Friday 22 January 2021

Book Review of ‘Off The Pages’ by Indranil Mukherjee

My second read of 2021 is different from a lot of others in multiple aspects. For one, it is the first ever meta-fictional novel I’ve read. It is also the only novel that reads like the work of an English author. This is the best book amongst my Indian fiction reads since a long time.

Also, this is my second read of author Indranil Mukherjee, the first one being The Station Master, which was an excellent read. Off the Pages surprised me immensely because while it has the same high grade vocabulary, it is completely unidentical to The Station Master in many respects, especially the narrative style.


The characters are multilayered, literally. The protagonist is author Dev Narayan, whose charming personalities come to life, forgive the pun, on the pages. Tej is the almost complete James Bond, except that the suave charm that wins women with nonchalant ease is missing. Tej is the deliciously intriguing, hyper-amazing, surreal action hero, larger than life, but with his own set of foibles. Moozie is a complete charmer amongst the ladies and the other characters complement these main ones. Gomes, the villain is a fabulous spoof of the supposedly menacing antagonists, leaving us in splits at every other turn of the page.  

It takes time for us to get used to the idea of characters jumping off the book onto real life, but once we do, there is no looking back. Everything falls into place smoothly, and the way the characters explain away their very existence and situations in the book is convincing.

After all, what is fiction but an extension of real life?


The story is a compelling juxtaposition of action, humour and adventure, with ample doses suspense and thrill rolled into it: a complete all-rounder. Dev the author finds himself face-to- face with his key fictional character, one fine day. The additional thrill occurs when his literary genres mingle to cause a series of complications arising from his own storytelling prowess.  Thus, we find sub-plots within the main plots that add a new dimension to the storyline.


Alert readers will lose count of the number of guffaws that would escape them while turning the pages. There are umpteen subtle and not-so-subtle parodies of not just the characters but also the genres, predominantly the Mills and Boon type of romances that used to be the rage (and still continues to be so) amidst a section of readers. The fakeness/silliness of ‘perfect’ characters in countless love stories takes a gentle tap on the wrist throughout his unique style of narration. This is not limited to romances alone, but extends to the run-of-the-mill action dramas where the ominous villain is overly menacing.

Spoiler alert: The parts where Gomes tries to destroy his enemies is comical to the core, although the nature of his attack is extremely serious. Also, the sequences where Dev ‘overpowers’ Ranjan Rowdy despite no prowess or propensity towards violence, is hilarious. The parts where Dev narrates ‘poetry’ and some dialogues with Inspector 'Fataak' will tear readers apart with laughter.

However, the most noticeable aspect of the book is the style of narration. The flawless , top-notch vocabulary may easily be passed off as an Englishman’s work, merely if the Indian names and locales are replaced with those of England. It is rare to find work with zero grammatical errors or typos. The author has pulled off all these with finesse and verve.

The only nitpicking grouse that I can perhaps point out is that some readers looking for an extremely easy-going narrative, or those who are unaccustomed to reading English classics with high-end vocabulary, may find it a wee bit tedious to get through. For serious readers who love good work (especially those such as Wodehouse), this book is sure to be an absolute delight.

Conclusion and Rating

I rate the book a 4.7 out of 5. Plus points are for brilliant vocabulary and flawless editing.

Indranil Mukherjee is an underrated author. While we invariably come across a few errors, even in most top publishers' books (despite the efforts of editing teams), this novel is worth lauding for its rare flawlessly edited narrative. All regular readers know that novels by Indian authors with excellent vocabulary and zero errors are scarce. OTP is definitely a must-read, especially if you enjoy ‘Wodehousian’ genre of literature.

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Happy reading, readers!





  1. Thank you so much Chethana for such a detailed review that touches upon every important aspect of the story... :-) I trust this will reach many more readers!

    1. I'm sure it will, Indranil. It was an absolute pleasure to read and review this masterpiece.