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Book Review: Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat

So I finally got around to reading Chetan's latest - courtesy my roommate - and I can't say that I started with high hopes. There was no way it was going to be a literary masterpiece and I was happy that it provided any intellectual activity at all. But then again, Chetan Bhagat's books are not meant to cater for those readers. Being in relatively simple English, he is in fact proving adept at making the youth of India read, and this may be why he incorporates the Bollywood-type-masala-romance element into his writing. But it's working. And on some level it does make for an entertaining read.

The crux of the book is a love story between a guy and a girl. Simple. Enter the guy, Madhav - a tall, outdoorsy basketball player from rural Bihar with almost no existent working English knowledge. Enter the girl, Riya - also a tall, pretty basketball player from one of the richest families in Delhi with excellent command over English. Their 1st meeting - predictably, is on a basketball court. The half girlfriend element of the story is rather weak, with Riya agreeing to be his close friend, but not his girlfriend, apparently facing intimacy issues. There are enough plot elements to keep one interested without becoming too predictable and being spread across three "Acts", the story moves from Delhi to Bihar and then on to New York incorporating settings varying from St. Stephens College to the Gates Foundation.

Without wanting to divulge too many spoilers, I could say that it is probably worth your time, if not for the simple filmy story, then atleast for the social element. Yes, that's right. Chetan Bhagat does include a lot of pointers on how he thinks society should function ideally, be it the cleanliness and noise free atmosphere in the streets of New York, or the way English does create segments in our society, although these pointers are few and far apart. The voice in Madhav's head is also humorous - at times. But all in all it does a decent job of introducing social awareness within the story, the strongest such attempt that Bhagat has produced yet. There is no doubt that there is a movie deal in store for this book, but whether you like it or not is upto you!

Rating : 3.2/5


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