Thursday, October 2, 2014

Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat (Book Review-3.25*/5)!!!

The most awaited book of India’s popular author Chetan Bhagat released yesterday. As per their promise, Flipkart delivered the book on the day of release itself. It took me flat 6 hours to finish “Half Girlfriend”- the tale of Madhav, a Bihari boy and Riya, a rich Delhi girl. The cover of the book itself tells how the boy must have been ignored by a girl just because he isn't considered cool for not speaking fluent English. When it’s Chetan Bhagat’s novel, you know it’s reflection of society in some way in the form of a humorous story that doesn't let seriousness of the issue overcome your fun of reading a pulp fiction novel. HALF GIRLFRIEND, in that sense, is an average attempt. 

        There are two issues that CB has tried to reflect through this book. 1. A Class system where people are divided into two sections: Superior being the ones who can speak fluent English while inferior being the ones who cannot speak English properly. 2. A modern relationship in today’s time where a boy and girl are more than just friends but they do not find it appropriate to call themselves a committed couple. The 2nd message has been beautifully portrayed in comparison to the 1st which also keeps the interest level high.

              As always, Chetan Bhagat uses simple English to narrate his story. He keeps the plot easy so that the readers do not find it heavy to remember the names, scenes and happenings. The 260-pages novel is divided into three parts: Delhi, Bihar and New York. The college days is described funnily by the author as he masters in telling college and campus stories. But as soon as the book reaches Bihar, you find a sudden transformation in the writing style and even the story. For the research and minute analysis that Chetan has done on Bihar and the whole culture, attitude and priorities of locals living there should be applauded. The mindset of people living in small towns or non-metro cities is very well portrayed in the 2nd part of the book. Coming to the last part of New York, I found it to be the weakest link in the book because of which I find the book falling down to the mediocre level even when it was moving excellently in its first 2/3rd part. Therefore, the novel neither let the message overcome your previous assumptions (related to class system based on English speaking skills) nor the story impresses you at the end of the tale.

              There are few scenes that definitely stay with you: When Madhav’s friend asks him to make Bihar proud by sexually involving with his high-notch metro-city girlfriend. How it keeps echoing in his mind that he has to make his state proud makes you laugh. Another moment when Madhav reciprocates to interviewers makes you jump off your seat. CB purposefully inserts scenarios that we wish to do in real life but couldn't and therefore, his story clicks with younger audience. Another thrilling experience is the moment when you realize Riya has disappeared suddenly leaving Madhav behind. Moments like this keeps Half Girlfriend in your hands until you don’t finish it off in one go. There are several drawbacks too; biggest being the anti-climax and climax. It is so stretched that you will find yourself skipping pages to find that one page which would give story a final turn. Also, the characters except Madhav and Riya aren’t being involved much otherwise it could have been more fun finding Madhav fighting against everyone’s demon of demeaning people with bad English. 

          Overall, Chetan Bhagat has somehow succeeded in what he wanted to deliver through this book. If you aren't speaking fluent English, you won’t be ashamed in future and will give reference of the book to the people/group of people judging you. If you hang around with a girl, kiss her and still, cannot call her your girlfriend, you have got a new term to refer what your relationship with her is. I give this book 3.25/5. I wish climax would have been a bit shorter and better. Half Girlfriend can also be called “Book version of Raanjhanaa(Sonam Kapoor statter)”. 




prashantb said...

Really well written review

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