Not being an avid reader, when I decided to review a book, the only author that struck me was Chetan Bhagat. With four novels of his released and appreciated, this IIM Graduate requires no introduction. Chetan Bhagat has become a popular name amongst people of all generations’ especially youngsters. His four books comprise – 5 Point Someone, One Night At A Call Centre, Three Mistakes Of My Life and Two States- the story of my marriage. Amongst these, 5 Point Someone is the book which has appealed the most to me.
5 Point Someone – what not to do at IIT, is a novel about the novelist’s life at IIT and the most important things for him at college – his two friends Alok and Ryan and his love interest, Neha. The three friends Alok, Ryan and Hari meet first on ragging day in the college hostel and after Ryan’s courageous move to protect Alok and Hari, the three bond together and so well that they survive four ” depressing years ” in IIT with each other’s support.
The story is about the life of an average student at IIT who struggles to improve his low GPA’s after having messed them up in the very first semester. This five point average becomes a” tattoo stamped on their worth”. But slowly and gradually their grades become insignificant to them and so does the college. They try all kinds of stuff to make life easier and make all plans like, ” draw the line”, ” C2D - cooperate to Dominate”, the most interesting one being ” Operation Pendulum”. The more Ryan, Hari and Alok strategize, the more they land up in trouble, hence complicating their already “screwed up” lives. And this is what the author wants to drive home “… how screwed up your college years can get if you don’t think straight.”
This book showcases the pressurized life of ordinary students at the most premier, and thus the most demanding of institutes. The book, through Ryan, Alok and Hari, condemns the whole system which, to quote Ryan, is “bloody sick”. It is during this period of disillusionment that the three finally plunge into “Floyd, Vodka, Grass and the Insti roof”. Perhaps apart from the three friends, the most interesting angle in the novel is Neha – daughter of Professor Cherain’s, head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, whom Hari befriends. The latter gets drunk during Professor Cherain’s viva, is caught fooling with his daughter, driving his car and wearing his clothes. The remaining bit of sanity that remains in Prof Cherain vanishes when these three blacklisted students are caught executing Operation Pendulum.
The aftermath of Operation Pendulum adds pace to the novel when the readers flip through the pages without a break. With the help of Prof. Veera, the only teacher who believes in them, the three manage to save a year and somehow land up getting average jobs. Towards the end, Professor Cherain’s speech is nothing but Hari’s thoughts about the Indian education system and that GPA’s should not be considered in judging a student’s worth. There is more to life than these things – your family, your friends, your desires and goals. Also the IIT tag is not the best thing one can have. The lines are touching and moving when the Prof says,”… life is too short, enjoy yourself to the fullest. One of the best parts of campus life is the friends you make. And make sure, you make them for life”.
The book strikes the right note and the characters are very realistic. Alok- a boy who never grew up, who had a paralyzed father and an unmarried sister to look after… he knew clearly what he wanted in life- a good job. Ryan- cool, smart, intelligent, practical, a brave heart and who believe in living life to the fullest….. He knew completely that this was not the kind of life he wanted. All he desired were his friends and he would do anything for them. And then there is Hari- another bumbling IITian who can’t get his grades or life in order. He is hopelessly in love with Neha and all he wants in life is his girlfriend or to be like Ryan, or, wait a minute, he is confused!
This novel clearly shows the loopholes in our system of education. To quote Ryan,” this is not a rat race but a mice race because even rats are clever and shrewd.”
Chetan Bhagat follows a simple style of story telling which is very vivid. It is funny, yet touching, a must-read tale for both IITians and non IITians.
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