Half Girlfirend Reviewed

The phrase ‘much ado about nothing’ would fit snugly as a one-liner review of the celebrated Indian author Chetan Bhagat’s latest offering-Half Girlfriend. Before you say am being prejudiced, let me clarify, I’m not anti-CB, I did enjoy reading Five Point Someone & stayed up late laughing aloud and waking up the entire household when reading 2 States. I just feel that after a decade, as the writer was so kind to point out, there should have been some kind of improvement in his writing. I was disappointed.
Even the synopsis printed in the book cover:

“Madhav didn't speak English well. Riya did.
Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn't……” I mean what happened to the standard? If you can’t improve at least don’t downgrade!

Coming to the plot, Bhagat has nothing new to offer. Boy falls in love with girl. Correction, horny boy falls in love with girl. Girl leaves. Rural India is brought into focus as boy trudges back to his hometown in Bihar. If the 3 Mistakes Of My Life was about communal violence, Revolution 2020 was about, well, what was it about? Anyway, in Half Girlfriend,  Bhagat brings into limelight the deteriorating condition of rural India, especially the education scenario. Also the obsession of Indians with speaking in British/US accented English & looking down on anyone who doesn't is nicely put forward here.

The plot is cliched, at times scenes of Swades-Highway and other typical Indian romantic, patriotic & social-issue-highlighting movies floated into my mind while reading certain parts. Maybe I’m so used to his books being made into movies, I automatically read them envisioning actors instead of faceless protagonists. There are parts I definitely liked- the usual CB way of letting the world know unabashedly how men actually think. Unlike some Indian & international writers, Chetan doesn't paint an all rosy picture of romance. No flowery language, rather a colourful one is used. If his protagonist wants some action, he isn’t coy about it. And in a country where Moms are kept on the highest pedestal, he doesn’t shy away from pointing out that mothers aren't always right. But then we have seen all this in his previous works too.

In the acknowledgements (yes I read that too) Chetan Bhagat speaks of bringing about a change in the country, of reaching out to people. He talks about the difference in being remembered & being missed. If he brought about a change in his writing, evolve into a better writer, silencing his critics & winning awards, maybe he would be remembered by later generations. But right now, given the craze Indians have for masala flicks, Salman-SRK starrer movies with unrealistic plots, Chetan Bhagat will definitely be an author that’ll be missed.

Pick Half Girlfriend if you were happy with all of Chetan Bhagat’s novels & are looking for a one time light reading. OR you can wait & watch the movie.


Ravish Mani said…
I truly agree with you. Just see the Kick.
Huh! You disappoint me - I thought I would get the answer to what Revolution 2020 was all about :)

Done with Bhagat! I do not know how I stayed the course till Rveolution 2020 but this is IT. I think he becomes readable when he writes semi-autobiographically but is a total mess when he strays off to imagining his own stories. Maybe a good time for him to go to Harvard or something and come up with another semi-autobiographical book after :)
Very true... Chetan Bhagat says India lags good novels and scripts.... It's time he should deliver his own, not just any novel.
Rinaya said…
Actually good observation Suresh! I sure hope he comes up with something better. And chinmay, CB said that?? Oh! the irony... :P

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