Thursday, April 15, 2010

United States?

Boredom from resting at home and jetlag caused me to sift through the collection of books and pick up the first one that caught my eyes. “2 States by Chetan Bhagat”- I was pretty surprised to find that one, wondering who read CB in my family (except me of course). Perhaps someone in the family had borrowed it from someone. The last one I read (One night at the call center) was a disaster. Anyway, here are my thoughts after reading the book. I am not starting the usual review with an introduction to the plot because am sure most of you have read it, and those who haven’t aren’t missing much.

1. How much of literary writing CB does is debatable, but the guy sure knows his Unique Selling Points. Concoct any love story, throw in lots of IIT and IIM words in it, add some more of racial divide, specifically the North India – South India divide, put in a struggling love story and people are bound by curiosity to pick up a copy. Spend the first few chapters mocking Tamilians till they are fuming, and then write the next part of the book mocking the Punjabis. Each effect nullifies the other. Eventually it will end in peace and harmony. Everyone will realize their racial narrow-mindedness and bigotry. And they will live and reproduce happily ever after.

2. I think the non-IIT/IIM people read CB to get a perspective of the life at an IIT/IIM, and the IIT/IIM people read CB to see if what he writes about these institutes make sense. Nevertheless, there was too much of unnecessary IIM references in the book. Okay, they went to the best B-school, we get the point. So?

3. Krish Malhotra’s father’s character wasn’t a very believable one.

4. His books are totally Ekta Kapoor and Bollywood material. Throw in some soft porn and it’s perfect material for a Mills n Boon novel. I wonder which Bollywood director is going to make a movie out of this next.

5. Very clichéd story and clichéd writing. I might as well have read the first line in every page and known what was coming.

6. Makes a superb light and fast read, have to give you that. Very simple writing, and although I didn’t feel as ecstatic as I’d feel after reading Jhumpa Lahiri, I did find many lines hilarious. “You definitely have to get noticed, you don't have to do the work. That's how corporate works, everyone knows it”. "Pretty girls behave best when you ignore them. Of course, they have to know you are ignoring them, for otherwise they may not even know you exist."

7. Extremely predictable characters straight out of a Karan Johar movie. Even the names (Krish Malhotra) are very KJo-ish.

8. I wonder what his next book would be about, after dealing with issues of college, job, and marriage. Maybe something on the lines of how to raise kids on B-school principles? A story about start-ups? Maybe a love story taking life from a grad school in the US? A book on joint families and arranged marriages? Any idea?

Overall I will not highly recommend the book, though I will not claim it is a wasted effort either. I can see a certain group of readers who would be attracted to it – the one’s going through the travails of inter-caste marriage, especially if it is a North-South divide, and of course aspiring IITians and IIMites.



Paul said...

I am going to tell you something completely unrelated to the post. Thank you so much for *not* using the "Comic sans" font for this post. I am not sure why you used it for the previous "you are not one of us anymore" post. May be you wanted to try it out, or it was by accident that you chose that font. Anyways, as wonderful as your posts are, please don't contaminate them by using the "Comic sans" font. I say this because, in the designer community, that font is so heavily over-used (inappropriately) that it is considered a curse, yes you read that right, a CURSE. I am sure most of the readers wouldn't care about *how* your posts look. They come here to see what you have to say/write. How it looks is not much of a deal for the majority. However, every now and then, a person with a keen eye drops by and when he/she sees that font, they cant help but cringe. Why give them that feel? even unintentionally. That said, this is YOUR blog and you have every right to make it look exactly the way you want it to. Just thought would let you know about this (or may be you already do!)

Keep writing!

Mithun K said...

I believe that he writes books for the just-started-reading kinda audience...
He isn't good at the emotional stuff either, the father-son conflict for instance seems forced and the prose that accompanies it seems like its the script of a B grade movie...
speaking of movies, i don't think this will be made into one, this theme has been repeated in movies ad-nauseam...

sunshine said...

Paul- Thank you for your wonderful advice, I am not that aware of these things I confess. I tried looking for your email id to thank you personally, but could not do it through your webpage. Thanks nevertheless :)

Mithun- Well, time will prove if a movie is made out of it, though there are multiple references of the movie "Ek duje ke liye" in the book :)

Rajarshi said...

You have hit bull's eye on CB's writing. As Gaurav Sabnis wrote in one of his posts, his books are for those who have never read 'real' books. His books lack depth of human emotions which, I guess, is the crux of any good literature. You just don't feel what you feel after reading, say an Orwell or Hemmingway. And Rupa so very appropriately prices it at Rs.90 (or is it 95?). Another marketing gimmick aimed at a huge segment of yuppies who haven't read anything apart from their textbooks (not even Sideny Sheldon and Jeff Archer).
As far as the 'elitism' is concerned, here's ( a wonderful post by an alumnus of IIT-K and IIM-L on the movie '3 Idiots', another rage of our times.

LoSt iN tHe cRoWd said...

good only 3 mistakes of my life and I feel CB books are tad boring..

sunshine said...

Rajarshi- Thanks for the link, it was an interesting read. And I totally agree with you about your comment.

Lost in the crowd- :)

usha said...

I was too lazy to write down my impressions after reading this book but if I had written them down they'd be pretty much read the same.
It seems that he was already writing it for Bollywood.