Half Girlfriend - Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat is the most loved author in India, and more so because Young India really looks forward to reading him. He created waves with his earlier novels, making people read and inspiring to write- as frequently said, he is the idol for many young boys and girls, and they want to write like ‘him’. This time, his book was even more eagerly awaited than his earlier ones thanks to all the pre-release hype and promotion. As such, I HAD to pick this one for my review!
Getting started, the first thing that caught my attention was the name. Long before the book got released, Half Girlfriend was in news and trending on twitter, and one of the biggest reasons for it was the name. It is a weird name- I had thought and wondered what kind of story lay hidden behind it. Upon reading the book, the name and the story attached to it got a ‘thumbs down’ from me. Bhagat has a peculiar style of writing, being simple with words and the flow, and use of more colloquial flair, which bonds to masses well, hence the fan following, but what has now become repetitive are his characters. I see Madhav, and it reminds me of Krish (of 2 States), a shy guy, questioning himself in girl-matters, giving a gaping expression on seeing a pretty girl, trying hard to make friends with her, and all of a sudden he is the girl’s favorite guy. Coming down to the pretty female we just talked about- she’s a perfect girl, with the most beautiful features, confident, and everything nice from the way she talks to the way she walks. Ananya was the same, don’t you think so? The meeting order has not changed- they meet, buddy-up and after some days, the girl lands up in the boys’ hostel and in the guy’s room. These are the anticipated set-sequences, not coming as something new and fresh.
What I was really looking forward to, was a mind-blowing plot with a heart and some solid new characters. The plot disappoints to a great extent- Bill Gates visiting Bihar!! Now really! The pre-releases emphasized on the English being the new caste-system, highlighting the rural-urban India, while the fact is appreciated that the rural India needs development on all fronts including English education, the plot reflected a minimalist approach towards the same. The whole plot looks like a chase-love story. I could foresee some emotional writing after the mid part completes, and a big climax opens up, but it fades with the way the plot moves ahead. And after that, you just want to get done with the book and make it rest on your book-shelf forever.
I would have loved to see a more matured love story, if it had to be one rather than a dwindling one. When I look back, I see 5 Point Someone giving me a lively look of college life with friends forever and the funny incidents which college people relate to, moreover emphasizing on some facets of career-planning and faults of our education system; 3 Mistakes Of My Life put me through a story of three different people, highlighting some serious issues and making some pertinent points as well, 2 States convinced me of a successful love story despite religious differences, but Half Girlfriend gives me nothing, there is no content which you can take back and keep in your mind once the book is over. India was waiting for Chetan Bhagat’s next but has he delivered the same rage which his books have done in the past? Not for me. It missed out being the bang-on flipbook- the wait was really not worth it.
India Today calls him the ‘Torch bearer’ of new India- yes, because he has the power to connect with the masses, with his audience, and his writing splurges it efficiently. The easy flow of the writing, not too heavy on your mind, lingual punches in between and a very honest way of putting words and framing sentences make him India’s most famous author, whose books are readable across all age groups and people with basic command over English. But then why not use this in a direction from which the youth can benefit, putting across something strong in an entertaining way, the way he has done before.