If Karan Johar (An Indian film maker) went to MIT , wound up in investment banking, and wrote screenplays instead, he would be called- Chetan Bhagat. I was hoping that Mr.Bhagat’s latest book would offer a rebuttal to the sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach every time I read one of his follow-ups to “Five Point Someone” but fortunately or unfortunately, it simply cemented it.
Reading his last fiction effort “Revolution 2020” was exactly that-An effort.
The book starts out with a typical teenage crush. It shows some promise in the beginning with an interesting series of character descriptions and then, ten pages in, the shit hits the fan. You are basically crippled by the inability to look away from the car crash that is this piece of “literature”. The book winds down with a horrifying climax involving a lover boy who sacrifices his heart’s desire for his ladylove’s best interests. If the author’s aim in writing all the books since “Five Point Someone” was hinting towards a career change into Bollywood, he has succeeded stupendously with this one. Since there is so little to write about this inexplicably low quality screenplay, let us take a quick tour of all his books.
I read “ Two States” with great gusto, mainly out of curiosity, given that my love life followed a similar route. As much as I guffawed at the highly dramatized version of things in Mr.Bhagat’s book, I had to appreciate the sheer showmanship in his writing. He feels the pulse of the Indian audience,as it was 20 years ago and encourages them to think that all weddings are supposed to be glittery extravaganzas and that all major issues are related to religion.You are invariably left wishing for someone to deliver a “Coup de grace” and end your suffering.
In an effort to figure out if his writing had always been such a train wreck, I read “Five Point Someone” once more. The book that millions of readers, myself included, loved so much. And I loved it again. There is no doubt that the book is brilliant. The characters were beautifully described, the writing was fresh, the idea was down to earth and struck a truthful chord. Each of the later novels leaves me with a renewed appreciation for the first book. The effortless flow, and the story telling panache, is something he has never been able to replicate. The book was like a comet- a bright shining moment, and the others are like the tail, leaving a trail of debris in their wake.
The best way to describe “The Three Mistakes of my Life” is likening it to Congress propaganda against Narendra Modi. Religious riots are an unfortunate side effect of a secular democracy. They should be dealt with swiftly, efficiently, and not used to churn out poorly written embarrassments to the Indian literary community. Funnily enough, Mr.Bhagat doesn’t seem to recognize the irony in the correlation between this title and the dismal failure of his last three books.
All in all, maybe Mr.Bhagat should think of permanently and honestly declaring that all he wants to do is join the Bollywood bandwagon. It is an insult to not just the literary world, but to the common educated man, when a movie is recycled into a book and vice versa repeatedly, until one day, they all run out of options.
As one of the representatives of the Indian youth, I will definitely not be reading his narcissistic compilation of talks “What young India wants” since the man clearly has no idea what the hell he is talking about. It is impossible to expect a man with writing so shallow, to have thoughts profound enough to feel the energy and potential of the Indian youth.Despite his efforts to sound like this generation’s Swami Vivekananda, all he is, is a frog in a well. He lacks global perspective, churns out mediocre fare, and is simply a disappointment from start to finish. He should take writing lessons from Amish(Author of the series : “The Immortals of Meluha”), who comes from a similar background educationally and career-wise , and is the pride of the modern Indian literary community.He will no doubt, be able to enunciate to Mr.Bhagat what it is to truly inspire the Indian youth, and impart much needed lessons in humility while he is at it.
In a leap of faith, hoping for an end to Mr.Bhagat’s attempts at being the face of modern Indian literature, I will be saying a little prayer to the “God” at the end of “One night at the call centre”.