Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of either Raj Koothrappali or Kunal Nayyar, the actor who plays the role. Raj maybe the face of ‘selective mutism’ on TV (but hey, not anymore!) but I think his character is otherwise very flat and boring. And Kunal’s acting serves little to elevate whatever little shred of empathy Raj accumulates from time to time. He tries too hard to be funny, the writers let him mouth some pretty self-deprecating lines, because he’s Indian himself so think they can get away with it. But seriously, how many jokes on poverty and overpopulation can you withstand before it starts to become irritating? I’m all in for self-deprecating humor but the jokes on this show are just lazy.
With this in mind then, when I picked up his memoir (He doesn’t call it a memoir, but c’mon!), I was looking for any sort of redemption or an interesting layer to his life that we would be surprised about. Unfortunately what it ends up being, initially, a naïve teenager rant of all his girl and guy crushes and how he lost his virginity, and then, progresses to being a depressing and sometimes smug recounting of his life as a theater artist, right up until he landed the role on The Big Bang Theory.
But who would really want to read this? People who just cannot get their Raj fix, and have a couple of hours to kill? I dunno. Is it inspiring? Well, not to me at least. He tries to sell the “rags to riches” and “don’t stop believing in yourself” motifs a bit too hard and maybe somebody would find it really intriguing, but I didn’t.
Also, this book was never written with an Indian reader in mind, which I guess I can understand. He has more American fans than Indian ones. But after a while, it gets a tad boring to read about the stuff you already know. The sad part is, he doesn’t even acknowledge his Indian fan base even once. And then we spend so much time in his teenager-hood that he never really gives us any meat on the show The Big Bang Theory. And his camaraderie with his fellow actors on the show. We only get a passing shout-out in the Acknowledgements!!
The only silver-lining moments are those when he lets himself be vulnerable and talks about his feelings. But these are very few and far between.
So do I appreciate Kunal Nayyar?
For what he’s achieved – heck, yea!
For his acting skills – Nope, at least not yet.
For his writing skills – He’s okay!
Book Cover: From official Goodreads page.