Monday, September 27, 2010

2 States - 2 dull !

I recently finished Chetan Bhagat’s ‘2 states’. Before I talk about the book, I have to frankly admit that I am not a fan. The only book of his that I have read so far is Five point someone and only because it said something about IIT on the cover and I was (and probably still am) IIT-crazy. The book was decent while the movie was way better, so I kind of understand why Rajkumar Hirani was saying that Chetan was taking away credit from his script writers. That being said, they should’ve acknowledged Chetan’s contribution. I think Bollywood and Kollywood (and all the rest of the woods) are kind of loose on the plagiarism concept (thanks to Anu Malik and Deva and others who are every now and then ‘inspired’ by other people’s talents)!

There is however one thing I will always credit Chetan for and that is bringing English books to the masses in India. His simple writing has turned many people towards reading English books and I realize it every time I get an orkut invitation from someone I don’t know and notice that they have Chetan Bhagat’s books as ‘favorites’ in their profile’ !

Coming back to ‘2 States’, as all the promotion says, it’s the story of his marriage i.e. how a Punjabi boy married a tambram girl with the blessings of both families.

- The ‘South Indian’ in me got annoyed everytime I read the words ‘Madrasi’, ‘Blacks’ and everytime he made fun of ‘Carnatic Music’ but felt strangely proud everytime South Indians were referred to as ‘educated’ (I never realized that people had such an impression and was pleasantly surprised to learn it)
- The ‘Tambram’ in me got irked when he described the bride being in a Madisar (9 yard sari) before kasi yatra. For an author married to a tambram girl and having supposedly had a tambram wedding, this is indeed a very careless mistake.
- The ‘foodie’ in me did not like the fact that Chetan fails to appreciate the South Indian (keeping aside a description of a dosa as ‘not bad’) and/or the tambram cuisine
- The ‘girl’ in me found it downright annoying that while Krish (the hero) works like crazy for months to convince the girl’s parents and Ananya (the heroine) does almost close to nothing to convince Krish’s parents.

Elaborating on the last point, I think I have been pampered with too many tamil movies (some of them quite good) where both the hero and heroine work with the other’s family for tying the knot and Chetan, on the other hand, is probably used to movies like DDLJ where the guy jumps through a 100 hoops to get on the good side of the girl’s family and the girl literally does nothing. Should I maybe consider this flattering and assume that smart, beautiful women never have to try too hard?

For example, imagine a situation where a desi guy introduces a desi girl to his ‘conservative’ mother. What is the first thing any normal desi girl would do? Say a polite Namaste or even hello and probably the ‘smart’ girls would immediately touch her feet and ask for blessings. Well, Ananya, a tambram from another conservative family, tries to shake her hand!! Apparently studying in IIM makes you less ‘street-smart’!

What I also found surprising is that both of them fail to update the other about the dos and donts before meeting the family, which is the probably the first thing one does before introducing the prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law to the parents who are most likely to be overly critical of every single thing they notice since the power of decision making was taken away from them. How can you be with a person for more than 2 yrs and not even pick up a few bits and pieces of their mother tongue? English is the bane of our existence, I suppose!

On the whole, I didn’t enjoy the book. I think there is a downside to reading a book that involves South Indians, tambrams and singara Chennai....a lot of it becomes personal and the writing being monotonous does not help.
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