Chetan Bhagat is popular youth icon of India & popular writer also. He is the author of bestsellers like One Night at the Call Center, Five Point Someone, 3 Mistakes Of My Life & 2 States: The Story of my marriage. His past books had inspired many directors of Bollywood to make movies on his book & movies like 3 IDIOTS & Kai po che are inspired from Chetan Bhagat’s books.
This is the 1st book review from my article series: Unpacking My Library
This is Bhagat’s sixth novel which was released on 1 October 2014 by Rupa Publications. The novel has also been published in Hindi and Gujarati versions as well. A Bollywood film adaptation is planned.
The story begins with Madhav Jha, a rural boy from Bihar, he comes to meet the author Chetan Bhagat and mistakenly he leaves a few journals from his half-girlfriend who according to him has died. Chetan Bhagat calls him up the next morning to discover his story. He starts by describing his difficult entry in St. Stephens, as his English was really bad. Madhav gets admission through his sports quota as he was a good basketball player.
The rich and beautiful Riya Somani is a girl from Delhi, and also get admission through the sports quota. Madhav and Riya become close friends due to their interaction in the basketball court. Madhav wants to make her his girlfriend, but she refuses. He wanted to be physical. Offended by his obscene ultimatum (Deti Hai to de, warna katle), Riya leaves him and tells him not to talk to her anymore.
After one year, Riya marries her childhood friend Rohan and settles in London, where Rohan has a big business. Delhi became unbearable as he is no more connected with Riya, Madhav settles in his hometown and helps his mother, Rani Sahiba, toilets .who run her school. After Seeing the condition of the school where there were no proper toilets. Madhav decides to meet local MLA Ojha for financial help, but the MLA refuses to help him. An opportunity comes when MLA Ojha informs Madhav about Bill Gates’ visit to some schools in Bihar. Madhav gives his best to convince Gates to fund his school, but in order to achieve his goal, he has to prepare a speech, preferably in English.
“Half-Girlfriend, to me, is a uniquely Indian phenomenon, where boys and girls are not clear about their relationship status with each other. A boy may think he is more than friends with the girl, but the girl is still not his girlfriend. Hence, I thought we needed a term like ‘Half Girlfriend’. Because, in India, that is what most men get.” – Chetan Bhagat
In the course of his distress, he comes across Riya, who is now a divorcee. Riya becomes helping hand for him to prepare the speech. The two are victorious in their fundraising, but, after the speech, Riya leaves a letter for Madhav which conveys that she has lung cancer. Riya’s letter confesses her love for Madhav but states she has three months to live. When Madhav attempts to find her, he finds that she has no ties in India and has vanished.
After three years, it is exposed from Riya’s journals that she is alive and that she had lied for her cancer. Madhav goes in search of her in New York. After three months of painstakingly searching, he finds her at a jazz event and the two reunite.
The book ends with the author visiting the same school in Dumraon, three and a half years later, and seeing that both Madhav and Riya are successfully running the school, and also have a son, Shyam.
Madhav Jha, A guy from Bihar
Riya Somani, a rich girl from Delhi
Rani Sahiba, Madhav’s mother
Shailesh, Madhav’s college friend
Rohan Chandak, Riya’s ex-husband, and childhood friend
Chetan Bhagat, as himself
MLA Ojha, in Bihar
Erica, A bar singer in New York
Samantha Myers, From the Bill Gates Foundation
Shyam, Madhav’s Son
Half girlfriend to Chetan Bhagat is a uniquely Indian phenomenon, where boys & girls are not clear about their relationship status with each other. A boy may think he is more than friends with the girl but the girl is still not his girlfriend. Hence He thought we needed a term like ‘Half Girlfriend‘ – Because in India, that is what most men get.
Conclusion: The moral belief by the author is, that quitting is not an option for anyone. That is a lesson one must attain. It is a storyline of a guy who doesn’t have any idea about his wants from life and falls fascinating in love with the very first girl he meets. The girl isn’t judgmental of his “non-English” ways and is amicable and knows what she wants. The “hero” doesn’t quit and has a cheerfully ever after ending with the girl waiting to be engulfed in his arms. In such a scene, one should rather quit the chase, understand what real love is, understand what he wants from life and then strive to pursue it.