Book Review: Revolution 2020

Love. Corruption. Ambition. Three words are all that is needed to describe the book. Revolution 2020 is Chetan Bhagat’s 5th book. Like all his other books, this one is also destined to be a best-seller. This is what Chetan Bhagat has to say on the book “Revolution 2020 is foremost a love story, in fact a love triangle, as both Gopal and Raghav love the same girl (Aarti). Corruption, particularly in the education sector, is the backdrop of the story.”

Target Audience:
1. Chetan Bhagat fans. You guys will love the book, no matter what!!
2. Indian Youth (huge market)
3. Entrepreneurs. You will know what it takes to start a new academic institution.
4. People in love-triangles (if you are actually aware you are in one)

Plot: The story revolves around Gopal, Aarti and Raghav, three youngsters from Varanasi. Gopal is the son of a retired teacher who’s deep in debt and struggling to earn a living. Aarti is the daughter of DM and is from an elite class. Raghav is an extremely intelligent boy who clears the top engineering entrance exams with ease. Gopal and Aarti are best-friends from school days. Gopal has a thing for Aarti who doesn’t feel the same way about him.

The story is about how Gopal copes with his studies, high expectations of his ailing father and also trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to woo Aarti. Meanwhile Raghav and Aarti fall in love. Gopal goes through some financial and emotional turmoil, which eventually leads him to become a director of his own academic institu,. GangaTech. Raghav gets a job in a top newspaper as a trainee. Raghav is determined to end corruption. Gopal’s situation forces him to adopt corruption to succeed. Aarti has to balance her life and time between her boy-friend Raghav and best-friend Gopal.

All the complications unravel later on. How? You have to read the book to find out! Honestly, the story was a bit of a dampener. As you start grasping the story, you will realize it is following a straight forward path. And you are right, it does. Until you reach the climax. That’s where there is a dramatic change in the story-line – complete bollywood style. That’s about it, as far as twist-n-turns are concerned – not typical of Chetan Bhagat books.

Writing: Typical Chetan Bhagat writing. It starts with the Prologue which introduces us to the background of the story and how the story originated, and ends with the epilogue, which provides an apt closure. The protagonist in the book is Gopal, who also narrates the story. Of the three central characters depicted in the book, the author has selected the right person’s narration. Had the author gone for Raghav’s narration, the book would have turned into a full fledged anti-corruption book and would have hardly had any takers and would have hampered Chetan Bhagat’s positioning.

Had the author gone for Aarti’s narration, it would have turned out to be a chick-book (similar to chick-flick). Gopal’s narration provides a down-to-earth, average boy’s outlook on life, studies, ambitions, love and the situations which trap him into being what he eventually turned out to be. Chetan Bhagat has vividly explained the competition in the education sector, prevailing corruption, mushrooming of coaching classes et al.

Relevance in today’s times: Now this is where the author hits the nail on the head. Not once, but repeatedly hits it!! The theme of the movie is apt considering the current state of affairs in the Indian political system. The youth and old in India are fighting corruption. In reality, one man stood up to corruption. In the book, one youngster stands up to change the system.

The book portrays how corruption is prevalent in the education system, how bribes are taken and given at every nook-n-corner, how anyone and everyone are eligible to open educational institutions – if you have adequate land. The book also touches upon the plight of students in India and how important it is to get into one of the “top” colleges. And finally, it shows how one man can actually make a significant difference to the society, if he is passionate enough.

To sum it up, the author has come up with a complete package of relationships (love, emotions, boy-girl relationships turning into man-woman relationships, jealousy), systemic loopholes (corruption, power-misuse), education system (importance of IIx’s, coaching classes industry). But the main reason why the book will sell (apart from it being a Chetan Bhagat book) is because it addresses corruption as a matter-of-fact way to do business in India – Chetan Bhagat style.

However, if I have to compare all 5 books of Chetan Bhagat, this book will come a distant second only to Five Point Someone and very close to (but ahead of) 2 States. It loses out on the story-line which is not as enticing as we expect from Chetan Bhagat’s book (Read: Five Point Someone). It also falls short on the expectation factor – this book has been released 2 years after “2 States” – expectations were sky-high. Somehow the book couldn’t live upto them.

After-thought: Revolution 2020 could very well have been written for a movie. Who knows, some production house might buy the movie right! After all, the market is ready to witness such a movie.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

Binu Thomas