Book Review: Revolution 2020

Chetan Bhagat and his new novel Revolution 2020

Chetan Bhagat’s latest release, Revolution 2020 has hit the stands and it’s doing quite well. Why wouldn’t it? After all he’s India’s largest selling novelist of all time perhaps. Famous for being a ‘youth writer,’ Bhagat’s earlier books have either all been adapted into movies or are on their way to be. In the midst of all this, Bhagat manages to come up, once again with a very interesting four hour read.

As seen in all his previous books, a 20 something, middle class background, struggling engineering student, like me, relates very well. So much so that the first half of the book felt like I was reading my own biography. Jokes apart, Bhagat beautifully depicts the agony of a mediocre AIEEE ranker who is too good a guy to be the boyfriend of a girl who he has clearly been dating for seven years. Revolution 2020 is a story of two guys and a girl, a clichéd masala bollywood love triangle with a very unusual end, for a change.

Set in Varanasi, Gopal, a sincere small town boy from a very humble background, narrates his story. A story about love, deceit, corruption, success and sacrifice. Aarti, the girl who Gopal is best friends with since primary school and the girl he loves, is portrayed as a confused, beautiful girl who turns Gopal down because she has never thought of Gopal in ‘that way’ and wants to be just friends, yet she somehow manages to become Raghav’s girlfriend out of the blue. Bhagat, trough Aarti, unfortunately fails to portray women any differently than he has done before. For someone like me, who has read all his books before, reading Revolution 2020 wasn’t like reading anything new. Raghav, Gopal’s friend Aarti’s boyfriend is a JEE ranker (unlike Gopal), studying in the prestigious BHU and wanting to be a journalist some day. The story revolves around the two guys differentiating between the two at different stages of life.

While Bhagat strums the right chords with the protagonist Gopal (or I would rather just call him the narrator as no one is really good or bad here), at the same time, he fails to develop the character of Raghav, who only remains the other guy in Aarti’s life. The relationship between Gopal and Aarti is depicted beautifully over a span of 7 years from cover to cover. I could feel myself mumbling under my breath at several occasions. Gopal’s journey, from a pauper to a prince or from a guy who couldn’t secure an engineering seat to a businessman who opens his own engineering college is magnetic as he accepts the political and bureaucratic system, while that of Raghav, as a struggling journalist, fighting the same system, comes across as an under-written mystery. Aarti is as confused as all female characters have been in his previous books have been and after a certain point into the book, you stop hating Aarti and start hating Bhagat for being a chauvinist. [Yes my friends it comes from me who himself is blamed of being a misogynist many a times.]

Though the name Revolution 2020 comes from Raghav’s newspaper in the book with the same name, Bhagat fails to justify the title of his book. The unexpected ending to the story is less of an open ended reality of life and more of an unfinished tale. Read it because it’s cheap and costs less than three figures but do not expect to be pleasantly surprised.

My Rating: 3/5

Frankly Speaking, I was generous with that and I would also like to give a word of advice to Chetan Bhagat: MOVE OVER IIT AND AIEEE! That might be the biggest event in your life, but life is more to that and with your fifth book at least, we expect you to give us a novel (and not a screenplay.)

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Revolution 2020

  1. even i felt the same way that chetan bhagat is way too obsessed with the IIT topic. also the ending was quite unacceptable to me. the ending seemed familiar as i have seen a same idea in a hindi movie (cant remember which one ) where the main character (the bad boy ) sacrifices the girl for the good guy even though the girl secretly loves him without letting the girl realize that all the events that lead her to hate him were staged by the main lead character.

  2. Ya i partially agree with the reviewer, CB should move on from IIT’s….. Mee too found myself in some parts of the book. The typical indian ”partially modern girl” confused Aarti is loveable but when we take a look at earlier CB work’s is quite similar. Raghav’s character could have been filled with some more events as to justify parallel to the title. Finally Gopal…… Even though it taste like bollywood masala, every Indian boy who read this will get inspired in some way for sure. Gopal from rags to riches have done enough to inspire any Indian below 26. There’s where CB thightened his fist. but could have done the same with Aarti and Raghav too. Gopal faces the things which a common Indian youngster faces. And CB should have written better paragraphs in conclusion. It was like banging the door at nose. But the whole thing is “good-material”.

    • Completely agree with you Akbar. Gopal was inspiring. But would you believe it, I conducted a small survey of people who had read this book and what I found out was that around one third of girls didn’t like Gopal’s character. They thought he never ‘worked’ himself to get rich and it was only by chance. Plus I think its high time Bhagat moved up to a third person story. His narrative is getting boring and monotonous and I don’t think I’ll buy his next book unless he surprises me.

  3. Yes girls may not like Gopal… Because the logic is simple!
    When taken a glance at young india… Here a girl with average looks, could grab atleast 5 boys behind her with love application. But same thing is not so common with boys, its there, but rare.
    Frankly speaking, if a boy sincerly loves a girl its not a big thing, an other boy also can do the same. But if a girl truly loves back… Its really the eigth wonder. The boy MUST not lose her for anything. Some people like Gopal give up,

  4. …..when we view it from side of Gopal, first thing come to mind is ”he sacrificed. But very second thought says ”use karke chod diya” so he did it wrong. Obviously girls will not like such people. CB should have thought about that.
    I am sure CB will come with a better one next time.

  5. Always remember “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein

  6. thanks for the review, very well written, yeah i was quite interested in the book i might consult few more people before i actually shell out my money, hey Aman first time visiting ur blog, nice blog man, keep up the good work 🙂

    • Anurag, Chetan Bhagat uses a tried and tested formula. He does not budge from his previous books and as you turn the leaves of the book, you realise that you have read it all before, and the worst part, from the ink of the very same writer. Also, I think, he has commercial motives in mind more than giving a good read, he gives a book that may make a good bollywood masala film.

  7. Very well written! Visiting your blog for the first and I completely agree with your views, especially the last line “not a screenplay” is bang on 🙂 As you said yourself a 3 on 5 is indeed very generous of you. After 5 point someone I expected good writing from CB but he lets down his readers with each book(except 2 states). I think he is waaay over hyped as a writer, all his books have the same set formula, love story , a little sex, etc. Given his outline anyone can write a book like him. Especially R2020. It lacks his trademark humour which was the saving grace of 2 states n wonderful in 5 point someone. And he always has weak female characters. As u said chauvinist.

    • Exactly Madhura. Bhagat has written 5 books already I think he needs to go out of his comfort zone for once and write a real novel. What he has started in India, the passion for writing novels, I appreciate that, but there’s no point writing if you write a sub-standard novel yourself..!! 😛

      • Its not about relating…the point is that as an engineering student you started reliving your college days and the preparations that you had made and thus you lost out on the fact that if you remove the engineering background, there is nothing new in this book. Gopal’s character could have been so much more negative with his connection, but at the end it was the same bollywood type ending.

  8. Pingback: Revolution 2020 « Second Chances

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