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By: Chetan Bhagat
ISBN: 8129115301
2.2 Stars
Rating(s): 160
Review(s): 28
Added by: 255
Category : Fiction
Love marriages around the world are simple. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. They get married. In India, there are a few more steps: Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy. Girl's family has to love boy. Boy's family has to love girl. Girl's Family has to love Boy's Family. Boy's family has to love girl's family. Girl and Boy still love each other. Then they get married.

Chetan Bhagat is a name familiar to most Indians. He has single-handedly changed the face of Indian fiction in the last six years since his first book Five point someone was launched on an unsuspecting public. His latest book, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage has all the elements that have made his other books so successful. 2 states is the story of Ananya and Krish, IIM Ahemdabad alumni from, you guessed it, two different states.

As the lines from the book’s blurb suggest, it follows their numerous attempts to win their parents over to the Idea of an ‘inter-caste marriage'. Chetan Bhagat has admitted that this story is partially autobiographical. The story is narrated from Krish’s point of view in first person, a style Bhagat uses often. The story starts when Ananya and Krish first meet in the IIM cafeteria and follows the predictable course of the hot girl and nerdy guy becoming friends and then falling in love. This is when all the fun begins.

Ananya is from Chennai, with conservative parents who want her to marry a ‘well-settled’ Tamil boy. Krish is from Delhi. He has a boisterous Punjabi mother who is hell bent on him getting married to a well-to-do ‘fair’ Punjabi girl. Despite all the differences they do manage to get together and get married and more importantly they do it with their parents’ blessings!

The book is light and breezy and the language is simple. The author uses a lot of cant words that Indians use every day. The narrative of the story stays fresh. Though the ending of the story is predictable, you still find yourself rooting for the lead characters to get together at the end, which I think is the best thing about the book. You get involved with the characters, their despair, confusion and joy. As a South Indian who has lived all her life in Delhi, I found myself relating to both the characters and their families at some level. Be it the mom who brings biscuits to her son’s graduation or the one who loves to sing Carnatic music but is intimidated by her more qualified peers.

Bhagat utilizes the common stereotypes we are all familiar with. Be it the stress in the Punjabi household for marrying a girl with a big dowry, or the importance given to education and success in a south Indian household. However, I feel he manages to use these without hurting the sensibilities of either group. The book is not very long and the story ends before you start to lose interest. Though the story is not a literary masterpiece, it works as a ‘time pass’ novel that can fill up a couple of hours of your day.

Chetan Bhagat’s books work for two basic reasons. One is the engaging stories that read like a modern fairytale and the other is the sound marketing strategy of the publisher. His books are priced lower than most foreign fiction and his print runs are double of those same books. The publisher’s confidence in the mass appeal of the books has netted them rich dividends.

Where the book falls short is the interpersonal dialogue between the characters. The way they interact with each other sometimes leaves much to be desired. One case in point will be the relationship between Krish and his father. I feel the reasons for their estrangement and their subsequent partial reconciliation, though hinted at, are not properly explored. Also, the author’s habit of using informal English in print sometimes leaves the reader feeling as if it is more of a gimmick rather than a legitimate literary device. However, this type of informal writing also appeals to a wide spectrum of audiences.

I must confess that I have not been the greatest fan of Chetan bhagat books. While respecting his mass appeal, I found his earlier books a little trite. I found his characters stereotyped and the situation in his books forced or too implausible. However, compared to his other books, Bhagat’s latest offering shows a marked improvement in his style.
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