I wasted a few days reading through the new Chetan Bhagat, along side Rohinton Mistry’s Fine Balance and maybe it was Mistry’s awesomeness, or some new found superpower that helped me see through Bhagat’s third book, ironically titled – The Three Big Mistakes of My Life. I would have cracked the joke about reading the third book being my third big mistake, but no, I have made seven, and they are all called Harry Potter.
Coming back to this book/screenplay – bad character definitions, really, really, REALLY loosely held together by a love story, and the traditional pathetic ending that is now characteristic of the Singapore based writer.
We begin with what I believe is a pseudo-real conversation and series of unfortunate events, a la his last book One Night @ The Call Centre. And then we join Govind, a young dude in “Ambavad” who is apparently a genius but doesn’t get into an engineering college to help his mother and to further his entrepreneurial dreams. What makes me wonder, and wonder it makes me: has he never heard of education loans, or the benefits of higher education?
Nevertheless, the story meanders on and on with takes on communalism and cricket, two of the most important aspects of an Indian society and predictably winds up where it began.
It might just be the glaring gaps in character development between the two books, Mistry’s book also has a backdrop of national importance – the Emergency, that prompted me to dislike this book so much, but then I didn’t really like One Night either. The same trend of writing a book with a film in mind continues in Bhagat’s work and makes it sound more like a screenplay than a novel, and though the book boldly claims that Bhagat is India’s largest selling English author, I am not so sure about him deserving that accolade.
What works in Bhagat’s favour is that he can capture the average first time reader’s imagination with his deliberately(?) simple English and easy diction. But that isn’t really an excuse for really bad portrayal of the story – which, I must say, to me seems like leftovers from his previous work cooked in a really old pressure cooker of communalism and cricket.
All in all, really just a rehash of the same old story, as bad as it can get.