Two States

Hundreds of years ago, inter-caste marriages were considered a taboo in India. Things have not changed much till date. Chetan Bhagat’s latest book- “2 States- the Story of my marriage” reflects the attitude of parents and societies towards inter-caste marriages in India, where a charming and intelligent Punjabi boy wants to get married to a typical South Indian beautiful girl. How the young lovers try to convince their families to accept their relation, forms the subject matter of the book.

Whenever a Chetan Bhagat book is released, it carries with it a baggage of tremendous expectations. No one expects him to win a Nobel Prize for literature but, everyone expects to have a good time for next few days with his book. The book comes with a couple of disclaimers- one, the story is inspired by Chetan’s own life and experience; still it should be seen as a work of fiction. Second, you only make digs at people you care for. With this, he takes the liberty to have equal fun with Tamilians and Punjabis. He dedicates this book to his in-laws. The story starts where “Five Point Someone” ended. Hari Kumar makes way for Krish Malhotra who is the protagonist and narrates the story in first person. The first few pages of the book give us a feel of “Five Point Someone” where the life at IIMA is described. The story moves at a thriller’s pace at this stage and soon moves out of the college life.

Krish Malhotra, a Punjabi boy from Delhi and Ananya Swaminathan, a Tamil Brahmin from Chennai were classmates at India’s premier B-School IIMA. They fell in love and decided to spend their whole life together. (Chetan Bhagat too is a Punjabi and his wife Anusha is a Tamil Brahmin) They wanted to convert their love story into a love cum arranged marriage but, it was easier said than done. The biggest task ahead was to convince their parents to approve of their alliance. In a country where inter-caste marriages are considered to be a social stigma, Krish and Ananya fought hard to win the love of each other’s parents. They take turns to impress their future in-laws. Chetan Bhagat rightly says that-
Love marriages around the world are simple:
Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. They get married.
In India, there are a few more steps:
Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.
Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.
Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.
Girl and Boy still love each other. They get married.

Krish leaves no stone unturned to win the hearts of Ananya’s family. He gave free IIT tuitions to Ananya’s brother at five in the morning. He made a power-point presentation to be given in office by Ananya’s father. He made Ananya’s mother share stage with music maestros like Hariharan and SP Balasubramaniam. Finally he proposes to her entire family with 4 rings made of Gold. Ananya tries to impress Krish’s mother and succeeds after initial failures. Even after impressing each other’s parents, Krish and Ananya still had another Herculean task at hand and it was to make their families love each other. For this purpose, they arrange a family outing in Goa. Then there is a twist. Anyone who watches Bollywood movies can easily guess the climax. The story ends in a “And they lived happily ever after” note. I will not be surprised if this one is also made into a bollywood movie. It has all the ingredients that a movie needs to succeed in India. If you still remember the super hit bollywood movie of the eighties – Ek Duje ke Liye (Starring Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri), you will find lot of similarities between the book and the movie except for the tragic ending. This book also explores the relationship that Krish shared with his father. His father who was and Ex- Army man who had serious differences with everyone in his family including Krish.

The plot is similar to many Bollywood movies but, it still keeps one interested. The storyline is predictable to an extent that you start predicting the next scene. Still, it has a fresh feel to it. The story is old, it is told in a simple manner. Still, the author manages to impress. There is something about Chetan Bhagat that makes him a household brand. There has been criticism of Chetan Bhagat’s simple and informal style of writing. The criticism hardly matters as the author never claimed to be a literary genius. His simple language makes it easy for masses to understand his point of view. It makes it easier for young generation to relate themselves to the events described in his books. Chetan Bhagat is not the most admired author of India but, he is definitely one of the most loved writers in India. He has made the young generation read like never before.

This book is a sincere attempt to raise a very important issue in a manner that appeals to the youth. The book is really enjoyable right from the beginning to the end. This book has its moments that are hilarious and really enjoyable. This is Chetan’s second best work, next only to “Five Point Someone”. Go for it, Chetan is back.

Rating – 3.5/5

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