Revolution 2020

With his latest, Revolution 2020, Chetan Bhagat has done it again! Even though I had excused his earlier work 2 States: The Story of My Marriage as a one time mistake of writing with a Bollywood movie inspired plot (I excused him, thinking maybe it was too close to his heart, though I don’t know how true or false that is); I still find it amazing how one Bollywood movie supposedly based on his book can turn a ‘different’ young and upcoming, free thinking writer, who is India’s paperback king, suddenly into someone writing crude screenplays for typical masala Bollywood movies!

This ‘biggest selling English-language novelist in India’s history’ goes on to deliver a luke warm excuse of a story in his latest book  which is not much different from a lot of Bollywood movies we have seen time and again. The plot is classic Hindi cinema, even the book cover is the depiction of a scene from a famous Bollywood movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Childhood friendship, jealousy, girl and boy being best friends, a classic love triangle, one friend going on to become an idealistic journalist fighting to do good for the country and facing drudgery and hardships in the process, the other friend surrendering to the corrupt system and making it big, but ending up empty instead….and above all the girl, a mere pawn throughout the story, who is very flexible and very gullible and very very typical; are the highlight of the book, if nothing else. Bhagat wants to portray the girl in the story as a pace setter or a pace changer for that matter, at periodic intervals; he also wants to depict her as someone free thinking and very modern, but ends up making her look like just another typical heroine in a Bollywood movie who is not given much to do except a few songs to run around the trees and a few very emotional scenes.
Yes, there may be rave reviews for his book. Yes, his book tackles grave issues like corruption in India and how the so called netas and bigwigs of the industry fill their pockets before they even think of doing any good for the country. (And whats more, the timing coincides with Anna Hazare’s movement so well). But all this is more background noise than much else. The protagonist of the book, an average person, beaten by the system, a ‘loser; in every sense, makes it big despite all odds against him. While this is what Bhagat’s work always has been about; and while what endeared him to the young readers was that they could identify with this ‘loser’; somewhere down the line, this ‘loser’ lost that grip on us readers. The ‘loser’ from Five Point Someone became successful, because he had something in him that made him different from everyone else around him who were ‘better’ than him. But the ‘loser’ in Revolution 2020 gets ahead in life with very ‘filmy’ means. This ‘loser’ who is for the first half of the book very close to a lot of people’s heart, suddenly becomes that much more distant as he starts learning the ropes of the ‘corruption’ business and goes on to become the youngest Director of a private college built on corruption money. Towards the end, the girl in the book (once again brought in to change the pace and the direction of the story), makes him human again for us, and suddenly, also a martyr!
When I heard Bhagat’s latest book was out, I couldn’t lay my hands on it soon enough! But when I read the book, I was disappointed, in the author; and my in my belief in the author. Chetan Bhagat is someone we look upto to write about issues of our generation. This is a writer who has given us a lot of characters which we have seen in our everyday lives make it big despite facing issues that commoners like us face on an everyday basis. Though in this book, the basic premise still continues, Bhagat doesn’t connect the way he connected in his earlier works, by which I mean all that he wrote before Five Point Someone.
Please bring the earlier Chetan Bhagat back! We don’t want another fiction writer who only wants movies made out of his books, please, we want a writer who is the voice of the young generation of India…..and this voice doesn’t need to be confined only to a few chapters of the book! “You are a good man” Mr. Bhagat, please go back to being ‘different’…..

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