Let me just begin by saying that this is not one of those long monologues, imbued with self-flagellating philosophy, grindingly difficult to read in a continuous flow, that I usually put myself through. This is the first time my thoughts are flowing as freely as my words.
A part of me always identified with Chetan Bhagat. There is this guy, an engineer turned manager turned banker, who tip-toed around his hobby, vacillating back and forth, and finally gave in to it. I don’t blame him. He deserved it. Being an Indian Man takes its toll; crossing every hurdle instated by the society, passing every test, burdened under the invisible weight of rituals and tradition.
Catering to an audience which craved some form of inked justice to the struggles they faced every day,
His first step was personal. Engineering touched millions of lives and he did justice to Five Point Someone, (Education – check)
Second step – One Night @ The Call Centre tried bringing sense to a person’s life in a call centre, (Job – Check)
Third Step – The 3 Mistakes of My Life narrated a story of three friends who wanted to start a business together but get caught in racial tension, (Business – Check)
Forth step – 2 States wriggled deep-rooted Indian marriage nerves out of their veiny comfort zones for an hour, maybe two, and then they retreated back, relaxed. (Religion & Marriage – Check)
Fourth and fifth step – Revolution 2020 and Half Girlfriend were a desperate attempt at discovering if his spark still lit the bookstores and touched its reader’s souls. It didn’t!
This was the time when Emma Watson launched a campaign for male and gender quality. The so-called campaign ‘He For She’ grabbed worldwide attention when she gave a speech in the UN Peace Summit.
Bhagat got his sixth muse – Feminism!
His TOI columns shifted focus from India’s faulty education system to equal rights for men and women. He nursed this idea, had random conversations with his beguiled fans, and turned up with
ONE INDIAN GIRL
I pre-ordered the book a month ago. The fact that it was written from the point of view of a woman was refreshing. I got the Amazon prime delivery yesterday (So much for extra 80 bucks). The cover looked on point – nothing overdone or underdone, except one thing – the typesetting font! I wonder if Chetan wanted his readers to peer into the books to find hidden clues between the lines. But No! Not that my eyesight is compromised, but it’s an instant turnoff.
The book started abruptly, and I again smacked my head for paying extra. I like it when the author puts in serious effort familiarizing his readers with the background of the characters.
How does your character look? Does she have red hair, or black? Nothing!
I would like the author to paint a picture of the protagonist’s immediate surroundings so that the reader can put himself in his shoes and relate with his projected predicament. One Indian Girl starts with the protagonist having a spat with the hotel concierge for not being able to book extra 20 rooms for her Destination wedding in Goa. That’s how it begins!
Mental Note – Chetan loves to revolve his story around Big Fat Indian weddings. Why? Because Punjabi!
One Indian Girl paints a picture of a well-to-do Indian woman who is stuck in a labyrinth – criss-crossed with male chauvinistic walls, and escape routes stomped with patriarchal jaws. Portraying her as an apostle of blatant feminism, the author has tried to bring into question the prejudiced conscience of men when it comes to a woman earning more than him. An investment banker by profession, the protagonist of this story is strong and confident. Her quick-wittedness makes her a millionaire within a couple of years after starting her career. She falls in love and lives the posh life of a successful banker.
Woman-in-the-making, I like to call it.
Soon the guy realizes that she makes 4 times what he makes and breaks up with her. He thinks she can’t fill the shoes of a full-time mother. She gets annoyed, leaves the city and has an affair with her boss’s boss in another city. He is a married man but expects nothing else from her other than what he was already getting. She still feels unwanted and relocates to another city, where she finally gives in to her mother’s incessant pleadings and makes a profile on Shaadi.com so that the Indian astrologers can play Ludo and find a fitting groom for her.
Yes! Remember seeing Chetan Bhagat advertising for them in the TV commercials? This is called taking advertising to the next level.
So now you know what the book is about.
Humour me! If you are from Mars, can you see yourself in the protagonists’ shoes? Doesn’t it sound more convincing had it been a ‘He’ instead of a ‘She’? Bingo! That’s exactly what the author had in mind. Our patriarchal approach of looking towards anything and everything has created a gaping hole in our hearts, mind and soul which, unfortunately, can’t be filled (or Can It?). We inherently associate our fallacies, our success, and our lives with an ideology that constantly seeks male approval. There are few people who 100% accept that a woman can play the same role, and might be more efficient in doing so!
Those few, my friend, are the real feminists! People who don’t swallow hard when their female counterparts are earning more than them.
People who don’t think that a woman can’t play a role of a mother and a working class hero simultaneously.
People who know that if ‘we’ breathe the same breath, ‘we’ can do the same things.
And the author has portrayed that image splendidly. After sifting through many proposals, the protagonist finally meets a successful Engineer (rarely used terms) and agrees to tie the knot with him. In a dramatic turn of events, her two forlorn lovers reach the wedding venue unannounced and ask her if she would like to play a temporary role of runaway bride and elope with them, separately.
In a haze of indecision, the protagonist smokes up, drinks, dances, and wakes up with a hangover which begs her to decline all three of them! Yes, the wedding falls apart and she goes for a vacation around the globe. Finally, she meets the engineer (the groom-to-be) after 3 months and the story ends.
One can’t give a blander ending to a story. I mean what the fuck!
What happened to the two exes? Did she marry the engineer? No one knows!
The author seems to mimic ‘Zindagi Na Mileage Dobara’ and creates a storyline which can be easily moulded into a script for a Bollywood movie. The punches are clichéd but owing to author’s extended insight into the reader’s POV, they will surely make you smile. The author, at some points, over-sensualizes the process of love-making. His sexapades are a cross between fantasy and reality!
In a nutshell, it’s a decent metro read! For those who like their story plots properly baked, and topped with Ice cream, you might want to think twice before shelling out the money.