My rating: 1 of 5 stars
So now that I have invested my cash in the book, I get to formally say bad things about it. This is a petty, petty review by a man who thinks India deserves better. I am going to begrudgingly concede to the author. He has mad marketing skills and yes, he made me buy and read his work. Now what? Yes, Mr. Bhagat you have outsmarted us. You screamed from the rooftops and you got heard. Now you are the voice of Indian youth. I take it. I take it that you are the most selling author and people read you. BUT!
But that makes it even more important for you to get it right. You have all the resources at your service. You can read feminist literature, acquaint yourself with the sociology of it and push India ahead by a decade. But, perhaps in your tiny money-minded brain, you reason to yourself that then no one will buy your book. You do not think your profession to be a noble one and it shows. It shows in the way you place brands in your book. So, being the corporate sellout that you are, you go ahead and serve what the masses want: a book which under the guise of feminism, serves two B-grade sex scenes, enforces the twisted mentality that infects Indian women AND ends like a shitty Bollywood movie with all the characters coming together and making zero sense.
You did add that bit about freedom and choice to make your message a bit more ‘holy’ but, I could still see through it. It still had faults and you perhaps do not have the brains to execute it any better than this. I know I am being mean but you have to take this because you made me buy this book by being the most well-marketed author of India. If you are going to be out there, making truckloads of money at the cost of young Indian minds, you do need to at least be ripped apart for it. It isn’t my hate but my frustration.
Let’s talk about the good parts of the book. First thing is that it reads like one giant text message. Zero additions to my vocabulary. Zero effort on the brain. Very linear. Could easily be made into a movie. It has trademark Chetan Bhagat style of writing. Everyone can read it. Good.
Second thing is- it succeeds in being a page-turner. The story itself is very racy right up to the ending. The climax is a huge slap in the face of all Indian men and women but that is another thing.
Now coming to the bad parts. Firstly, the book gets feminism wrong. The approach Mr. Bhagat employs is to first build up the myths (Good Indian women do not drink/ have sex/ have a career-minded approach) and then debunks them. So far so good. Then comes the twist- this women is a douche herself. She picks guys based on their salary because she thinks no man would be able to handle a woman who earns more than her. Bhagat runs with this theory and establishes it as a fact in the end. So, he is not rooting for equality, after all. His protagonist is a conformist. And we are okay with that if the ending makes sense, right? Well it doesn’t. She feels entitled to marry a good guy-love not playing any role there. And her sense of entitlement and the obscenely cardboard character of a good guy are a perfect match somehow.
Also, the book talks about women being given choices. There is a part where Radhika tells Brijesh what sort of choice she wants. Who will take this fact as a nail and hammer it in Mr. Bhagat’s peanut brain that the choice is not for the man to give? Mr. Bhagat succeeds in re-enforcing patriarchy because he is a man who does not know how to handle his words. And he calls himself ‘the bard’!
Also, the protagonist is ostracized because she is dark-skinned. So, there is this underlying theme that Indians do not understand how beauty is not just skin deep. And toward the end of the book, Mr. Bhagat writes that she rejects marital prospects because they are ‘too ugly’. And that is hilarious somehow. Also, it is also established that she is very pretty, it is just that her skin is a bit dark. So, despite the darkness, she is pretty. If you can understand how convoluted this reasoning(?) is, you will know that Chetan Bhagat is a dum-dum who should immediately stop writing.
This is coming from a man who writes inspirational columns in Indian newspapers. It is time we called his bluff and put him and his books back to where they came from- the dumpster.