Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#BookReview: Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven't Told You by Kunal Nayyar

On the jacket:

Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.  
Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)  Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.


Let there be no confusions. I watch TBBT for Penny and Raj. I don't think Sheldon is cute or anything, I think he needs medical assistance and that Raj deserves more screen space where he does a lot of talking (with girls). Well, that's what I want but that ain't happening. Nevertheless, with TBBT and Nayyar's recent marriage with Neha Kapur, this book came when my curiosity about him was at its peak. 
I have as much liking to people who have settled abroad and not let go of their Indian accents as I am averse to Indians who start rolling there Rs the moment the land on American soil. So the title of the book got full marks from me. Moving on the the content of the book, let me tell you there is nothing spectacular inside. But what I did find is, a book I could relate to in every page. Nayyar was born  in the early 80s and grew up in Delhi. There. There's nostalgia for all of us 80's kids, presented in a platter. 
I like how he says, "This is not a memoir. I’m not a president, or an astronaut, or a Kardashian. This is a collection of stories from my life." and that is what the books is. From his love for Winnie Cooper to actually getting to work (and kiss) with Danica McKellar to being the average middle class Delhi boy struggling with adolescence, to moving to the states and adapting to the mixed culture there, to meeting his wife and marrying her - Nayyar has taken pages off from his life and put them together for us to read and smile, remembering similar situations from our own lives and reminiscing about the past. 
If you are looking at reading about how people from other countries have made it in showbiz, you'll like this book too. From being a badminton champion to acting in one of television's most viewed series, the transition had been gradual and not exactly planned. But like with a lot of people, university happened in Kunal's life and unlike in India, here he could try his hands at other things apart from academics too. The collection is pretty eclectic, but it is witty without trying to hard to be funny all the time. All in all, a good read but don't pick it up if you want insider news on TBBT 'coz this is about Kunal, not Raj.

I wonder if Ishani has read this book ;)

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Simon & Schuster. However, views expressed are my own and unbiased.]


  1. Hey Samarpita. Nicely done review. I enjoyed this book too though I'm not much of a fan of either TBBT or Raj.

  2. I am currently reading a copy I bought from the airport , a few weeks back. His accounts are honest and fun to read. Enjoying it as a reader. :)


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