What I have generally heard about Chetan Bhagat from avid groups of readers is that ‘Chetan Bhagat is undeserving’. But my experience of reading almost all of his novels is a bit different – so hear me out for a moment.
People say that he is a writer of some ‘crappy love stories’. Yes, it is indeed true that nearly all of his love stories follow the same nature or pattern of plot. But I would dislike him for this, only if this was politics, and his books formed the ruling party, while I was the Opposition. That’s because even though the pattern is same, the story-line and the depth of social analyses in each of his novels, are notably special and distinct.
Read “Half Girlfriend” till the end, and I am sure that your heart will throb throughout the second half of the book. “The 3 Mistakes of My Life” has a genuinely happy ending. It also has some enthralling sections which will make you think twice and thrice about the Godhra riots and the need for mental stability in the toughest of crises. “One Night @ the Call Center” revolves around the average life of a mentally-unsettled, confused and struggling Indian youth, and is also a good tonic for them.
On the other hand, “Five Point Someone” proves to be a hardcore though-provoker about our education system for any sensible person. He has actually surveyed the actual merits and challenges of the ideas he has advocated in the book. Probably, this is what led to the making of “3 Idiots”. “Revolution 2020” is an enthusiastic love story that leaves a kind of indigestible but conscience-evolving message in the end.
“One Indian Girl” probably tops all of these as a novel, because it has a different plot-pattern from all the other books. In my opinion, readers are bound to become passionate feminists after reading this. One shouldn’t forget the impulsive and ‘love-evoking’ tale of “2 States”. In it, he has again clearly demonstrated his message apart from describing the problems troubling his thoughts. The speech by the girl’s father during the couple’s marriage, towards the end of the story, is just a perfectly-created occasion created by the writer to speak out to the reader, and divulge his open and charismatic stand with regard to the situation at hand.
What really shows Bhagat’s remarkability is the unique enthralling nature of every story despite the similar nature of the plots, the quick-readers he has designed so that even a busy person can gulp down some worthy literature, and the ‘point to ponder about’ he leaves behind after each of his novel. From his side, he presents the facts/analogies to the reader in a neutral matter, and allows them to have their opinions on the issue. This is one of the most undeniable highlights of Bhagat.
He is a writer who has the capability to not only make people aware about but also palpably sensationalise and motivate his readers about the causes he covers in his story. He does this by making a note of the points in and outside the story-line, and realistically demonstrating the pros and the cons of a particular ideology.
Apart from this, he is also a regular columnist and opinion-maker. He actively uses his Twitter handle to further channelise many of his opinions.
Furthermore, he also masters the art of standing neutral and holding a mature opinion for every issue. Though I may not agree with all his opinions, his mature and dynamic engagement towards social issues in the country is highly appreciable and is a notable exposition of his skills.
You will surely realise these features of Bhagat, if you have read through his works only as an enthusiast – and not as a sceptic or critic delegated only for that task. Take it lightly, for it is just literature!