‘Two States-The Story of My Marriage’ by Chetan Bhagat

Two States

2 States: The Story of My Marriage-A Review

Chetan Bhagat has been all over the news channels and print media because of a dispute with the makers of ‘3 Idiots’ over intellectual property rights or something close to it recently. ‘Five Point Someone’ has been a hot topic since the release of ‘3 Idiots’, but Bhagat has been able to take his craft to a higher level in his successive books, namely ‘Three Mistakes of My Life’ and ‘Two States: The Story of My Marriage’ which is the subject of my review.

Most of us are predisposed to the idea that the Indian parents have ‘come of age’ and if the bride and groom are hotshot professionals and are well settled, the parents would fix their marriage at the next convenient date irrespective of the religion, caste, creed, state of origin, or country of origin. We jump the gun saying “Those guys have the hottest of jobs. Why wouldn’t their parents approve of the marriage?” Well, all our theories are proved wrong in this page-turner of a book!

True to Bhagat’s style, 2 States is smooth and linear in its narrative and a breezy read. The narrative shuttles between the two states in question which are like chalk and cheese with vastly different cultures, languages, false pride, and most importantly how one views a person from a different state in India or simply put, prejudice. This tongue-in-cheek account has many a rollicking moments for the readers and there are situations most of us could relate to.

The beauty of this semiautobiographical work is in its simplicity and an unpretentiousness seldom seen in Indian English writers! This is a straightforward boy-meets-girl tale where sparks fly, love happens without much romanticizing and the lovers brainstorm and comes up with a stategy to gain acceptance from hostile parents (they must have learned those strategies from that top B-School they went to). It’s also about culture-vulture parents whose sense of culture and values is heightened when push comes to shove, marriage being the issue here, who will guard those values with all their might.  They will only rest when their sense of order is restored in the world even at the cost of young people’s happiness!  To be fair to the parents, they may have their own reasons to be the way they are taking into consideration they have learned more lessons in life than us youngsters and they tend to be practical keeping in mind the social mores.

The characters are thankfully a little more than the regional stereotypes and effort has gone into shaping them, their motives, and the words they mouth. This novel could also be an instruction manual for lovers seeking parental acceptance…well almost! (no instruction manual is fun but this is…just kidding!). It also substantiates the fact that even if boy loves girl and all is hunky-dory the other way too, in India there is no thus-they-lived-happily-ever-after unless the girl is liked by the boy’s parents, boy is liked by the girl’s parents, and most importantly the parents of the boy and girl like and accept each other, not to mention the cousins, uncles, aunts, dada-dadi, nana-nani in between…you get the picture. A nuclear deal is easier to pull of.

Though he has been regarded as a pariah among the so-called intellectual Indian English writers and the elites of the literary world, Bhagat has been able to go where nobody has gone before – get into the psyche of the so-called ‘North Indians’ and ‘South Indians,’ address the insecurities and complexes they have while facing each other, and break some of the walls of division through his story. Many of my own prejudices have been put to rest after reading this novel which is exactly where this story scores! Chetan may not get a Booker Prize for this novel, but this is one enjoyable book albeit being predictable like all romantic comedies! Call it ‘dudelit’ (antonym of chicklit?) or whatever, national integration has never been this thrilling since SRK aped Rajnikant with cute but shoddily written Tamil dialogues which Rajni never spoke!!!

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