Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 States -- Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat's "2 States" is about true love's not-so-smooth course.  It's about the problems Krish, a Punjabi, and Ananya a Tamilian Brahmin, face when they want to get married and the families are opposed to it.  However, the two seek their parents' approval and choose not to elope. 

They meet in IIM Ahmedabad.   Krish is an  IIT graduate and Ananya is a graduate in economics. They live together for 2 yrs there. Story shifts from  IIM Ahmedabad to Chennai where Ananya parents are and then to Delhi, home to Krish's parents.  Krish finds a job in Chennai and ingratiates himself with A's family by doing the parents and her brother several favors.  Takes Ananya to meet his mother -- father is discounted.  Father is a military man with an evil temper, beats his wife.  Some childhood trauma is described which accounts for the strained relationship between the father and the son.  (When Krish was a teenager, he struck his father.)  Mother is important  to him, so he won't have her upset.  Ananya has quite a formidable task ahead of her when she visits Delhi with Krish.  They attend a wedding -- last minute complications regarding dowry threaten to stop it.   Ananya rounds up the youth including the groom and gives them a talking to. Lo! the wedding is on again.
It was a feel good novel, an Indian Mills and Boon.  I liked Chetan Bhagat's easy flowing style.  There was no awkwardness in dialogue.  He even got a few chuckles out of me.
But it has a feeble story line.  It's not a valid 21st-century theme. And even if the setting were in the late 1900s, this kind of inter-community marriage wasn't unheard of.  The difference in costume, in the food and in the appearances of Punjabis and Tamilians are dealt with at some length. Again, seemed a little out of place in the age of computers and globalization. I suppose they had to meet on neutral ground (Ahmedabad) where their love could blossom. Problems occurred in the towns where there was no meeting of the minds. Seen through the eyes of Krish, Chennai is ultra-conservative, with its people consuming large amounts of idlis, where chicken, beer and sex are indulged in in secret. He doesn't like its music, he doesn't like the dark faces of the natives. Our hero is shallow.  There was no great conflict to give the novel some depth and the transformation of Krish into some kind of Devdas was unnecessary .  The visit to Aurobindo ashram and the conversation with the Guruji was the only enduring chapter of the novel.  Guruji imparts universal truths--beyond the 2 states.  Krish does not even absorb the message of forgiveness.  Seems to me the father learns that better.

Krish appeared quite immature and seemed as though he lived for chicken.  Chick, Chicken--he ran true to nature.  Ananya was a little too sassy for my liking and a little too sure of herself.  She definitely enjoyed needling Krish and dangling that Harish guy in his face. Harish was the local genius, "the poster boy of the perfect Tamilian groom". I guess the author felt there should be a parallel to  Krish's Dolly. Matters come to a head when the two families go on a trip to Goa and cannot reconcile differences.

I felt that Krish would have abandoned Ananya, if his father had not gone to mend the breach, a deus ex machina move I found unnecessary. The mama's boy would have just pined and died. "I still had a day to go as the train traversed through this huge country," he says, "cutting through the states I had battled for the last year.  These states make up our nation.  These states also divide our nation".  At this point, Krish is consumed with self-pity and does not view himself as part of these states that divide the nation.  Krish is not the hero, the parents are.  They are the truly enlightened ones.

Rating 2 out of 5


Mahadev Dovre Wudali said...

no suspense only... I just started reading some books by this fellow... the writing style can be polished up a little.. his stories though modern and applicable are very predictable.. I haven't read this one yet, and not don't have any akansha to either. :-) Thanks for saving me 2-4 hours of my life.

Shilpa said...

Not a book buff at all....but have been used to being a part of Book reviews whr the whole big community wud gather around if to have a revenge on me or so and go on and on for hrs abt Harry Potter.......Da Vinci Code.........The Airport.....Robert Ludlum...God knows wht not.....

But this one's the best review I have ever been through.....wud definitely want to read the book at least once and get back to the review once more.......

Giri Krishna said...

He's the guy who wrote five point something which was made into 3 idiots. When I read five point something, I felt I could have written it myself and when I saw the movie there was a strong feeling of Deja vu. I haven't read any of his books afterwards. I have heard him in interviews on TV and he's pretty clear about his target audience. He's writing for the small town guys who are just moving up the ladder into big cities. In that context his books make a lot of sense. I believe we are ahead of most Indians when it comes to life experiences. I'm not boasting or being smug about it - it is just a discomforting thought.