Does the title (23:59:59) sound strange? May be, well the book is neither a science fiction nor a fantasy novel. For your senses, it is a ‘B-school’ fiction. For many, the title may suggest that there is someone’s fight to race against the time? Well, this proposition fits quite well if you get inside one of the best Indian B-schools in India. There you will find everyone running pell-mell, as almost all students wish to race ahead than their time and caliber so that they can have dazzling career. But the question is, how would you come up with a dazzling career from the best B-school, it looks easy, is it so?
In India, MBA is conjectured as a money-minting degree. Hence, students from across the nation strive for this degree that too from a reputed college? The new-age novel 23:59:59 by Sadashiv Pradhan possesses the same question. Well, if you think you know the answer, excuse us, you need to think again. Coming to the story of 23:59:59, we see it is about some students’ survival story in a renowned Indian B-school. Hold on, getting through the top B-school is not the end of destitution and misery. Will it be a sane place when state or national-level winners with brilliant academic history get rolled into one college? Little did they know that inside a B-school the story is different? How will they cope up when it gets revealed to them gradually that there survival takes precedence over winning?
As you read further, you get introduced to four main characters: Jay, Abhimanyu, Ishaan, and Shalini. Though there are some more characters with auxiliary powers, however these four ravishingly drive the plot. They all have made to the best B-school in India, it means they are brilliant, and good at studies, but that’s not enough. How did they land there…each one has a different story to tell?
Since the book focuses mainly on the characterization of Jay as compared to others, we see that Jay is a terrific blogger. He’s profound knowledge about football but little did he realize that that is his passion. But still he goes for an MBA. Why? Along with him, we all need to find out?
All four characters feel that they are in for an intense rat race competition. They are in the same group for competitions and assignments. They form a team called as 23:59:59. But why this name? Because in their B-school everything ends at x:59:59 AM/PM. They win several awards and accolades but still they aren’t on the same frequency. The most ambitious guy is Abhimanyu; he is way cooler and smarter than others. In the first year, he becomes a member of Placecommer and head in the second year. He can do anything, even maneuver all rules to see his name in glorious words. He is after money. He is caught in the web of money.
Next is Jay, the ethical guy, he is often caught between the web of right and wrong, little to discuss his football enthusiasm. Well, Ishaan is a terrific dream chaser he puts everything on stake for his dream advancement. His main concern is learning so that he can utilize that knowledge towards his dream project. Not to forget, he is rude and arrogant in his own ways. Does the concept of learning works in a B-school or anywhere else where rat race is prominent?
Shalini seems caught in the flow. In comparison to these guys, the mettle of her character seems mediocre. But still you cannot ignore her.
Through the eyes of these characters we see that life inside a B-school is anything but common. The lust for money, pursuit of passion, the urge to win every time, and to remain superior all time are some of the basic human traits that have been captured beautifully in the novel. They look like inevitable.
Contrary to normal colleges, life inside an MBA college is much hectic and there is a nerve-wrecking pressure to make a perfect CV since the very first day. The feel of cut-throat competition is evident by seeing how students jostle for placement committee selection, desperate class participation, placement for internship, grades, sports, election and so on. The author has put in special focus on the term ‘placement’, it is something that keeps them on tenterhooks; it literally haunts them. Students can go to any extent, backstab their close friends, resist heartbreaks, won’t hesitate to stoop too low or manipulate and exploit anybody. Probably they are driven by money factor. It is has become their tenacity to have access to the highest paying jobs if they had have made to the best B-school. Not getting placed means a straight failure…it is dramatic to see when students fail to get shortlists for summer internship or final placement, the amount of pressure on them is immense…probably they rate themselves based on the parameters of self-expectations and ego and peer pressure.
It is a well-written, well-edited and well-thought out book; seems as the story has spiraled out of Sadashiv’s first-hand experience of B-school survival. MBA is a lucrative word for aspiring students, this book will take you on a tour, so relatable and so real that you will better prepare yourself before plunging into the ocean of Red Sea.
Amazing read, terrific plot, and the greatest aspect of the book is the irony of characters’ choices with respect to their career and passion. Probably, after highest achievement comes an eerie sense of emptiness but how to landfill it.