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Half Girlfriend- Half empty, leaves the reader dissappointed..

                                                                  

I have been following Chetan Bhagat's metroic rise to fame and rightly so in his first 3-4 books. But unfortunately and sadly he has run out of novel and different ideas and that's what Half Girlfriend is.

It has nothing new to offer to it's readers. With it's movie adaptation coming in few weeks time I read the book and present what I felt about it to you.

There has already been some feminist outrage over the crudeness of the title, but as we begin to read we find out that Bhagat simply repeats his standard settings - a college, a common activity (in this case, basketball) and a girl.

Like in all of Bhagat's other novels, the protagonist, a man, suffers from a lack of self esteem. Like in most other novels, the girl he chases is beautiful, talented and we are given the impression that she is too good for him.

Additionally, Madhav is a country bumpkin in Half Girlfriend, which means his diffidence quotient is even higher, and the difficulty of his task greater. He hails from Bihar, the most reviled of Indian states, and stereotypically the most backward. He meets and falls in love with a beautiful Delhi girl. Delhi girls, by definition, are all beautiful, fair and wear short clothes. Bihari boys are closet chauvinists who freak out when denied sex, and hurl choice, crass abuse in Bhojpuri. Thus, Bhagat manages to reinforce another stereotype about India and Indians.

I have no idea why Karan Johar is yet to direct a film based on Chetan Bhagat's books. Such an act would fit in perfectly with Johar's image as a filmmaker who churns out romantic movies with minor modifications to the script. What Karan Johar was to Bollywood in the 90s, Chetan Bhagat is to Indian literature today. His books are in simple English, the script is rehashed, it reinforces stereotypes, and there is a boy chasing a girl (usually in college or classes).

We get similar fare in Half Girlfriend, except that Bhagat now wants to prove the point that a country bumpkin from the 'worst' state in India can end up with a very rich, very beautiful, very 'modern' girl from the most sophisticated college in Delhi.

Though I have pointed out the similarities in most of Chetan Bhagat's books, there are some stark differences between Half Girlfriend and the likes of Five Point Someone. Revolution 2020 and Half Girlfriend have exposed Chetan Bhagat, to be honest. The earlier books were readable because most were based on Bhagat's own life experiences. He could relate to the matter and hence expressed it better.

The last two books fumble for the lack of relevance and context. Like Revolution 2020, Half Girlfriend shows that Bhagat has been unable to break out of the tried and tested boy-meets-girl script even after the incidences ceased to have basis in his own reality. The fact that he cannot think of a fresh script would point to his inadequacies as a writer.

Bhagat also fails to tell us why a high-class metropolitan girl would fall for a rural boy with no talent except at basketball. While this is not impossible in real life, the reasons behind it remain unexplored until the very end. Chetan Bhagat's book can be accused of a lack of character development of the protagonists, which means we cannot feel their emotions.

Here's another blow: Most of Bhagat's other books held a lesson or moral for everyone to follow, however mediocre the expression was. Half Girlfriend is devoid of moral teachings. This is not to say that the book is an immoral piece of work - just that it's a rambling love story lacking in moral purpose.

But is that the worst of it? No. Would it be reasonable if I were to opine that the book propagates the idea that if you seemed desperate enough to win a woman's heart, she'd finally give in? In short, the philosophy that the girl always means yes even if she says no, as long as she's being friendly.

One thing that can be said about Half Girlfriend is that it is less boring to read than Revolution 2020. This may be ascribed to the Delhi connect, which appeals to the Indian metropolitan crowd, and the stereotypes of Delhi women and Bihari men which everyone seems to love reading and assimilating into their minds. Of course, there's the fact that Bhagat again manages to satiate the Indian appetite for dreamy, mushy romance. And sex.

So, the million dollar question : Is it worth a read? Only if you are a hardcore Chetan Bhagat fan, because it's pretty standard fare. It certainly feels like a screenplay suited for the movie-goers as it has lot of things going right from a Hindi romantic movie point of view.

Just looking and analyzing the book I would give it 2.5/5 and say Chetan Bhagat is capablee of much better than this and hopefully he can write better books which has a good story coupled with a message for the readers in his upcoming books.

 

Raghav Ravichandaran

Raghav is an avid blogger, reader and a movie buff, visit http://retrospectively-yours.blogspot.in to read his blogs on books, cricket, movies and everything else.

The Bestseller She Wrote- Love. Betrayal. Redemption- A sure shot Bestseller..

Well I must admit, I am a fan of  Ravi Subramanian's writing . I must thank my close friend Mayur who introduced me to his books. From his first book, ' An Incredible Banker',  I have enjoyed his writing style which is usually a racy action packed thriller based on the world of Banking, , mainly Investment Banks. 

After his  last novel, 'If  God was a Banker' , which was a thriller based on the Bit Coin industry filled with mind-blowing  twists & turns I was eagerly looking forward to this book. And I must consider myself lucky in a way because not only did I get to read this book 'The Bestseller She Wrote" along with getting a signed copy of the book by the author himself! 

Can you imagine a John Grisham doing a Daniel Steel or Nicholas Sparks? Well, that's what we get to see in this book as Ravi Subramanian enters into the forte of romantic thriller through his latest book. 

The author moves out of his comfort zone & dwells deep into a tale of adultery & a middle age romantic emotional drams between an ambitious, sexy young woman who aspires to become a bestselling author & an established, famous bestselling author who helps her to become a bestselling author. 

I could see the direct references he made to real life authors like Chetan Bhagat, Ashwin Sanghi along with mentioning the famous editor Vaishali Mathur of Penguin Publishers intertwined in the plot of this book. Also, I got a sense that the lead protagonist  of this book kind of resembled Ravi Subramanian's real self( a trait Chetan Bhagat makes his living from through  books such as 'Five Point Someone' & '2 States')  which gave an interesting twist while reading this book. 

What then is this novel all about?? Read on to find out.. 

A successful banker turned bestselling author Aditya Kapoor( An IIM Bengaluru alumni), has lots going right for him. He is the head of the Retail Banking division of National Bank , he has a steady & happy personal life- a doting, loving, considerate wife who also was  Adityas  classmate at IIM who gave up her thriving career in the corporate world to teach under-privileged children. 

They have a son Aryan.  Adityas life both personally & professionally is a source for many of his peers & an a source of inspiration for some others. 

This life of eternal bliss changes  quickly for Aditya when he meets Shreya Kaushik( who has recently graduated   from IIM Bengaluru) working as a management trainee at National Bank. She is drop dead gorgeous, attractive, ambitious and she has a dream of becoming a bestselling author &  will go to any level to make her dream come true. 

Aditya Kapoor falls head over heels as soon as he sights Shreya ( like we see in  many Bollywood movies). And he uses his position & power  in the company to get her posted into  his team.  A middle age crisis hits Aditya as he forgoes his personal commitments & enters into a relationship with Shreya, the foundation of which starts when she reads his books & professes her awe of his writing to him. 

Shreya takes advantage of this new development in her life by getting into a sexual relationship with Aditya by getting intimate with him by seducing him constantly. Her motive is simple- completely use Adityas connections & stature as a bestselling author to her benefit. But Aditya who is going through a mid-age crisis considers this to be a true relationship & starts feeling for  her despite his personal commitments.

 

What ensues serves up all the ingredients which makes for a  bestseller. It has love, betrayal, lust, greed, jealousy, hate, happiness, rejection, dejection & redemption mixed in such a way that the final dish makes for a fast paced romantic thriller which I found unputdownable.

 The story line of this book is definitely very unlike the other books Ravi has written thus far, which for me was its biggest plus, like  a breath of fresh air. Having read all his previous books which were mainly thrillers based on Banking, this book beautifully deviates from his usual style of  writing & he comes out tops with this effort.  It's not too often an author steps out of his comfort zone so I must give credit to Ravi for doing that with this novel. 

This novel has three central pivotal characters i.e. Shreya, Aditya & Maya. As it's mentioned in the cover of the book this is set to be a motion picture soon. Well , the plot sure does make for a Bollywood movie what with this being a love triangle of sorts. The romance, emotions, drama & the revenge would sure make for a Bollywood blockbuster. 

And by the way this novel reminded me of the Bollywood Movie 'Aitraaz'  which was also a love triangle. Of course  the plot is different in this novel but the general theme of the book is similar to the movie's . Also the extra marital affair which Aditya has with Shreya  reminded me of the Karan Johar directorial  'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna' where Shah Rukh Khan's character frustrated with his marriage finds love in Rani Mukherjees character. 

For all those readers who enjoy a healthy mix of romance, thrill, drama, suspense then this book is sure to keep you engrossed. Noted famous Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat & Durjoy Datta whose  books which fall in the same genre will definitely need to pull up their socks as Ravi Subramanian through this novel enters their playground & succeeds in keeping the reader engaged from start to finish. 

For the readers who like to read some serious stuff, or who are generally not that much into fiction or don't read Indian Authors then this novel may not pique your interest. But nevertheless if you want to try out something which is light on the mind & yet enjoyable you could probably pick up this book from a book store near you. 

What happens to Shreya's dream? Will she become a bestselling author? What will happen to Adityas personal & professional life post his romantic involvement with Shreya? To find out about that & more grab a copy of this novel & I am sure you will have a pleasant , enjoyable reading experience!!

 

Raghav Ravichandaran

Raghav is an avid blogger, reader and a movie buff, visit http://retrospectively-yours.blogspot.in to read his blogs on books, cricket, movies and everything else.