Wednesday, 12 October 2016

One Indian Girl- book review


Chetan Bhagat’s much anticipated One Indian Girl is a love triangle. The protagonist Radhika isn’t fair. She doesn’t have an hour glass figure either. She is a nerd. But as an associate with the Goldman Sachs New York office, she earns 2,70,000 dollars a year. When converted to Indian currency it is 1 crore and 50 lakh rupees. Her mother is worried about her marriage. After all who would marry a girl who isn’t fair, beautiful and homely, and more particularly earns a lot more than the boy.

Oblivious to her mother, Radhika has a live-in boyfriend Debashish Sen aka Debu. But he earns much less than her. He feels insecure and an Abhimaan made into a book unfolds. Debu tells Radhika that a career oriented girl like her wouldn’t make a good mother. He walks out of the relationship. A hurt Radhika decides to resign from the job. Her superiors advise her against it and offer to transfer her to Hong Kong Office. She takes up the offer as that gives her an opportunity to go away from New York where every nook and corner reminds her of Deb.

Neel Gupta is a partner at the Special Situations Group in the Hong Kong office. He is twenty years older to Radhika, married and a father of two. Radhika and Neel get attracted to each other. They have an affair. Soon Radhika realizes that this relationship holds no future. She tells Neel that she too wants a marriage and kids. Neel says that these futile things are not meant for a career oriented girl like Radhika and she should better concentrate on her career. Even this relation doesn’t work. Again Radhika resigns and again she is offered a transfer instead of resignation. She accepts it and lands in London.

Radhika’s mother pesters her to have a look at the proposals which she has shortlisted for her. After much persuasion she agrees to marry Brijesh Gulati who works for Facebook. They have a destination wedding at Goa.

Both Deb and Neel gate crash her marriage ceremony. While Deb has realized his mistake, Neel too has divorced his wife. Both of them want to marry Radhika. Radhika refuses to marry either of them. She even cancels her marriage with Brijesh. She meets Brijesh after a couple of months and realizes that he is the man who accepts her the way she is. The novel ends here.

This is for the first time that Chetan has written in the voice of a woman and he does a decent job. His Radhika isn’t that dress-me-up kind of baby doll. Yes, she tries to fit, albeit unsuccessfully, into that image. Lines like why aren’t white-skinned people called rice-ish and my feminism didn’t go anywhere, my masculinity did, make the novel an interesting read.

Radhika shouting at her mother and her mother telling her that she call whenever, end whenever and shout whenever for she is her mother depicts the dynamics of mother-child relationship very well. Chetan captures such moments very beautifully. In another scene when Radhika asks Deb to switch off the TV, he just mutes it. Also the scene where the air-hostess serves Radhika, she feels that this how wives serve their husbands and yearns to have a wife is crafted very well.

What I didn’t like about the book is the fat Punjabi wedding backdrop. We have seen it in numerous bollywood films and even a few books. Why can’t we have a wedding from any other State? Also at places the book abruptly enters into a different territory. The transition between the three stories should have been smoother.

But yes the book brings the dilemma of the Indian girl to the fore. Though it tactfully refrains from offering any solution. At one place the protagonist says that you go to see a much hyped Salman Khan or Shahrukh Khan movie. The movie isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. The same stands true about One Indian girl.

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