Sunday, November 08, 2009
Book Review : '2 States, the story of my marriage' - Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat's fourth book '2 States, the story of my marriage' comes about a year and half after his third book 'The 3 Mistakes of My Life' and is no less enjoyable than his first best-seller 'Five Point Someone - What not to do at IIT'.
'2 States, the story of my marriage' is claimed to be inspired by the author's own love-story. The plot revolves around Krish Malhotra, a Punjabi brought-up in Delhi and his IIM-A classmate Ananya Swaminathan, a Tam-Brahm, who fall desperately in love with each other and want to get married soon. They soon discover that falling in love and getting married in India was not as easy as it sounds. "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. Girls' family has to love boy's family. Boy's family has to love girl's family. Girl and boy still love each other. They get married.", says the blurb. And if the families don't like each other, we have enough material to write a 269-page book that is '2 States, ..'.
The narrative, done through the eyes of Krish, is crisp and humour-laden. The extend to which Krish or Ananya go to convince the other parent draws a big smile on the reader's face. A major portion of the story is concentrated on the Punjabi vs Tamil differences in culture which is most of the time funny, but might get offending at times; especially when Krish's mother keeps referring to the 'Madrasis' as black-skinned and Punjabis as 'white as milk'. On the other side, Ananya's parents also find enough fault in Krish's big-mouthed mother who seemed "Intellectually culturally zero" to them! But that send the sparks flying and the love-stuck couple has to get their acts together to get the families together if they wanted their love to have a future.
Chetan Bhagat has managed to successfully bring out finer nuances of the 2 states by statements like "Nothing soothes an upset Punjabi like dairy products" when Krish tries to pacify his mom after she came to know that her son had a "Madrasin" for a girl-friend or when Krish enters Ananya's home in Mylapore and thinks "A Punjabi house is never this silent even when people sleep at night". The characters of Krish's mom is easily very close to real life and so are Ananya's bank-employed father and Carnatic music-trained mother.
The book can be easily waved off as a 100% entertainer and nothing more but for some thoughtful yet simple lines like "The world's most sensible person and the biggest idiot both stay within us. The worst part is, you can't even tell who is who" or "Sometimes in life you just meet someone or hear something that nudges you on the right path. And that becomes the best advice. It could just be a bit of common sense said in a way that resonates with something in you. It's nothing new, but because it connects with you it holds meaning to you". How many times have we all felt this!
It is these subtle thoughts that "2 States, the story of my marriage" keep the reader engrossed till the last page and empathize with the lead pair in their roller-coaster ride. A thoroughly enjoyable read which can be finished in one sitting. I'm sure this book is the answer to pass time on a rainy weekend or an uneventful train journey. A likely Bollywood-wooer, I see very high chances of it getting adapted into a movie.
The paper-back edition is published by Rupa Publications and is priced at Rs 95.
PS : Have never written a book review for my blog. And I guess I never will! This was written for a newsletter in office and since I was going through the worst of "no-topics-to-write-abt-on-my-blog" dilemma (don't feel justified to call it "writer's block".. writer who :-p) and so decided to Ctrl-V it here as well :-)