Chetan Bhagat’s third installment The Three Mistakes of My Life was eagerly awaited by thousands of fans like me, especially after the stupendous success of his first two novels – One Night @ the Call Center and Five Point Someone, which made him famous almost overnight with a cult following of sorts.
However, after reading his latest offering, I was marginally disappointed.
Mr Bhagat tries to blend in cricket, politics and religion (India’s three deadly passions) into a single plot against the backdrop of Gujarat’s earthquake and riot scenario, resulting in an assorted fruit basket of sorts which (sadly) fails to deliver.
The book trails the trials and tribulations of three friends, Govind, Ish and Omi in the old city of Amdavad, as they try to overcome their inner demons and fight against all odds to realize their dreams.
The story is narrated through the eyes of Govind and deals with how he and his two good-for-nothing friends set out to establish a business of their own.
The three friends open a cricket store with the aim of making it big and proving their detractors wrong. Ish is madly in love with cricket and hardly cares for the business. Omi is the quintessential confused person who is happy being with his friends rather than becoming a priest and chanting hymns like his father. Govind is the only businessman of the three and also a lover of mathematics (and Ish’s sister Vidya whom he tutors for her entrance examination). The book dwells on the aftermath of Gujarat’s earthquake, and the effect that it has on their business, a child prodigy in the form of 12-year-old cricketing genius Ali, and the riots that followed after the Godhara massacre. Three mistakes are what Govind makes in his quest to become a top notch entrepreneur – only to lose his business, his love and his friends in the process.
The beginning is interesting as is depicts how the trio build their business, surviving the earthquake and discovering a genius in the little Ali (who can hit sixes at almost every ball thrown at him), and the trio’s successful attempt to train Ali in Australia.
However, the plot loses its chutzpah with politics and religion coming in the way.
The agnostic Govind is forced to join a political party in order to sustain his business but he detests himself for doing it. He is also confused and scared about his ongoing love affair with his student and Ish’s sister Vidya as their escapades nearly gets her pregnant and costs him his friendship with Ish.
In the end, the trio is forced to choose between right and wrong as they give their all to protect Ali from the raging Hindu mob and ultimately realize their destiny.
This book makes you realize the dynamics of friendship and how each individual contributes to make the business a success. Do they succeed in doing so? Can they save Ali from his fate? Can Govind acknowledge his love for Vidya and most importantly does the trio’s friendship survive in the end? They are just some of the questions that will get answered as one goes through the book!