Book Review: One Indian Girl

Tales, Pensieve, Book, Review, Chetan, Bhagat, One, Indian, Girl, Romance

Chetan Bhagat in a recent interview said that many Indian women tell him that he understands them better than most men. If his latest book is anything to go by I think those women are right. I won’t say he understands Indian women completely but whatever he understands, he does understand bang on. So for one, Bhagat has researched really well for this book and had the guts to write what he understood. He must have known he will face flank for this and he did; but come on lets accept a section of Indian girls are Radhika Mehta’s.

One Indian Girl is Bhagat’s 9th book to be published and 7th fictional one. To start with the blurb is a pure put off. Nothing better could have been written to put off a young Indian feminist but read it with the glasses of reality on, one realises – this is so true. The cover is decent nothing spectacular. It bodes well with the storyline – A girl with a dupatta over her head, an excel sheet in the background and footer that showcases the famous landmarks of New York and London. This is the modern Indian girl – a generation of women caught between the old and the new, between traditions and dreams, between being the ‘honour of the family’ and being ‘self dependent’, between being termed ‘homely’ and ‘selfish’.

The story begins with Radhika Mehta, the protagonist, at her destination wedding in Goa. She is the typical overachiever middle class Delhi girl from a Punjabi family. Graduation from SRCC Delhi, MBA from IIMA, zero day placement at Goldman Sachs and associate in the most prestigious group at Goldman – Distressed Debt. The money is unbelievably good and our protagonist is the nerdy, hard working type. She climbs the ladder well and is a VP by the time she is paying for her marriage at the Marriot in Goa.

The story swings between the past and present between New York, Hong Kong, London, Delhi and Goa. As our protagonist travels, we travel with her – from one city to another, from one relationship to another, too. Radhika is seemingly having a perfect arranged marriage where she will get to know her would-be husband – the IT guy from Facebook living in San Francisco – once they head to their honeymoon, when emotional asteroids  start landing. First it is her first boyfriend from New York – Debashish Sen, next is her charismatic ex-boss from Hong Kong – Neel Gupta. Add to that the groom-to-be falling for his bride-to-be, the over demanding punjabi relatives and the extravaganza of the fat Indian wedding. Our Indian girl is at her wits and sanity’s end.

Bhagat in his typical style has built interesting from the ordinary. He brings to life many characters that we see around us. The hyperactive Indian mother, the mute father, an insecure boyfriend, a confused lover, a very girly-type sister, prospective groom with conditions…the list is endless and entertaining. Bhagat manages to keep Radhika as real as possible albeit queen style (the movie starring Kangana Ranaut) but he manages well. Many Indian women will connect with her and her little negative inner voice; they may or may not confess to the connection but connect they will. The other key characters are built well too – realistic and flawed. There is no one who is perfect in there and that is something I loved. I especially loved Neel Gupta; would not mind a full novel on him.

Of course there is that one flaw that is typical to all Bhagat books. You can’t even call it a flaw now. It has become more of Chetan Bhagat Writing Style. Many of the sentences sound like translated verbatim from Hindi but the fact it most of India speaks english like that. He writes the english that India speaks, which doesn’t go down too well with anyone who is heavily into english language books. But then the guy has written 8 books, you know what you signed up for. Well I did. So some sentences and a few twists typical to a film-script, One Indian Girl is a decent read.

It is breezy, keeps you hooked with the twists and keeps you interested till the last chapter. In short yes it in unputdownable and being a CB book it is no mean feat. Because Chetan Bhagat on the cover means it also comes with a preconceived notion that you got to bash this, find every fault and write a mean review because CB bashing is as fashionable as husband/ wife bashing in all those jokes on social media.

You want a easy read with some Indian realism. This is definitely recommended.

Title: One Indian Girl
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher/ Imprint: Rupa Publications
Pages: 272
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Romance
Rating: 3.75 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Publisher

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