Gone are the days when books were read for literary pleasure ... days when the first half of the book would be used to build a complex plot and the other half to unwind it ..... If on one scale we place 'Pride & prejudice ', that was about marriages in early 19th century in England, on the other scale we will have 2 states .. about love & marriage in early 2000s in India. There obviously is nothing common between the two except marriage and match making.
On second thought why do i even bring 'pride & prejudice ' in my review ? the answer is simple ..... the punjabi family described in the book reminds me of the Nadira bakshi & Anupam Kher of "Bride & Prejudice " ....
The talk , the food obsession , the show off , the marriage deals ... it is really impossible to wipe out those images while reading the novel.....
well anyways coming to the novel ... it is about the usual North vs south divide , the boy wooing girl family, the girl wooing boy family etc ......the story in itself is old and repetitive but the treatment is somewhat new and refreshing ala Chetan Bhagat style.... the novel resembles the script of a bollywood movie with its ups and downs and old and new humor bound together in somewhat loosely linked story chain.
somewhere, sometime we all have heard of Chennai's autowallas, pesky landlords , IIT obsession , extravagant marriages of north full of liquor and bitching aunties. Chetan Bhagat manages to ink many moments that compel a reader to recall some incident from his own life, and here lies the USP of the book. Apart from being an entertainer it has something for almost everybody.
The book suffers from usual Chetan Bhagat flaws like characters not being sketched properly, the god intervening and talking , predictable story turns and a hurried end. like a usual bollywood movie one fails to understand how Ananya the protagonist manages to gather all youngsters in marriage and in 2 mins is able to give the gyan and convert the heart of the groom. Similarly why all of a sudden Krish's father turns from a wife beating , "i give a damn" guy to sensitive father, is not at all explained. the story had lots of scope to build the father son rift and coming close , but somehow Mr Bhagat missed on it .. or may be he plans to cover it in his next novel.
Apart from the bollywoodish flaws, the novel is a great entertainer and like all his novels fast and humorous. After four novels now, Mr Bhagat is getting repetitive and now he has exhausted both his student life IIt and IIM. i somehow feel that Me Bhagat would be at literary crossroads in his minds.. weather to grow up and attempt something that would satisfy the writer in him (glimpses shown by thoughts such as the train passes thorugh agra, jhansi , gwalior, bhopal .. many states that make up India but also divide it )or stick to the beaten path of entertainers that merely titillate and would not compel any reader to look at the book twice.
To sum it all , the theme is made by Shyam Benegal or Hrishikesh Mukherji would have been a thought provoking masterpiece , made by Priyadarshan or David Dhwan would have been a laugh riot all along, a degree superior to the book . The book is like Ram Gopal Verma's interpretation of the subject , funny but with old jokes, trying to invoke sympathy and tears but it fails.
ps: why do i always recall movies while reading or talking about Chetan Bhagat ? Any guesses :)