Book: One Indian Girl
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Genre: Bollywood romance
In One Line: Fall in love – heartbreak – leave city – say ok to marriage – say no to marriage – drink coffee
Characterisation: The female protagonist, Radhika, is supposed to be a feminist except when she gets wet between her legs! I don’t have an issue with that because a person can be many things at the same time. I personally thought that she was just an insecure woman who had spent all her youth in the shadows of her good looking sister and so the men were her ‘see even i can have a man’ moments. The read has too much written about how much she is earning and her bonus. The author need not have harped on the same point so much. And, why in the Lord’s name would she even think of quitting the one thing that she is passionate about – her job – for a man? Yes, women do that – love can make you do all kinds of crazy things. But one cannot identify such a decision coming from a lady like her.
Her two lovers are supposed to be the Indian male who are narrow minded and sex starved – they do that well. But they seem the exact opposite of each other with no other shade to their character.
The guy who is the groom-to-be is the ordinary fella, who ultimately, the Indian girl usually marries. I did wish he hadn’t been stood up.
Bhagat sketches his characters just the way it would have been done for a Ranvir Singh movie – predictable and not quite believable all the time or even quite Indian.
Language: Like all Bhagat’s books, the language stays simple and easy for the masses to comprehend. Literature Nazis might have an issue with the simplicity of it, but given the target audience, i feel, that the author does right to keep the read an easy one. I will add a brownie point here because there are quite a few one liners that the book has that makes one giggle.This, for instance, is my favourite – “And the Republic Day bravery award goes to Debashish Sen, I wanted to announce.” (Page 55)
Plot Setting: Goa and ‘phoren’ locations. But the former had a couple of ‘beach scenes’ and a ‘weed scene’ – the rest was the hotel that could have well been situated anywhere. Details about the foreign destinations, for the life of me, I cannot remember because my brain is only reverberating with Goldman Sachs and dollars!
Book Cover Art: I liked it. The silhouette of the girl with the red behind her head brought out the ‘impending wedding’ and the silhouette of the red buildings below shows the lands that have been ‘covered’ in the tale. What I missed seeing were the men, or at least a connotation of their presence.
How’s the Title: I don’t know if the author named the book so because he wanted to talk about one specific girl and her family and her life which is so movie-like that it is not quite acceptable all the while, but yes, the title is perfect because it is about ‘One Indian Girl’. And one Punjabi mum. And one, oh ok two, Indian guys. Their types do exist. But they are not what Indian society is all about. I have seen better – in all three categories. Women don’t change cities after a heartbreak, Punjabi men don’t run after boobs, Punjabi mums don’t nag their daughters about skin colour and marriage. And, yes, I am an eternal optimist.
Is The Blurb Catchy: In the blurb itself the author tells a few sentences about the female protagonist and then adds that “you may not like me”. Umm…is he targeting the men to pick up this read? Is his confidence that the women any case will buy the book bordering on overconfidence? Or is this blurb again a marketing ploy of his. The sale report of this book sure shows that its again clicked for the author.
Learning From The Story: Don’t interview too many people while writing a story. It it will skew your brain towards a biased opinion or give you too many thoughts that you won’t be able to deal with. And, even if you do, do think a little, rationalise and then write.
Areas Of Improvement: The author did well to write ‘as a girl’. But, during the course of the story it seemed to go on and on about what women in India go through – skin colour issues, marriage nagging, work vs marriage etc. Instead of staying solely Radhika’s journey, it became an essay piece on Indian women in many parts.
I understand that the author might have wanted to hear the coins jingle and so he made it so film like. But a scene that is a complete rip off from a movie as iconic as DDLJ? – “he squeezed the rose and ink sprayed across my face.” (Page 8)
What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: Have a friend who you can count on. Men will come and go and relationships will fizzle out. Family will give you crazy times. It is the friend who will hold your hand through your insecurities and vulnerable moments, will keep your morale boosted, and will prevent you from spreading your legs to jerks.
My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book:
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