Goodreads blurb: Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.
Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)
Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.
Even if you haven’t seen the TV show, The Big Bang Theory I am willing to bet that you have at least heard of the same, and if not, trust me this book is still worth a read even though it is written by one of the four leading actors of the show, Kunal Nayyar.
What I personally loved about the book was the fact that from the very beginning itself (the Quotes section on Page 2 by ‘famous people’) till the very end, the last page with the Acknowledgements, Kunal managed to keep me in splits with his unique brand of self deprecating humor without resorting to time tried clichés involving an Indian stuck in the US of A.
At best this book serves as a memoir of Kunal’s life so far in terms of a brief description of his immediately family, a few years before he goes to the US to study Business Management, his foray into theatre and later on into a course in acting, his initial struggles to get established as an actor, finding his way to the cast of what would prove to be his biggest break; the role of Raj Kootharapalli in The Big Bang Theory and his life subsequently.
While Kunal could have chosen the easy way out and pontificated about how his life as an actor was a huge struggle and how he had to start from scratch when it came to showbiz, the fact that he chooses to underplay the struggle bit while highlighting how each experience and each setback was used by him as lessons to become stronger, better and funnier goes on to highlight his extremely positive outlook to life. And further, the manner in which he self deprecatingly goes on to discuss his shortcomings threadbare while not getting into either a self-pity or a self-glorification trap goes on to show how well grounded and humble he is as a person (or at least as a writer of this book).
In a nutshell, this book is a genuinely funny and interesting account of Kunal Nayyar, the person, the son, the friend, the actor and lately the husband as well. Although he claims this is not a memoir of his, I would beg to disagree. While it might not be a memoir in the truest sense of the word, this book surely does give readers more than a fair idea of the person, his value systems, his life so far and his personality. And if that is not a memoir, what is?
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.