This review may contain spoilers i.e. if you consider Chetan Bhagat’s books to have gripping plots which can be spoiled by knowing about it!!
To CB fans: You are anyways going to love it like no other book ever written, so don’t bother with the review!! 😉
To CB haters: I know you’ve been waiting for this book more than the fans so that you can dish out your ‘critic’ review on goodreads and you might already be through with that! Maybe, you’d debate with me over mine, but I’m all game!
To indifferent folks: Here you go:
I have started writing this review several times in this week, then deleted it and yet, it kept nagging me to write!
What the book says about itself: Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a rich girl from Delhi called Riya. Madhav didnt speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn’t. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didn’t. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half-girlfriend.
Did I love reading the book?
I can read almost any book. Almost. And since CB’s books are comparatively thinner / smaller, it was not an issue completing it. Although, it was too dramatic and unrealistic for my taste. I felt like he was writing a perfect bollywood masala movie script, which infact, he was! That the script was selected by Ekta Kapoor proves that there is nothing extraordinary about the script!
Except that there might be some takeaways afterall:
#1 That it is based in Bihar, the state thought to be populated by the most English-averse people in this country.
#2 That the English is simple and probably, would enable the people in Bihar to connect to the Protagonist (Madhav) and again, probably they would try reading this book and yet again, probably inspire them to read simple English novels or join “high-class” english schools / colleges and probably help to create education awareness in Bihar. Too much left to probabilities, too much.
#3 That it touches upon a topic which is seldom discussed in India: Sexual Expoloitation by family members which makes the victims sexually averse, or socially awkward, or unable to build trusting relationships, or unable to talk about it due to fear of being hushed down / looked down upon, or all of these. He has not discussed at length upon this, but all the above is evident from the character (Riya) which faces social exploitation by her own father. The good thing is, it was mentioned. The bad thing is, that to be politically correct, or to avoid unnecessary attention on the sexual exploitation and hence, awakening the so-called “culture police” in our country, the effect it has on the character or the horror of it is hardly visible in the book. It is almost a layer beneath the words which describes the effects of such sexual exploitation.
The end of the book was probability defying. The protagonist managed to find his lady-love by going at / talking to every pub which offers music in Manhattan. hmm.. Realistically, he should have taken at least 5 years (60 months) before he found her (by the way, she had also changed her name!)!!! But as goes the Bollywood rule, there must be a happy ending! And hence, he managed it in 60 days!!
Edited to add: The lows:
CB couldn’t get lamer in describing places / emotions / people. The characters seemed distant people because he failed to describe Madhav’s / Riya’s personalities more convincingly, it was hard to connect to them.
Reading description of some places in books makes me want to visit them, like after reading The Da Vinci Code, I just wanted to start earning and save enough money to do a tour of all the places described in the book! At least he could have described the college, its general vibrance better! Just to make us feel connected to the plot. Sadly, that never happened.
He also completely failed at emotions. Neither did I feel sad when Riya denied to be his Girlfriend, nor when I read about her father sexually exploiting her. Nor did my blood rush on reading the sex-scene he describes at the end. It was very thanda.
Verdict: Not a must-read. But since I would want you to agree with my review: If you have 6 hours and 150 Rs. to spare, give it a shot!
If you have read other CB books, I rate it 3rd, after Two States and Five Point Someone. The rest two fictions are pretty shitty (it rhymes!) and complete waste of money and 6 hours each! (If you have absolutely detested the above two books, please don’t read it even if I were to send it to your address!)