Thursday 11 February 2021

Book Review of 'If God Was a Banker' by Ravi Subramanian.

This is my fifteenth read of 2021 and my first of this author. I didn’t know what to expect, but the blurb was promising.


The unlikely friendship between Sundeep (yes, seems like a numerology-compliant choice) and Swami, that progressively blows up into professional conflict, peppered with jealousy is realistic to some extent. Natasha and Kalpana, the respective wives, offer a realistic feel to the personal lives of the two protagonists.

The sleazy underbelly of couch politics that plays out in some corporate setups is showcased in detail through Naresh and some minor but crucial women characters along the story. Aditya as the mentor is almost too good to be true, especially at the end.

There are also a large number of characters, some of them included along the way, which might confuse readers who return after a break in reading the book halfway. I would recommend readers to finish the book in as few sittings as possible to avoid this possible lapse in memory.


Having read that the author is an alumina of IIM-B, I expected the setting to capture a little more of Bangalore within the pages, but the focus of the action is mostly Mumbai. What I found interesting and intriguing were the inner workings of the cutthroat banking industry.

What I really enjoyed reading was how the multiple nuances of corporate politics have been captured within the story. More importantly, I appreciate the brilliant ways that depict sexual harassment at workplace, a common reality that most organisations in India still choose to turn a blind eye to. Also, the realities of the North-South divides within corporate workspaces that lurk just beneath the surface are brought out through the dialogues (Madrasi, etc.) and the thoughts.

I especially liked the moral innuendoes that the story puts forth without being preachy or moralistic. Money, fame and power may be obtained without being unscrupulous or ‘morally flexible’. The triumph of a solid CHILD – Commitment, Honesty, Integrity, Leadership and Dedication is the best takeaway of the book, although many may argue that the real world allows little opportunity or growth for such sticklers of ‘Gandhism’. The way the novel ends somewhat justifies this theory, because one wonders if justice has really been served to the key culprit in the story.

Another important lesson to be gleaned is how effective leadership rests on a foundation of integrity sans pressure fueled by greed for fame and fortune. The book showcases that humane approaches to team management ensure better performance and enriching working conditions. Deceptive appearances juxtaposed with frill-free value systems display the disparity between individuals pitched together in a typical corporate set-up.

The fag end of the novel made me wonder why only India is shown to have the issue of gender inequality, corruption and couch politics in the corporate sector. We are well aware of these foibles being present in American companies as well, not to mention the rampant racism that lingers just below the surface. It would have only been fair, if this aspect would have been acknowledged somewhere in the novel.


The narrative is smooth, easy-going and has a good flow. Dialogues are peppered with some minimal Hindi, which is not a problem because translations are provided as part of the narrative itself.

Also, some portions of the detailing of long banking processes /methodologies and some jargons could have been reduced along the way.


I rate the novel 4.3 out of 5. Extra points for pointing out the importance of having a system that offers safe working spaces for women, free from sexual favours and harassment undertones. Also, for showcasing that ultimately, good always triumphs over bad, in the classic old-fashioned way – through modern storytelling.

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Happy reading, readers!


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