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.)

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