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Chetan Bhagat

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1 Chetan Bhagat on Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:52 pm

Omkar

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Some call it pulp fiction. Some call him youth writer. Some criticize his limited vocab and others love him as he relates to the masses. In a cliched way, he is what is synonymous with 'Love me, hate me, you can't ignore me' mainly coz New York Times has established him as the bestselling English novelist in India. An IIT graduate and a degree at IIM later, he briefly worked at a bank in Hong Kong when he wrote his first novel which went on to become an unprecedented hit. 2nd and 3rd novel only increased his number of copies sold.

Five Point Someone-What not to do in IIT: Debut novel. It was about 3 IITians journey through college, their academic frustration, love and family life. I loved it and still do. Its the only novel I have read more than 12 times!

One Night @ Call Centre: Talks about 6 call centre employees and their experience of one night when God called. Pretty decent. The synopsis calls it dark and witty. I feel its a pretty light and fun-at-times book.

Three Mistakes of My Life: 3 friends living in Gujarat and their ambition of becoming successful businessmen against the backdrop of earthquake and Gujarat riots. The biggest disappointment, I feel. Boring at times, it seems stretched and deliberate attempt at mass appeal.

And now,
Two States- A Journey of my Marriage: His latest, releasing this Diwali. A partly autobiographical novel, it talks about two people- a guy from north India and a girl from south India falling in love, deciding to get married when they've to seek the parental approval. Now that Chetan has become such a phenomenon, he has left his job and become a full time writer and has done quite some marketing on his book like writing (mediocre) articles for newspapers, giving interviews, tweeting etc. This one promises a back to FPS style narrative i.e. humorous, witty and touching at times. Check out the teaser

http://www.chetanbhagat.com/books/2_states/teaser.php

The excerpt posted on his website is decent too, nothing outstanding though. But in spite of being disappointed after reading his articles and 3rd book, I am looking forward to this one. Why? Firstly coz he's an IITian, something I could never be, so I respect him for that. Secondly, I still have hopes because he wrote FPS, something I know I can never write. And thirdly, coz his books come cheap, just about 100 bucks. So I don't have to starve myself to gather enough money. Just a few "Please mom"'s will do Very Happy

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2 Re: Chetan Bhagat on Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:48 pm

Omkar

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THE BOOK IS RELEASED! GETTING IT IN AN HOUR! WOOOHOOO! Very Happy Very Happy

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3 2 States- book review on Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:34 am

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Before I get into the critical intricacies, I want to share a perspective. Chetan Bhagat is either an astute businessmen-minded author who is a genius with masses or he's plainly creatively impotent. Either way, it works for him. Now why I say this? Read on-

The book, as I have already mentioned, is a largely autobiographical book involving, as Bhagat says, real life people and experiences. The plot- 1st year at IIM. Krish and Ananya, the campus hottie, meet and befriend each other. Krish tries to be just friends with her but harmones take over and bang, he's in luhv. He confesses, she accepts, they move in together. Now, I might not know the IIM hostel life n guidelines but I can be pretty sure when I say that there is someone called as warden who keeps people in check(in other words, make life even lifeless from the already geeky near corpse-like existence of the students). But all that takes place conveniently and our couple decide to get married. But there lies the catch- the girl being south Indian and the guy a Punjabi, sparks fly when their parents meet for the first time. Thus begins the mission of patao-ing each other's parents and as the book says- 'Story of my marriage'. Even though the story begins on a flashback after the break up, you know the ending is gonna be happy.

I read it and as last time, gulped it in a 6 hours straight read. Thankfully, Bhagat has improved from the last book though is nowhere near his debut. Now don't begin this no comparing, each book should be judged for its own merit, yada yada. I will compare. You know why, coz that makes me think- was his debut really his own? I mean, he's acknowledged like hundreds of people in the beginning of the first book and notable among them is Shinie Antony and she's an already established writer. So is it that she had a significant share on the delectable pie of FPS? I guess that's just my brain on its overdrive but interestingly, neither this book nor the previous acknowledged her and both of them sucked balls in front of his first two in which he confessed that it had valuable 'inputs' from Antony.

Anyway, coming back to the review- its a pretty nice story and Bhagat seems to have mostly done justice to it though he could have edited it much more, say 30 pages or so because it slacks a little in the middle before taking off in the near-climax part. Even the main marriage should've had lesser coverage. The starting reminds me of Erich Segal's Love Story. The writing style, though lustreless compared to Segal, is kinda similar- the haughty Krish with his effective and smart-at-times one liners, which work many-a-time unlike his last book, and some other similarities. But it all ends as the IIM ends and begins the drama CB style. You have typical South Indian n Punjabi mannerisms, the culture difference, the hero trying to woo his lady love's parents and vice versa, with all the father folding his hands to leave his daughter alone, the mother mocking her daughter in law with 'In our Punjab...' and the affecting starved protagonists scrambling for acceptance, all of them almost succeeding when a sudden miscommunication tears them apart. Break up pain, more drama, the wedding and happily live ever after shit.

What's best part about the story is Krish's father, an ex army officer whom Krish shares strained ties with. The story of their relationship cracking is the most powerful part although it just lasts for 2 pages. Along with that, he addresses a few issues like legitimite dowry(that's coming on Colosseum soon), amalgamation of cultures, pathetic knowledge about sex in India(discreet references) and physical harassment of women. The first and last topics had me boiling in anger. It's mostly because the strong resentment I have with these issues but he could put some oil in the fire and that's pretty much an achievement. There are a lot of references to Five Point Someone, it referred as the prequel to this book.

Now where does this book fall down? Firstly, a bland writing style. It might be one of the reasons why masses like it but save for his one liners, which tend to disappear in the middle part, there's not much that can make you cling on to the book. Then, this is a sad attempt at romance. This book lacks a soul. His observation and description of the two cultures is mostly the cliched and the pop perception, something which even I can write and I won't even have to experience much of the cultures, except for the weddings maybe. The typical Indian middle class flavor is endearing at times but its more because of the merit of the acts n not the writer's description.

There seem a few flaws too. Like the novel is based in late 90s, when the dot com bubble is bursting and net is frowned upon as overrated, when the mobile phones were a recent phenomenon and used to cost 20,000. At such times, Krish, a trainee, has his own laptop. How is it possible? With his salary, no chance. Did his company, Citibank, splurge so much in those days on even the trainees? Next, the girl's family, in spite of being middle class, have a microwave. In those days, I doubt if microwaves were available in India. Even if they were, I bet they were way out of budget for middle class. Hell, I purchased one just 3 years ago and I am from middle class. There's a dubious analogy too-
Krish: Don't mind my mom. She's all talk, but is good at heart.
Ananya: Even murderers are good at heart.

How does that make sense?

My recommendation: This book is a casual read ONLY if you got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE to do. You won't miss out anything. Read only if you get it from a library or your friend lends it to you. It can be a pretty nice time killer.

Now, back to my Bhagat the suave businessman theory. His books have an blatant mass appeal of late. Usually, they have a loser-boy, romance, sex scene, friendship, tragedy and a happy ending. And this is what every normal brain likes. This one has the popular Punjabi community and the much wider South Indian base. Bhagat has directly reached out to these 2 community specific audience. Next, this one is what can form a definite above average Bollywood grosser. And trust me, it WILL be adapted as a movie. Sooner or later. It also has a constant nationalism impregnated in it with its 'We are Indians first, Punjabis and Tamilians later' message you have to face at least 20-30 times. It also involves lot of family drama every Indian is a sucker for. He's taken a dig at the saas-bahu soap operas but I won't say he isn't inspired from them. Then, he's addressed the above-mentioned issues like dowry etc. which I bet will attract media to have Bhagat's quote on their future serious news articles. Look out for more of his quotes primarily in Times Life. And then, the usual fare i.e. reasonably priced books- for 95 bucks only, you get a dash of sugar, spice, and everything nice in the end. (Of course, you don't have chemical X Razz) And then the most innovative of all- Now that he's so popular much liked, people obviously are curious of his personal life. And he gives it to them in the form of his next book. You get to know a celeb's cute love story in less than a hundred rupees. Why won't people buy it?

Shrewd guy. This one is on its way to become his next blockbuster. I bet Bhagat is laughing his way to bank Twisted Evil

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4 Re: Chetan Bhagat on Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:05 am

kyo

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Dunno.... I just thought the guy was overrated to begin with... FPS was not bad... but somehow... From the writing... I just felt that the guy himself was a little bit... off...


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5 Re: Chetan Bhagat on Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:42 pm

Ankita


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I loved FPS... And I thought 2 states was pretty decent as well. Though I do admit One night @ the call centre was very very average and 3 mistakes... don't ask! Reading that one was one of the major mistakes of my life. But Bhagat is a decent writer. Fine he is a little overrated. But he makes the video games and chat-room crazy population of Indian kids leaf through books. Cheers to that!!

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6 Re: Chetan Bhagat on Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:18 pm

MayFlower

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Ankita wrote: 3 mistakes... don't ask! Reading that one was one of the major mistakes of my life.
Mine too.

To be truthful even Five Point Someone was average.
Haven't read Two States though..don't think I will either.

Geeky/loserly protagonist whose life is nothing short of a mess+young attractive female whom he believes he doesn't deserve+several hurdles in the path of success which he overcomes in typical Hindi movie ishtyle+atleast one sex scene+happy ending=TADA you get a Chetan Bhagat novel.

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7 Re: Chetan Bhagat on Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:21 pm

Kazuki

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Chetan bhagat is overrated... =/
He's just got the I'm-in-the-flight/train-and-i'm-bored kind of books . You find his books at every other tiny book shop at the station and that's probably where half his books are bought. He's also become the kind of writer who's work people just think is cool, nobody actually looks at the real story, which is predictable, drab at times, and so very bollywood bad.

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