Chetan Bhagat’s '2 States-The Story Of My Marriage', is a funny take on inter-community marriages, writes K. Jeshi
It’s a love story of a Punjabi boy and a Tamilian girl. They meet at IIM, Ahmedabad, and decide to get married. But, the underlying problem is the resentment from both families.
“Parents still have the remote control when it comes to emotions,” says Chetan Bhagat, the author of best sellers Five Point Someone, One Night At A Call Centre and Three Mistakes Of My Life.
“However independent you are, getting married without parents’ approval is not good for the relationship.”
Speaking about his latest book, 2 States — The Story Of My Marriage, based on his marriage, he clarifies: “It’s not a memoir. It was nice, the feeling of suspension of disbelief, but it involves my own family, so I want to make it clear that it is a work of fiction.” So, there are character changes and the dramatisation is higher.
Calling it a fluffy novel, he says it is personal and treats the complex issue of inter-community marriages, the fun way. And, sends home a bigger message of a homogeneous society.
“Homogeneity is important for a country to move forward. Today’s youth are travelling to different cities for studies and work, and they will meet someone. But, parents are still rooted in prejudices; that has to be addressed,” adds the former banker.
He cites the success stories of Korea, Taiwan and China that have seen progress from a developing country by adopting homogeneity.
Making a connect
What he strives to achieve is to unite youth through his books. “Youth power is a myth. Leaders are not listening to them and they are considered a non-politically affiliated vote bank. My books are community-neutral and the common goal is to make India a diverse nation.”
The author also addresses youth issues through his columns in newspapers.
The story of 2 States…, set in Delhi and Chennai, moves from courtship (25 per cent) to parents (75 per cent). “A Punjabi boy comes to live in Chennai and impress the girl’s parents. Marriage and love are something people can’t have enough of. We had an ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ some 25 years ago. India really dresses up to celebrate weddings, because there is human hope that life is going to be heaven. Mostly it sucks; in some parts it is good,” he jokes.
Ask him about the ‘Chetan Bhagat phenomenon’ that has struck a chord with the youth, and he smiles and says: “May be, I am blessed with buzz. The stories make them happy, confident and inspired. It is about people like them facing problems and overcoming them. That draws the younger generation. And, their love for the author is because I know what their pain is.”
“Also, it moves fast, engages, is relatable and, I guess, there is social pressure among the youth to read it,” he adds.
Keeping aside literary criticism, he says it gives him a sense of pride that vernacular students read his books to get an introduction to English. “I am told that tribal students in Bastar in Chhattisgarh read my books, and there is a dramatic change in their self-confidence.”
Being the change
About his style of writing, he says bad reviews hurt him.
“It bothers me when people judge me inferiorly. It may fall short according to their parameters; I can make some improvements, but I can’t start writing like Salman Rushdie. The function of literature is to reflect society. I am causing some change in a large part of India, which is far more satisfying.”
His new book, he says, “is a social comment on homogeneity, told entertainingly. Romance never goes out of fashion. Everyone wants that one person who’d love them forever.”
About Five Point Someone being adapted as “Three Idiots” , starring Aamir Khan, he says the plot and the storyline is different but the setting, characters, key conflict and the message remain the same.
What next? “I want to write for Bollywood — all fun-filled love stories on relationships.”
( 2 States-The Story Of My Marriage, published by Rupa, is priced at Rs. 95)