I can now boast of finishing a novel in one sitting. Coupled with a day off from work and the comfort of being inside a quilt in the
This is a typical Chetan Bhagat novel- a mixture of many things of varying relevance/acquaintance for today’s Indian youth. This novel speaks to the reader through the characters that resemble middle class Indians wading past life in
. There is a bit of us, me and you, in his characters which keep us glued to his narration. This novel is no different from his earlier ones as this too deals with key issues of our country, such as corruption and parental/peer pressure in the society. It involves a phase of life that majority of current Indian youth pass through. Although I passed that phase a good 7 years ago, I relived my time through the life of Raghav and Gopal, the key protagonists of the story. India
This story is fraught with a variety of emotions ranging from impoverished blabber, ambition, friendship, love, lust, jealousy, betrayal, hope and reform. The relationship between the key protagonists, Gopal and Aarti, is what will sell as a Bollywood story for it has all the ingredients of an original love story, a little like “When Harry met Sally” or our very own “Band Baaja Bharaat”. The way Aarti keeps Gopal guessing about what is one her mind and simultaneous vulnerability of Gopal's about Aarti is well written and worth a special mention. I have a strong belief that such emotions run strong in the Indian semi-urban and urban cultural context and may not be understood by people from other cultures, say the American or elsewhere.
The male lead of the story is Gopal, although he plays the role of a traditional villain. He is constantly trying to snatch a girl away and has dealings with scrupulous elements in the society. He is a teenager who hails from a lower middle class family and has a ailing father, limited monetary comforts but loads of expectation to deal with in the academic front. He is willing to work hard to make a future for himself however Aarti remains a constant distraction in the key years of his life.
Raghav is the guy who is straight forward, hard working and focused on his goal which is to reform the society and bring about a reform before 2020. Raghav has the smarts and charms to achieve his goal and manages to get his life going as a student of the elite IT-BHU.
There is a stiff competition between the two men and the balance tilts both sides as the years pass by. Aarti is the common link between the two male characters who waivers in her loyalty to both the men with time and fortune. How they all fare with time is the storyline.
More stress could have been laid on the characterisation of Raghav and Shukhlajee (a MLA who helps Gopal with a life line) as there appeared some prominent chinks for the questioning reader.
The story runs in the background of a slew of events which throw light on the way education has been commercialised in our country. It explains the way in which little concern is on real development of Indian youth in terms of science and technology or any other subject and monetary ambitions rule the roost among the people who run the system.
I was surprised to check out some of the critical reviews of this novel. Most critics have their spades out for Chetan’s style of writing and his language. Chetan Bhagat is an astute strategist who has identified his consumers and his own capabilities very clearly.
He is no Charles Dickens or Jane Austen in his command over the Queen’s language but he sure has in his weaponry what it takes to communicate to his customers, language and matter, and that makes all the difference.
As a numbers guy (an investement banker), Chetan has got his numbers right in the largest book market of the world which is probably hard to digest for many in the literary circles and hence the acerbic banter.
Overall a good read , a typical Chetan Bhagat book.You will not be disappointed