Three books and one movie strong, Chetan Bhagat has indeed become a name to reckon with. More than a youth icon, he’s become a celebrity himself. Fact is, it actually took him three years to graduate to being a full-time writer. And with each book, he’s improved a lot. A hell lot, I’d say.
‘Two States’ catapults the 35 year old author to the top rung of all Indian authors in English.
The storyline of the book is predictable from the feel-good titling itself. Two protagonists – Krish Malhotra (a punjabi) and Ananya Swaminathan (a tamilian) are classmates at IIM Ahmedabad. A rendezvous at the college canteen bonds them together, and in a matter of weeks (or rather, days) the duo are sleeping together in hostel rooms. Love blossoms, and by the time the duo pass out of college, they’ve decided to get married to each other. The hurdles seem insurmountable in the beginning – jarring differences between their parents, their cultures and the language barrier being the reasons. Krish gets himself posted in Citibank chennai, where Ananya is working with HLL, and sets the ball rolling. Their carefully-crafted plans suffer occasional hindrances and at one point in time, the entire affair goes topsy turvy but things magically (I repeat, magically) get sorted out with the typical, happily-ever-after-Bhagat-climax.
I was actually smiling for at least two of the three and a half -odd hours spent on Two States. Yes, the first thing that strikes you is the endearing quality of the prose. I’d clearly vote for ‘Two states’ as the most endearing work by this youth icon writer. Chetan has actually tried out an entirely different layout for the book, quite different from the usual crop. So, we have book that’s written like the script for a drama or even a teleplay, for that matter. Yes, the chapters are divided into Acts I, II, III, IV and V! The language is simpler, the descriptions are more vivid and the plot is better-laid-out. Bhagat has carefully edited out the sex though! Yet, the chemistry between the protagonists is much more evident. The pacing of the book is again perfect – not one boring moment in the book! Once you start reading, you’d only put the book down when you’re done with it.
However, the most spectacular feature of the book is the autobiographical element.
It all starts with the subtitle of the book – “the story of my marriage”. Bhagat himself has admitted that the story is inspired from his own life. Yes, he’s a Punjabi and his wife Anusha is from Tamil Nadu, and they did study together at IIM Ahmedabad. Krish and Ananya have twin kids (yeah, I spoiled your climax! :P) just like Mr. Bhagat and his wife do. Plus, the book seems to be a straight part 2 of ‘Five Point Someone’. ‘Hari’ has apparently become ‘Krish’. There are mentions of ‘lost semesters’, ‘affairs with the prof’s daughter’, ‘traveling in car with the professor’, and there’s even a detailed chapter regarding how the old affair didn’t materialize. And to top it all, we have Krish’s repeated affirmations about his ambition to be ‘a full time author’. Krish actually goes about saying that he’d resign his well-paying Citibank job some years down the line! The parallels with real-life scores a high score in the endearing-meter.
Not everything about the book is rosy, though.
Even though Bhagat has been maturing progressively as an author, the looks of his cover-pages are on a clear downward spiral. Five point someone had a snazzily-designed, awesome cover page. But, the cover page of Two states sucks ass! Even going by the adage about not judging a book by its cover, the first-appearance does give a stunning visual impact about the contents. The jarring-red outer-cover with a classless silhoutte-graphic might’ve scared at least a few thousands of potential readers, I’d daresay! Besides, on the whole, the book’s story is straight out of a bollywood movie – perhaps, this has something to do with Bhagat’s newfound tryst with the industry. Like ‘Three Mistakes’, ‘Two states’ has its ultra-corny moments. The way Ananya and Krish impress the others’ parents – that’s way too good to be true. Agreed, ‘Two states’ is fiction, but for a book that has autobiographical content, Bhagat could’ve been more realistic. Talking about Bhagat’s ‘common-man-style’ – many critics continue to denigrate it. In a way, the style is a double-edged sword for Bhagat. It has endeared the author to the masses, but has given him only brickbats from ‘high-brow’ critics. Maybe, Chetan would silence them in his next work.
Minus non-realism, minus the cover, Two States shares space with ‘Five Point Someone’ in terms of awesomeness! I’m strongly recommending the book. It’d be a proud addition to your library, and for 95 rupees, it’s very much affordable and worth every pie. I loved it for the chemistry between the protagonists, the endearing moments, the tongue-in-cheek humor, the simple-yet-poignant ‘Bhagat-logic’, and of course, the central theme – LOVE!
Guess what, I badly wanted to get married after reading the book!
My Rating: 9.2/10
Have you noticed something? All of Chetan Bhagat’s books have got to do something with numbers! I’m assuming it has got to do something with the author’s IIT education.
Five Point someone
One Night @ The Call Centre
Three Mistakes of my Life
The next book will have something to do with ‘Four’.