Wrong messages conveyed?

Wrong messages conveyed?

Chetan Bhagat says he will only write for the Indian middle-class with their moderate understanding of English. He had even quipped that he could not say much about Salman Rushdie and that he was more like Salman Khan. So it is that 2 States reads like the script of a timepass Bollywood movie, with Chetan Bhagat erroneously thinking that if he must eschew verbosity, he must also give up anything else that makes for good fiction.

2 States is told in the first person by Krish Malhotra, a Punjabi boy from a dysfunctional family in Delhi. At IIM-A, Krish meets Ananya Swaminathan, a Tamil girl from Chennai. They fall in love. The parents meet at their children’s convocation and alerted to something in the air, decide to be very nasty to each other, thereby putting an end to all hopes of a quick wedding. Rather than taking the easier route of elopement, the young couple rough it out because they want to see their parents smiling at their wedding. Predictably, this leads to hectic parleys, tears, rude words and plenty of compromise.
Krish relocates to Chennai to make it happen, successfully woos his in-laws to be and moves back to Delhi with his sweetheart to iron out the few creases that remain. Just when all the pieces appear to be falling into place, disaster strikes. It is back to square one, only this time Krish is an emotional wreck. But then he pulls through thanks to help from unexpected quarters and from there on it is not too far from a happy ending.

Throughout all this, Krish the Punjabi says a lot that you may find rib-tickling or offensive, depending on the orientation of your funny bone. On the other side of the divide, Krish’s Tam in-laws are not given a chance to say anything ‘funny’. Lacking as they do in a sense of humour, they are simply nasty whenever they are not quiet, which is most of the time.

All this means that Krish’s brand of humour encourages and perpetuates the opposite of what is supposedly the ostensible moral of the story. Rather than promote the feeling of oneness among Indians belonging to different states and cultures, the book revels in the racial and cultural differences between them.
Maybe this is a reflection of the times, but the story also seems to celebrate unscrupulous deal-making. Do not worry if you have to maliciously lie or scheme, or be rude, sycophantic or hypocritical, but make the right deals and you will get what you want. Krish strikes deals with most people who cross his path — Ananya, her parents, his mother, his boss, anyone.

And these deals involve compromises for them, sometimes subtly, often openly. The only exception to the deal-making appears to be his loathsome father. Okay, Bhagat may not want to use his influence to elevate his readers, but maybe he needs to rethink some of the messages he conveys through his books.  
In any case, 2 States is a page-turner in more ways than one. If you are a Chetan Bhagat fan, you may well like the story and finish the book at one sitting, stopping only to contemplate the profundity of his punch line. On the other hand, even if you are not someone waiting for the next Bhagat bestseller, there is little else to do with this little book, other than turn its pages quickly and see it through to its end.

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