Monday, January 16, 2012

2 States - The story of my marriage

Book Title – 2 States, The Story of my marriage
Author – Chetan Bhagat
Genre – Fiction, Romance, Drama
Year Published - 2009
My rating – 4/10

The Story

Krish and Ananya meet as students in one of the most reputed MBA colleges of India and fall in love. Krish wants to be a writer someday and Ananya is an ambitious girl with a rebellious temperament. Love, they say has no boundaries but geography is what comes across as the biggest obstacle in the couple’s union.

Krish is from Delhi, India’s capital situated in the northern part of the country and Ananya is from Tamilnadu, a state in the south of India. Not only are the two states poles apart, each at one corner on the map but the people couldn’t be more different. From clothes to cuisine; appearance to mannerism; religion to culture, everything about them is a contrast. Parents of both Krish and Ananya are not happy with this self sought alliance and in a place like India where majority of the marriages are still “arranged” it can mean trouble.

It is this journey between the two states that takes the story forward. How krish manages to make a place for himself in Ananya’s household and how Ananya argues her way to acceptance at a North Indian wedding is what this drama is all about.

The Review

Chetan Bhagat writes movies. When I pick up a book written by him (and I have read most of them by now), there is this distinct feeling of reading a hindi masala movie instead of a novel. So is that supposed to be good or bad? That depends on whether you like masala movies or not.

Let us begin with some good things about this book.

As always, the author starts on an interesting note. He captures your attention and prompts you to read on. The pace of the story is fast enough. A boy and a girl from 2 different states in India, as different as chalk and cheese, fall in love and want to get married. The story shifts base from Ahmedabad (a neutral ground) and then alternates between Delhi and Chennai as Krish and Ananya try all the tricks in the books to turn the objections of their parents into affirmation.

Humor is definitely the strong point of this book. Chetan Bhagat’s writing style is witty and it comes across even at critical junctures in the story making them memorable. Ananya’s sizzling responses to Krish’s sly comments are amusing. Krish’s dealings with his boss Bala are also funny in places.

The author shows a progression of relationship from love, sex and living in together as naturally as everything else without sensationalizing it. Maybe there is a point to prove. Maybe the intention of the author is to tell us that the new age generation in India doesn’t treat those as taboo. If that really is the case, it’s a wonderful change.

The character portrayal of Ananya is very impressive. I am not surprised considering that the book is based on the Author’s own romance and subsequent marriage to his batch mate. Ananya is smart, independent and can stand up for herself and her loved ones. She can also not cook, which in my opinion is a trait possessed by a strong personality taken into context of an Indian society.

Chetan Bhagat’s books always have a lot of things going on in them and 2 States is no different. Here, Krish comes from a dysfunctional family and deals with it as any normal person can be expected to. The author paints a very honest picture of how things work in such households, especially with women. They make up excuses for what needs to be exposed and they stay on even in the most hopeless of marriages resigned to fate. For women like Krish’s mother, it pays to be knowingly oblivious as the alternate is even more scary; social stigma.

Now the not so good part:

It is hard for a non-Indian to relate to this book. It is not a universal love story that anybody anywhere in this world can read and enjoy. No, you have to know India, its people, its geographical and caste divide to actually appreciate the humor and drama in this novel.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Chetan Bhagat doesn’t write books, he writes movies. It is like one cliché followed by another and the book doesn’t end till he has tried them all. The parts where krish tries to make his place in the Swaminathan househould to the big fat Punjabi wedding episode, it all looks translated from a Hindi movie. Chetan Bhagat is a very popular author and his books have been made into movies because they are already movie ready!

From the main characters, Krish lacks the personality that Ananya is so full of. Maybe it’s true, opposites attract.

Krish’s maternal side of the family is too much to take. I wish the author had given them fewer pages.

The hunky dory scene with the father as the story concludes is a total sham. One minute Krish  can’t stand the sight of his glass hurling, loser of a husband, father and a couple of pages down the father is forgiven, all his misdeeds forgotten, because of that one trip to Chennai. I guess anything can happen in books.

I will sum it up like this. If you are a teenager and looking to read an Indian love story you may like this book as a light breezy read, getting too much like a hindi movie at times, yet enjoyable. BUT if you are looking for a good read with no background whatsoever in the ways of the world in those two states of India, this isn’t the book for you.

My recommendation would be a NO assuming the reader could be anybody and from any part of the world.

Chetan Bhagat has a very good flow with the way he writes his stories. I do not doubt his writing skills; in fact I quite like the sharp humor exhibited in his books. I am just waiting for him to go beyond the clichés to actually appreciate his writings.

Significant Specifics
Most of this book is a true account of the Author’s own romance and marriage.

1 comment:

  1. Chetan bhagat novels, esp 2 states is the first Indian novel that I read and this prompted me to take it to the next level by blogging.. though i havent reviewed any of his novels yet.. and yes he writes a fiction so strong for movies, which many have proved to be blockbusters..still since this was his own life story, i think this stands out than the rest of his novels