Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

I’ve always wanted to review books and movies. And finally I sit down to do it and I’m a bit sad that my 1st book review is a Chetan Bhagat book. Well, its a start…

I really like his 1st book – Five Point Someone, possibly because it was very different from the books I had been reading at that time, but mainly because it was the 1st book (that I’ve read) on college life in India. It was a real good read and contrary to popular view, it did not center on the IIT. The episodes it recounted could easily be applied to any college in India.

I thought I liked One night at the call center, but I cannot remember anything about the story, except that the narrator works in a call center and that he gets a call from God. Now, that is not a mark of a good story, is it? Surely I should remember more. I’ll give Chetan the benefit and blame my abysmal memory.

Unfortunately, I remember a lot more of The 3 mistakes of my life than I wish to. I bought (yes, bought) the book and was really eager to read it. I finished reading it because I had paid for it.

I downloaded his latest book, 2 states: The story of my marriage because I did not want to risk another mistake. (Yeah, bad one). But I surprised myself by not only reading from the computer (I don’t like e-books), but actually enjoying the book.

The story is about a Punjabi guy (Krish) and his Tamil girlfriend (Ananya), how they fall in love and battle their conservative parents for marriage. Its a fair take on communal, regional, linguistic (racial and financial and so on) differences that make love marriage nearly impossible in India. Its a current generation love story that is uncomfortably honest at some places and comfortably dishonest at others.

Krish and Ananya are the middle class fantasies – They are at IIM (A!). She is pretty. He is her boyfriend (so it doesn’t matter how he looks). They get jobs that pay well. Just when they think they’ll have a smooth transition into marriage, they realize that their cultural differences will prove impossible to transcend, not for them, but for their families. So, technically there begins 2 states and goes onto show, in its limited capacity, how the older generation is still averse to cross cultural relationships.

The 1st person narration adds a very nice perspective and a modern day sense of humor, but also frequently distracts you. 1st person, in my opinion, is the best form of narration and also the riskiest. Its wonderful because you get to live the role. Even if you are not Punjabi, you force yourself to see the world through the narrator’s eyes and things don’t seem so awkward. And this is very important in this book because it highlights cultural prejudices. For instance, when Krish talks about how rude Tamilians appear (Ananya’s parents), or how irrationally conservative even corporates are (his roommates), you feel annoyed that the narrator generalizes. You feel (if you have lived and loved Chennai as I have) wildly outraged when the narrator finds Chennai boring and dull. But, that’s the view of the narrator and seeing it through his eyes, you see the point sometimes.

The characters are cliched and so they stay in your mind as cliches would. It would have been much better for the story (and the readers) if the characters weren’t stereotyped. In fact, it would have made a lot of difference since there weren’t a lot of  major characters. Like in the other books, the narrator (main character) is poorly characterized. I like characters more than stories and Bhagat’s main characters have always been a let down (Not that the stories are great).

I could go on about what the book is not and how much more the story-listener in me asks for, but I guess it would be pointless. Chetan Bhagat is a writer for the masses and he delivers what he wants to. If nothing else, he has made a  market for him in India (which means a lot of ’em are taking up reading and that’s good). Now, I just hope he picks up his stories and make that market healthy.

Overall, its a good read and best read without a critical eye. Funny at places, predictable at some and above all, a good job trying to address an issue that strikes a chord with the masses.

Happy reading folks!


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