Source: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley
Kunal Nayyar, who plays astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali on The Big Bang Theory, tells of growing up in India and his admiration for his father’s principles and attitude to life. Nayyar’s father encouraged and respected diversity in opinions, and taught his children how to treat people well. After years of being the local badminton champion and fumbling around to get girls’ attention, Kunal moves to Portland for his university education. At first, he is unable to fit in and tries too hard. He sees a call for auditions for a play, and having never had any experience or prior interest in acting, but seeing it as an opportunity to meet pretty girls and finally be able to make friends, he attends. His first couple of attempts at acting are botched, and he receives scathing reviews. But those don’t deter him. He takes acting classes and continues at it.
Finally, one day, in the middle of a performance, he has an epiphany and realises that he wants to be an actor. With the support of his parents, he attends graduate school (an acting school), moves to Philadelphia, auditions in an apple store for a broadway play, waits tables, finally gets an agent and is picked to play Rajesh Koothrapali. He meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate, week-long event.
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. I did not know what to expect, but I enjoyed it. In a lot of ways, Kunal is similar to Raj. Or maybe Kunal is so good at being Raj that I can’t separate character from person.
The transition periods, especially the college parts, get confusing; one minute he’s talking about freshman year, the next he is talking about final year, and the next he is back to the middle year. That doesn’t take anything away from the story; it’s funny, honest, and teaches you little lessons about life without shoving them in your face. You see and appreciate
the importance of family, traditions, and honoring where you are. Living in the moment, appreciating every rejection and not discounting every ‘understudy’ moment.
His writing shows the benefits of introspection and being truthful with yourself. He talks about accepting mistakes, realising that you’re not always perfect, that you won’t always get picked, and the rejection will always sting, especially if you’ve worked hard. You may not always have the right attitude about it either. But more importantly, you need to move on from the bitterness of it and work hard to be where you want to be.