I am not a fan of Chetan Bhagat, neither am I a critic and had only read The Three Mistakes of My Life which I found average. Infact it was the rare case of a movie being better than the book (Bollywood film ‘Kai Po Che’ is based on this novel). Then one day while looking for a light read I found Half Girlfriend and thought why not!
The most striking thing about this book is that it doesn’t feel like a book. It’s more like a Karan Johar film unfolding before your eyes. I don’t know whether it’s because of the fact that all Chetan Bhagat’s books have been made into films or because he knows his books will be grabbed by producers and directors in no time he actually writes screenplays rather than novels. Every scene that I read I could see it in my mind. Not everyone is able to write like this and Chetan Bhagat deserves an applause for being able to create such vivid images in the minds of his readers.
After reading Half Girlfriend I feel the poor guy gets more stick than he deserves. His books are light and fun with some drama and emotions… a perfect holiday read. Why do we compare him with other more literary writers? He’s not literary, doesn’t claim or try to be, so why can’t we just accept his writing style or ignore it if it’s too childish for our palate!
The book is a charming love story between a Bihari guy and a high society Delhi girl… And this is just the beginning of a million and one clichés in the book. Despite the very obvious story line the writer did manage to give a pretty decent twist to the story somewhere around the middle. The character of Madhav from Dumraon, Bihar is very realistic – his struggle with English language, hesitation in talking to girls and over-analyzing words and gestures of his only female friend, discussing his next steps with the gang of trusted friends are very close to real life. The high society Riya comes across as a little unbelievable but you ought to give a writer some creative liberty if you want an entertaining story. Chetan Bhagat has beautifully portrayed the town of Dumraon and the school. Rani Sahibaa’s character has been etched pretty well too. The way Chetan Bhagat has woven real life incidents in the story you almost feel it’s a true story and not fiction. If only he could have avoided the overload of cliches in the end…..!! Despite the supposed setbacks towards the end you know how the story will climax, and that takes away some fun. I was still ok with all the last minute drama but the appearance of a child in the very last scene was just too much. I mean, really?! No couple can be complete without a child in the picture??? This is the mother of all cliches in the book, and given that the book had a generous number of those its a HUGE deal! And I don’t know why Chetan Bhagat named it Half-Girlfriend. It doesn’t make sense even after reading the book.
The book however is great for beginners. Chetan Bhagat has given a useful framework in the book for a holistic approach towards learning English or any other language for that matter.
It is a lovely story if you read without any expectations. If you have mildly liked any of his earlier books then you should like it too. But if you are looking for something unique and profound then this is not the book for you. Its one of the books that you want for some mindless reading, finish within a day or two and forget. Its ok if you don’t read it because I am sure the movie will release soon enough!
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