A note to my new readers from UK: This is the first in the long line of posts that you’ll face over the next few years which you’ll probably not ‘get’, because they’ll make more sense to an Indian reader. Do not be disheartened, brave reader. Go discuss the weather with your mates or pay homage to the Queen, and come back a few days later.
If you still want to soldier on, I suggest you find out about people who read “lulz ntn odr dan ncert buks n chetan bahgat novels”.
If you’ve been living under a rock (read ‘not on Twitter’), then you might have missed the brouhaha over #chetanblocks. Chetan Bhagat was in his period and he went all cranky by blocking people on Twitter. (It started off with a discussion about his books being pirated.) Hilarity ensued as everyone picked up on this made jokes about ‘the new kid on the block’. Chetan Bhagat then wrote a whole blog post split into 140-character sentences and posted it on his Twitter profile. Apparently, he hasn’t heard of his own blog.
Anyway. Moving on to his latest book, 2 States – The Story of My Marriage. I was relieved that being in the UK now would mean that I would no longer have to read his books. Surely Amazon – or any other sensible book retailer – wouldn’t bother to ship his trash this far? Oh bollocks, never mind. I weep for humanity.
So when someone I follow on Twitter mentioned that she had an ebook of his latest book, I couldn’t help pissing off Chetan Bhagat by including him in this piracy-involving conversation to exchange the ebook. Yes, I have a goal in life now – get blocked by Chetan Bhagat on Twitter before I die.
My rating of 2 States by Chetan Bhagat: 0.01 / 10
Publisher: Rupa Underwear & Co
Cost: Priceless Worthless
This book supposedly picks up from where Five Point Someone left. There are nudge-nudge-wink-wink references to ‘being involved with an IIT professor’s daughter’, ‘wearing his shirt’, ‘missing academic records’, ‘disciplinary issues’ and whatnot. Um, so why exactly has the protagonist’s name changed from Hari to Krish? Was the earlier name not superhero-ic enough for Chetan Bhagat, just in case this book got made into a movie? Or does he not read his own books. Surely IIT professors’ daughters getting fucked by people from the institution can’t be that common, bundled with all the shenanigans in the first book.
As I mentioned in my Chetan Bhagat plot generator, any story needs to have a ‘strong’ female character; said biatch being defined as someone who doesn’t cover her face and make chapattis all day. This fact is established in the story by having lead female protagonist Ananya pick up a fight with the hostel caterers at IIM Ahmedabad. And picking up fights at restaurant as to why beer wasn’t on the menu. And eating chicken despite being a ‘Tam Bram, or Tamil Brahmin’. OH NOEZ!!1 In Chetan Bhagat land, she surely must be a succubus.
Chetan’s favourite plot device is ‘tuitions’. How should we make the story progress by making Krish and Ananya hook up? Why, he’ll give her tuitions of course. (Hint – notice any similarities with his previous book?) Initially they are just ‘fraands’ when BAM POOF BOOM they start having sex. HOLY SHITZ!!1 she also wears shorts! In the process, the ones who get the worst of it are pillows. Yes folks, pillows. I’ve lost count of how many times they ‘throw a pillow’ each other. They graduate from IIM-A and get a job in Chennai.
The monotonous part of the book is that it is composed entirely of dialogue between two characters, with filler material from racially stereotypical characters. In the oh-so-many pages leading up to their eventual wedding, we are subjected to Hindu-reading mustachioed South Indian father, marble-loving Punjabi mother, drinking coffee at ‘Barsaat‘, bad South Indian food in Chennai, almost getting arrested by a cop, obnoxiously rude relatives you’d never find in real life (who refer to people in their face as ‘gori Madrasin‘).
How does Krish try to win the approval of Ananya’s family? By giving ‘IIT tuitions’ to her younger brother of course. If only more people in our country gave each tuitions we’d have solved, at the very least, hunger and poverty. We even have the groom Krish catching an autorickshaw and running away in the middle of his wedding while wearing Mickey Mouse underwear visible through a ‘translucent lungi‘. True story. Also, when their kids are born Krish, Ananya and the medial staff are surprised by the fact that she’s given birth to twins. The conclusion that we can draw from this is that India got cellphones even before it had medical ultrasound facilities, made scarier by the fact that an ultrasound was not performed before a C-section. No wonder infant mortality rate is high in India.
But here’s the thing – I don’t think the novel refers to enough ‘Indian problems’. Compared to his earlier work, which “reflects the ethos and pathos of an entire generation“ this book is filled with characters whose lives are strangely uneventful. At least at the climax of the book – during the wedding – you’d expect terrorists to hijack the wedding, and then get beaten to death by John McClane (who had been invited by Krish via email), but because McClane would yelp “Yipee-ki-yay motherfucker” when punching the bad guys the ‘Tamil family sensitivities’ Ananya’s family would have been offended and the wedding would have been called off. While at it, Chetan Bhagat should also added a monologues from random characters about the Indian Board exams, the lack of easy access to drinking water in villages, and how unfunny Navjot Singh Sidhu’s jokes are. Just saying. The book should be more realistic.
Bhagat labours metaphor after metaphor and joke after joke throughout the book. “Certificates from top US universities adorned the walls like tiger heads in a hunter’s home.” “…as much fun as wailing babies on a crowded train”. And humour. Don’t get me started on the humour.
“And some water, please,” I said to the waiter.
“Still or sparkling, sir?” the waiter said.
“Whatever you had a bath with this morning,” Krish said.
“Sir?” the waiter said, taken aback, “tap water, sir.”
“Same, get me that,” I said.
“I have told them of course. They don’t agree,” Ananya said…[referring to her parents and getting married to Krish]
See? Out of nowhere BAM POOF BAM joke. It’s almost as if Bhagat paced furiously around his room during the second edit of his manuscript going, “Shit, two pages of dialogue and no joke yet? [wail] HOW will my readers stay focussed and enjoy my novel?!”
Sneak peek: Weapons of mass distraction that Chetan Bhagat plans to use in his next novel, in place of jokes
Considering that his book(s) almost entirely consist of dialogue, I also find it extremely irritating to have him remind us in every line of the dialogue as to who’s saying what a la ‘Krish said’, ‘waiter said’ and so on. But I guess necessary given the juvenile level of most of Bhagat’s Orkutard readership.
I shall now leave and play Portal.