Chetan Bhagat has many merits and, of course, demerits are always higher than his merits. However, just because he has demerits, one cannot discount his merits altogether. His novel, Half Girlfriend, is certainly a mediocre attempt at contemporary fiction (or the very genre is mediocre if one wants to let Chetan Bhagat escape from the harsh scrutiny). Nevertheless, the novel raises many questions about our conduct as a society, our failure as human beings and our troubles in modern life. Have you tried to find out any of these?
The novel’s title has been enticing for young readers who want to read fiction to find out how the characters express their physical desires and physical love for each other. And so, Chetan Bhagat has played to his frustrated IIT and Engineering gallery by keeping the title Half Girlfriend – and the questions like ‘will the characters have sex?’ must emerge just by the name of the novel. So, after the title, should we talk about the content?
The novel has a very poor plot and a very wide theme that cannot be contained by the shallow ambitions of the novelist – just to sell many copies, as many as possible. And selling copies of the novels is not a difficult task in the times when we have many contenders for the title of best self-publishing companies in India and the world. So, the novel does take up the theme of marriages by force – the usual scenario in every household in India when children are compelled by their parents to marry the spouse they have chosen for him or her. And this leads to a life-long frustration which cannot be broken so easily. The characters in Half Girlfriend, however, do come out of this dilemma and meet each other at last. Still, the problems raised in the novel do have value. But, did the author raise these concerns vehemently?
The answer is no. Chetan Bhagat only uses these opportunities to destroy them by bringing his writing level down and further down as the novels by him progress. There is a competition within his mind that he has to catch up with the readers who cannot digest the depth of writing for long and they need something to satisfy and mum their urges to read something that multiplies their bottoms…. you know what I mean, don’t you?
Chetan Bhagat is indeed a best-‘selling’ writer and he could, sadly, be more than what he is but, fortunately, cannot be unless he tries to better his thoughts.