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.)

Delhi Boy’s reply to a letter from a Madrasan

This is in response to the letter by a Madrasan, dated September 10, 2011. Please go through the following link for better understanding of the post.

Dear Madrasan,

Sat-sri-akal from Delhi! Apologies first of all for calling you with that name. You left me with no better choice since that was how you signed off. Anyway to begin with, I read your letter and was pleased at how your sense of humor has improved. It was the most Racist, inferiority-complex driven and frustrated-with-not-being-able-to-adjust-with-life kind of letter that I read. I must appreciate the time and effort you might have put in to meet 2% of the people in Delhi and stereo-typing the rest of the city on its basis. I was thunderstruck to have come-across how shamelessly you rave about Delhiites disliking you for your color when you fail, at the same time, to notice that despite that, Delhi boys approach you at your friends’ parties and try using the same pick-up lines that they generally use. Yes, SUVs and nightclubs. Yes, we never think of you as SOUTH INDIANS and treat you the same way as we treat SOUTH DELHIITES.

I’m sorry if I and my fellow Delhiites or Punjabis dress in a way that is more sophisticated, presentable, and acceptable than the way our male counterparts dress in lungis and white shirts, stained and odoured with rasam and lemon rice trickling down in fine rivulets, alongside the beads of sweat on your forearms and finding their way to your shirts as you completely ignore the invention of a spoon, the word that usually S stands for in every pre-kindergarten book. I’m not sure if I should go any further talking about the man-boobs that 90% of South Indian men have which I’m sure are no match to the unshapely leading ladies in your films. Which reminds me of us having better things to do in life than block road traffic and climb buildings to bathe a certain Rajnikant with milk at the release of his films. Nothing against your kind of cinema, but pls ask you film-makers too take a lesson from Newton and learn a thing or two about Gravitation, which they tend to ignore while choreographing action scenes. And what did you talk about women empowerment? We come from a land that has produced a former woman IPS officer, a woman Prime-Minister who grew up and lived all her life in Delhi, a CM who has been re-elected for a third consecutive term, and I’m sure after flaunting your education and potential to crack the IITs you must know that its the “people of Delhi” who vote for the Assembly elections. I’m not sure if you have ever come across a real Punjabi woman who had the heart to kiss a Bhagat Singh goodbye to serve his country at the prime of his youth rathar than asking him to go to England and pursue ‘higher studies.’ I don’t need to tell you, presuming you read the news-paper regularly now that you mentioned education as important, that how many Punjabis actually join the armed forces and lay their lives to make you feel safer. Yes, making missiles in a lab might take your kind of a brain, but firing them and facing them, takes our kind of balls.

Since you requested, I won’t mention anything about how are taxes are used by Amma in buying those 10000 sarees and 750 pairs of shoes that she owns. Maybe Bhangra and Gurdas Mann don’t interest you, because you don’t care about any other form of art than that you know or perhaps just due to not being able to understand them, but I do appreciate a Bharatnayam performance as much as a Gidda or and MS Subbulaxmi composition, as much as a ghazal. If there were to be such discriminatory letter contests, then I’d also like to read a letter from a Northie working in an Infosys or a TCS placed in your part of the country and his pains when he is discriminated against; when your people pretend not to know any Hindi or English and don’t even give road directions. But what am I saying, your own letter shows how much you hate ‘all’ of us on account of meeting ‘some’ of us. Maybe you have mastered the art of cracking IITs but atleast we don’t, unlike some of your Southern states (now that you are representing all of south India), fight over water from rivers or demand a separate country of ours. We are proud to be Indians, mind it!

Since you also mentioned something about ‘sambhar chawaling our way into your life’, let me clear it for you, thanks for the offer, but NO, Thank You! I don’t want to bring a marriage proposal to your house which is turned down cuz I don’t have enough coconut trees in my backyard or my purity of ‘religion’ is not proved in a secular country, despite the fact that I’m clearly in love with your daughter and capable enough to take care of her. Yeah, that’s a different issue that your daughter is no Sri Devi and even my distant neighbor from across the park is more beautiful than Sri Devi, but still.

For someone who has problem with someone saying “peerents” instead of “parents”, I would humbly request you to look in the mirror and spell ‘p-a-r-e-n-t-s’ and try (just try, because I know you’ll miserably fail it) not saying “pee-yay-waar-yen-tee-yes.” And also while naming your kids next time, remember that you are giving him a name and not his whole CV and family background information; let it be a name only and not a paragraph in itself.

With a lot of love, a formal hug and a flying kiss (I’d rather have tandoori chicken),

Yours Truly,

A Delhi Boy