Book Review - Yes, My Accent Is Real by Kunal Nayyar

‘Yes, My Accent Is Real’, says Kunal Nayyar. If you were a fan of The Big Bang Theory, the famous American TV show, you would know Rajesh Koothrappali or Raj. (Fun fact: Raj was originally named David Koothrappali; as it wasn’t written specifically for an Indian, even though Koothrappali sounds nothing but Indian). I went on a quest to know more about Kunal Nayyar, the actor who plays the astounding and hysterical character of Raj. Kunal is a 34-year-old British Indian actor and writer; he was born in London, England, grew up in New Delhi, India, went to Portland, USA to pursue higher studies in Finance, and now resides in Los Angeles, USA with his wife. Even though he chose to study finance, acting was his calling; and as soon as he realized that he worked hard on building it professionally, and eventually served it well.

Yes, My Accent Is Real, by Kunal Nayyar

Author Kunal Nayyar
Genre Non Fiction/ Autobiography
Price Rs. 375 (Purchased for Rs. 208 on
Pages 272
Format Paperback
Availability Worldwide on Amazon
Rating (5 Stars) 

Book Review
**Spoiler Alert!**

Why Should You Read This Book

If you are looking for a sincere and diligent story of an actor; how someone went from cleaning toilets and collecting garbage to playing a funny character on a leading TV show; how a young guy travelled miles away from his family, to a culturally unfamiliar environment and struggled to fit in; seeking dating advice; looking for moral advice passed on from the previous generations; looking for amusingly painful love interests to finally finding that one who compliments you the best; looking to enjoy an extravagant Indian wedding; and lastly but definitely not the least – looking for a smart and humorous story of Kunal Nayyar aka Raj from The Big Bang Theory, this book is unquestionably for you to read and enjoy.

In my opinion, it takes courage to expose to the world all the weaknesses and humiliations one goes through, irrespective of how famous and successful they have become. We are all human beings, but this ingenuousness is what creates the character and brings out the eccentricity in the book.

Teenage Years

At the very beginning of the book, you see a few similarities between Kunal and Raj; yet as expected he has a very distinctive personality in real life. The book begins with his early days as a young teenager in Delhi, who was brought up in an Indian Punjabi family. He loved playing badminton (which he claims, was the closest thing to sports he ever got); he grew up close to his family, went to an all boys’ high school and had his share of healthy selective mutism (which later helped him understand Raj’s fear and mutism around women).  For most readers, mentioning ones childhood might seem irrelevant; but every story begins the day you were born. So it’s equally important to talk about one’s mischiefs and memories from the early days. It helps in understanding the journey of the author.

Eureka Moment

He left India at the age of only 18 years old to USA to pursue Bachelors in Finance. Along this journey, in order to fit in with the rest of the young kids, he decides to try his luck in acting. He participates in college dramas and musicals to expand his circle of friends, unaware of the art of acting at the time. During this time he faces innumerable humiliating moments, of which he speaks at length in the book. But he never gives up; in fact he becomes more competitive and challenges himself. He would work hard and focus only on the lead roles, yet settled with whatever came his way.

Finally once during a play in college, he has his eureka moment. This is the moment that changes everything for him; this moment is when he decides he wants to be an actor. Sometimes all you need is one moment to transform the way you see yourself and your life. It could be a moment, an incident, a conversation, or even a person that can change you forever. There is no going back from there. It happens to you at the right place, at the right time. The moment is so well defined, that you feel elated for some reason, even though it happened to him and happened years ago. You get transported to the moment that changed his life. Nothing could have deterred him from pursuing his passion; yet he seeks the approval of his family. (In every Indian family, children seek the opinions and approval of their parents as a reassurance). His parents had the most incredible response; all they said to him on the phone was, “We are very proud of you!” They reinforced in him the confidence he needed to believe in his dreams, and it just overwhelms you with emotions. They could have easily instilled a doubt in him about an unstable creative career, but they chose to encourage him. It's very easy to demotivate someone by comparing them with their peers, but it's important to know that every person has his own story to write and life to live (They either just wanted to support their child in whatever he wanted to do, or perhaps they could see through his talent; either ways the support they offered helped him find an incredible actor in himself). It is said, that you are never alone if you have a family to fall back to.

Moral Lessons

Kunal is down to earth, a homebody, and your average Indian (American Indian) guy - with a passion for acting and gifted comedy timing. He has very subtle messages attached to every incident in his life, which is very wise of him because it gives everyday stories a profound meaning. Valuing and accepting who we are and where we come from, plays a very important role in our lives in shaping who we become in the future. As is evident from the book he is awfully attached to his family and culture. Throughout the book he quotes his father, lessons he learnt in every situation and has the most idealist notes on cocktail tissues that he saved through the years. Some of those lessons are briefly mentioned here.

  • It’s not over until it’s really over. If you really want it seriously, try one more time before you give up.
  • If it happens, well. If it doesn’t, very good! (We always kick and whine, but eventually realize, months or even years later, how it was the best thing to happen to us.)
  • We muddle the process of decision-making; which in fact is as simple as – Pick up all the pieces available and work with them.
  • While interviewing for a job, we are often nervous and worried about being judged by a team of people, who would highlight and focus on our weaknesses. The truth is – They are already on our sides, they want to fill the vacant position and be done with it. This thought gives you one less thing to worry about and lets you focus on the technical part and decide if this is what you want.

Kunal's Dating Guide

If you are a guy looking for dating advice, you could turn to Kunal for that. He has a chapter dedicated to his quick quirky thoughts on dating. They are hilarious, and I agree with some of them. Yes, us women really like it when a man uses the word adorable, sticks to honesty, keeps it simple, is never late for the date, and never ever calls you a dude. (His advice on who pays the bill is kind of an underwritten law; and is a sign of stability and commitment, which we all like. But it personally makes me very uncomfortable; what is wrong with paying your own share or splitting the bill, I would never understand! And if you are thinking of a long-term relationship, it really doesn't matter who pays.) He insists you see kindness and not humor when pursuing a relationship – notice their interaction with a waiter, a beggar, a doorman, stranger or even a youngster! Because some of us easily chuckle on the silliest jokes, but what really matters is kindness and compassion. Humor may eventually perish, but generosity lives forever.

The Big Bang Experience

Post his degree in finance, he mastered in acting. His time in the USA was running out, he had few months left on his Student’s Visa to get something of value, that would buy him more time there. Working on stage shows and TV ads was not enough to keep him there, so he reaches out to an agent; who finds him an audition for a TV show. Unaware of whether it will ever materialize into something, Kunal went ahead and auditioned for the role. The interview was the easiest part; it was the waiting to hear back from the production that kept Kunal on the edge. It would be weeks before he would hear the casting for the show. He almost gave up, because another rejection was not something he wanted to experience. But his agent convinced him to give it one more week. Soon, he got the call he was waiting for. After many experiences and heartbreaks, he landed on what would be the best American Comedy TV show The Big Bang Theory. Some said he got lucky, but he simply happened to be at the right place at the right time with truckloads of talent.

Wedding Extravaganza

“But you can’t find love if you’re not willing to lose it. You can’t find happiness if you’re not willing to risk being sad. And you can’t find the love of your life without risking breaking your heart.” – Kunal Nayyar, Yes My Accent Is Real

Kunal married Neha Kapur (Former Miss India) in New Delhi in 2011 in a North Indian Punjabi style wedding. Which by the way is nothing but a big bang party – in Kunal’s case it was a 6-day long party with nearly a thousand’s guest list. To sum it up, it is like a crazy train that never stops and you feel jet lagged for days to come. He welcomes and presents to you a full account of all the celebrations that went into his wedding. But the highlight of it all was his love story with his wife, which is the sweetest. (It makes you believe in true love stories.) You go through a roller coaster of emotions as he narrates the whole wedding extravaganza. From their first date to their adorable courtship; from planning a wedding in India, in 6 months, from LA to dealing with his fiancĂ©-mother's chemistry; from his fear of horses to riding one for his grand wedding entry; from endless drinking and dancing to Kunal crying during the Bidaai (Bride's farewell). All of this creates a very happy vibe for the readers to enjoy. He leaves you in awe when he ends with – “And I drove home with my wife.”

Final Thoughts

I always say never judge a book by its cover, but always by their acknowledgments. This tip has never failed me, and I always know that it’s going to be a great book when the writer salutes those who helped him write the book. To conclude, I really enjoyed this book, it was complete in itself. Kunal is not only a talented actor, but also an absolutely charming human being. The book is written with love and humor, which makes it worth your reading time. As always let me know your thoughts on this book. I have more exciting reviews coming up this month.

Happy Reading!

Love & Peace


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