The novel, Offside is all about football, friendship, love and life in that order.
It begins with protagonist, Gaurav Kale, returning to his hometown Vadodara and reminiscing the past. His college days, his love for football, his love for the girl and his departure from the town.
The novel is clichéd, with Gaurav joining a football club that isn’t doing well for itself, tough practise matches, drills and exercises and the typical ways, the players choose, to avoid them. Finally, they participate in a tournament and lose their first match humiliatingly. But, the ‘underdogs’ bounce back surprisingly and how! If you’re a movie buff you’d know that they successfully reach the finals and…….well, they lose. (Which doesn’t happen in movies, though)
Gaurav makes friends for life, Golu and John, from the club. Gaurav, the introvert and under-confident, Golu, always looking to fill his bulging belly with something and John the witty and wackiest of them all, all hell breaks loose when these 3 are together. They hang out, play pool and chess, consume loads of food and drinks and they are always roaring with loads of laughter whenever they are together.
Of course, there is a love angle in the novel too. Shreya is the sweet and beautiful girl that Gaurav has hots for. But, low on confidence and experience, he happens to goof up over a prank on him made by his friends and gets beaten up by her boy-friend. She apologises to him over a coffee and bingo, they instantly become good friends! The apology soon converts to late night texts and clandestine meetings and a bet, winning which becomes important to Gaurav. She is hurt when she learns of his attraction towards her and asks him not to talk to her again.
The best part of the novel is the various matches the club plays and the way they have been described. A hardcore football fan will surely enjoy it. Though there is a bit of football jargon, it isn’t that difficult to grasp it. It made me want to go out and start playing football, yeah never played the game.
What happens after he leaves Vadodara, what happens of Shreya and her boy-friend, what happens of Shreya and Gaurav, does she forgive him and becomes friends again, what was the bet and does he win the bet, what happens to club post the tournament, why did he return to Vadodara, to find the answers to these questions, you’ll have to read the book.
Categorising this book would be difficult. It is a bit of football, a bit of male bonding and a bit of romance. ‘Male bonding’ is more stressed than ‘Romance’ though with ‘Football’ being the main theme.
Though clichéd, it’s a simple and sweet tale of football, friendship and one-sided attraction.
Recommended for a light and hearty read. Highly recommended for all football fans.
Connect with the author here – Kiran Vijayan