Chetan Bhagat is truly the most loved or, the most hated author in the country. Surely, on one side we have a large percentage of readers who simply cannot stop adoring his books, and on the other side there is a larger number who simply dislike his books. Despite all the brickbats he receives for his featured columns in major dailies, or for his stint as a judge on a reality show, Chetan Bhagat’s books do sell and they rake in the moolahs!!
To me he is neither good nor a bad writer. He is average and yes, definitely over-rated. Reading a Chetan Bhagat is akin to watching a Karan Johar or maybe a Salman Khan movie. Loaded with emotions and relationship tangles, the plot may lack depth, with seldom any logic. Yet we all watch them once in a way. Chetan Bhagat books are no great pieces of literature, yet they appeal to the masses, and that’s why his books are ranked as a best seller and I do enjoy reading them once in a way.
Getting to his latest book- One Indian Girl…
Radhika Mehta is educated, intelligent and ambitious. She is a topper of sorts and after her MBA degree from IIM; she lands herself a job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. She heads to New York, to start her professional life, much to her parents’ dislike, who are more than keen to see her married at 21. New York is an all new world for Radhika. She lives her life and accomplishes on the professional front, earning a bonus her father seldom saw in his entire banking career. Her mother though doesn’t appreciate it and the pressure to “settle” down into matrimony is mounted upon her. Fighting away the stereotypes, Radhika, does well professionally, has a string of relationships that makes her move base, from New York, to Hong Kong and then to London. It teaches her life’s important lessons and gives her an insight into what she wants and who she exactly is.
She eventually decides to settle down into an arranged marriage, when the unforeseen happens. Her ex-es land up at her marriage venue. Radhika’s mind is in the biggest of turmoil’s. With her wedding just 24 hours away, she has her present and past all in one place. Who would she choose and why? What exactly is in the mind of this one Indian girl? Read the book to understand this as Chetan touches that one raw nerve- feminism.
The books delves into the deep lying patriarchy in Indian society. The restrictions that are not spoken about yet exist all around us. Radhika deals with an insecure boyfriend who cannot handle her earning more than him and later a married boss who becomes her lover, but seldom acknowledges that she could want to start a family too. Neither of the men she encounters understand that she could want to have both worlds- a home as well as a career.
The narration and content is candid and simple, filled with relatable incidents and connections. Chetan brings in the entertainment element with the dramatic Punjabi family, loaded with aunts and cousins galore, plus a wedding scene to top up the drama factor. I loved Radhika’s characterization, and her evolving from a simple West Delhi girl to a chick smart corporate woman. The narration in female first person is impressive, with the entire story conveyed as Radhika’s thoughts and views.
I liked Chetan’s view and stand on feminism. In a world where everything is almost a hype, and the true meaning of feminism lost somewhere, he brings out the choices that women are forced to make.
Yet, the book fails on many fronts. Highly predictable, it isn’t very different from his earlier ones. There is a degree of monotony in the tone and yes, you could comfortably skip a couple of pages. It also lacked that “spark” and humor that would have made the book otherwise a better read.
Surely Chetan Bhagat may be no great writer, but his Bollywood inspired writing does make him a fairly decent story teller. Worth a one-time relaxed read ‘cause when you do finish that last page and close the book, you are left behind with a smile — and thinking.
Would it be a future Bollywood block buster? Well only time can tell that!