(This is not a book review. It is a blog that relates strongly to the book and puts light on it's quality. Spoilers! Duh!)
So, finally read a Chetan Bh...more(This is not a book review. It is a blog that relates strongly to the book and puts light on it's quality. Spoilers! Duh!)
So, finally read a Chetan Bhagat book. I have wanted to read one since Three Idiots. The reviews say, he is the paperback king of India, youth icon and stuff...
Before going into a short analysis of the book, let's hear a long story of my interactions with things related to Chetan Bhagat.
My Interaction with Things Related to Chetan Bhagat - Part I
Several years before this day My Place, Dhaka
Let's go back to the Three Idiots era. The first time I heard the name I was like, "Meh!". Then almost all my friends (youth!) have started putting Facebook status' about the movie. Then I decided to watch it. As the most other youths I leached it from a torrent site. I found the 'in movie' dialogues and sequences a compilation of jokes, advices I had already heard previously. It was good, but I wasn't awestruck like the most. Then I saw some guy in somewhereinblog wrote a review of the movie and had almost the same thoughts as me. In which another guy wrote about Five Point Someone (source material of 3 Idiots) and how the book was more realistic and better (as always for the books turned into movies). This was the first time, I heard the name Chetan Bhagat. Then the movie became an all time greatest hits with lots of awards and stuff.
I'll skip part II of the saga because that involves how I spread the story - 'source material of 3 idiots is a book by Chetan Bhagat and it involves IIT' - to my friends. It spans several days, but let's have a lumped assumption that all of them belong to part II.
My Interaction with Things Related to Chetan Bhagat - Part III
Five months before this day Howrah Railway Station, Kolkata
Now this the time when I find out Indian books are quite cheap. When they come to Bangladesh, crossing borders, the price gets doubled. In general, we buy a 299INR book at around 800TK. So what a semi-book lover student on low income like me does is buy some books because he doesn't find it worth to buy costly books in his own country. That said, I started looking for what to buy. Arvind Adiga, R. K. Narayan, Arundhati Roy is the fewest Indian Writers I knew. Then I found out that the shelves are full of Chetan Bhagat books. Since I heard his name before and I also wanted to read one of his books I decided to buy one. Let me take you through the choosing criteria:
1) Five Points Someone: What Not to Do at IIT - Already seen the movie related to this book. 2) 2 States: The Story of My Marriage - I don't know if I like the guy or not. So not interested in his or someone's marriage. 3) The 3 Mistakes of my Life - Well, my friend who is standing beside and also choosing books has decided to buy it. So I won't. 4) One Night at the Call Center - Sounds good. Probably gives the story of one night. Also will probably be a fast paced story. Let's take this one.
There were some other Chetan Bhagat books, but I really don't remember what was going in my mind about them. The other books I bought at this place includes, "প্রফেসর নাট বল্টু চক্র সমগ্র" by আদ্রীশ বর্মন।
My Interaction with Things Related to Chetan Bhagat - Part IV
Five months before this day Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata
A few hours after I bought the book, we arrived at the airport. It was past 8pm, and the stores were closed. We didn't feel like checking in a hotel for the night, we were feeling what people call homesick. So, at the airport, we are. In some sort of waiting hall, we were waiting for the night to be over and catch the plane. We were sleepy and most of us were trying to sleep. I also tried to do it myself. But found out when I'm closing my eyes there were some sort of heavy cold wind is flowing and it makes me open the eyes. What a drag! Let's read the book. I'll be able to tell a story about how I finished (or almost finished) a book even though my body and soul wanted to sleep. Read the first page of this book. Realized, my tired body and soul is winning. I closed my eyes again.
The Book Review
Present day My Grandparent's Place, Comilla
So, finally started reading this two days ago, and finished today. Now the start of the book is really nice, and neat. We have the first person view of Chetan Bhagat in the prologue. Then when the novel starts, we have the first person view of Mr. Shyam. Mr. Shyam is (or I thought to be a) typical sarcastic protagonist. Such books are best read in Mr. Sato's voice. Those who don't know who Mr. Sato is, here is a short description: He is the protagonist of the book and later anime, "Welcome to the N.H.K". But soon I realized, this protagonist is not Mr. Sato Type. He is different and his interests are also different. This contemporary novel mostly revolves around the love interest of Shyam tangled with his and other minor character's (minor) life problems. The character set includes 'want to be model' girl, 'life is a party girl', 'the housewife (! Chapter #26 !) working in call center' girl, the military uncle, the rich dad's boy and Mr. Shyam.
And the back cover does say they receive a call from God himself, and that does happen. But those who are thinking this an important plot point, they will be heavily disappointed. The call comes and ends in the same chapter and it is toward the end of the novel.
The plot mechanism is heavily inspired from some other book I believe. 'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel. In that novel, the writer comes to India, he meets someone who tells him a story that has a 'fantasy/religious miracle' and then he tells the same story that is totally believable. The author admits the fantasy part makes the story more astonishing and more colorful and stuff. Now there is a similar mechanism in the 'One Night at the Call Center'. Author meets someone on a train, shes tells author a story. First time with a 'miracle' (God has called. Ding Ding!) in it. Later changes the miracle stuffs to something believable. The author admits the first version is better. Well, that's where the author is wrong.
Now, to be honest, it is not worth to compare it to 'Life of Pi'. Anyway, here goes. The 'realistic' setting in Life of Pi gives you goose bumps and changes your view about the entire novel. You start feeling sad for the protagonist and feel like you should've gone there to help him. But this book makes you think, the miracle part is 'bullshit', the realistic part is 'extra dense bullshit'. And if you are careful, you will find few dialogues from the movie, 'Fight Club' (I haven't seen the Indian one. The one by David Fincher) changing a word here and there.
Now about the cheesy Bollywood part of the story: "It was the most disappointing part of the novel". I don't know why the protagonist had to chase through the traffic to get his love. Why it couldn't be more grounded? Even the Call from God is more believable than this cheap stuff.(less)
What a fucking joke! That was a page turner I read after a long time, sir. I finished it in one go. Although I have to admit, I read first 22 pages two...moreWhat a fucking joke! That was a page turner I read after a long time, sir. I finished it in one go. Although I have to admit, I read first 22 pages two days ago. But that was small compared to what the size of the book. Just amazed, bewildered. Read something like this after a long time.. The last one was 'Welcome to the NHK' I think. But I don't remember, that was a long time ago.(less)
All the things I'm reading and watching lately, all the mother's are turning out to be bitch. I don't know what has happened to this generation of wri...moreAll the things I'm reading and watching lately, all the mother's are turning out to be bitch. I don't know what has happened to this generation of writers.(less)
What to say about a book that says in its cover, "A dark dystopian portrait of Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib"? The thing to learn from t...moreWhat to say about a book that says in its cover, "A dark dystopian portrait of Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib"? The thing to learn from this line is that there is a very high probability of getting hurt if you are a Sheikh Mujib fan but may find it intensely pleasing if you psyche is the other way around. Now that I've read it I have a lot of question about the authenticity of some of the data I came to know. Let me see the book through the eye of a foreigner, the way I read books about Cold War, Second World War, Vietnam War, Iraq War; mostly written by an American writer. Although the incidents I mentioned are all wars, this book is not about Bangladesh Liberation War but about the events that followed the war. The newly born nation has formed its government almost one year after the liberation. But but a famine struck the country before every sector of the administrator became stable. According to the legends the words that Mujib says, "After the liberation I'm left with a bunch of thieves." The famine takes a lot of life. And amidst of this we get a story of a newly unemployed journalist, a young boy who came to capital to find work. There is another major character named 'Moina Mia' who is the representative of the Political Leaders of that time. The story is well written in many short sentences including a lot of lectures about what everyone's duty in the country is. It is described in the first person view of the journalist Khaleq Biswas who upon struck with unemployment uses the silent, carefree boy Nur Hossain to create a fake Sheikh Mujub and exploits people's admiration about Sheikh Mujib. But as the story progressed the prime minister Sheikh Mujib becomes more and more notorious among the public for his wrong decisions. And the journalist's protegé begin to have a say of his own and being the person 'nothing to loose', his thoughts show some fiery explosions, which in turn make the relation between the journalist and the boy very complicated. The character Moina Mia a Member of Parliament is the typical politician of the south asia. He is more concerned about the leader's fame than the well being of the people. He spends enough money to print enough copies of 'Sheikh Mujib - OUR PROTECTOR' so that everyone in the proximity can have five copies of it, than spending the money for providing food for the starving people. And uses Militia to a great extent. His working force is described who were dumb and became more dumber as the party sucked intelligence out of them. One thing I must mention, that the author has spent enough time and word to justify each action of every character and didn't leave it to the reader. Even the seemingly fraud journalist will make sense at times. And this cheat, even though changes his opinion time to time, will convince you that he is right. The prime minister appears only one time in the whole novel. And he is portrayed as the person who loves his people and he should not be asked any questions. Even though at later part we see how unsatisfied the people were. And the small number of books of Bangladeshi writes that I've read, I found that, they all had satisfying conclusion. This book is not an exception to that. The conclusion is satisfying as well as shocking, the poor perishes, the middle class loathes itself, and the upper class gets away. A spot on ending. Now that I've said that, as a Bangladeshi I doubt some aspects. The writer informed that only 0.3 million people died in the war. But I believe it is 3 million. I have a lot of other questions, but let them slide.(less)
এই গল্পটা পড়া শুরু করি লেখক প্রথম যখন ব্লগে উপন্যাস লেখা শেষ করেন। জানতে পারি আরেক ব্লগেরের মাধ্যমে।
প্রথম চ্যাপ্টারটা সাধারণ হরর গল্পের মত শোনালেও যতই...moreএই গল্পটা পড়া শুরু করি লেখক প্রথম যখন ব্লগে উপন্যাস লেখা শেষ করেন। জানতে পারি আরেক ব্লগেরের মাধ্যমে।
প্রথম চ্যাপ্টারটা সাধারণ হরর গল্পের মত শোনালেও যতই পড়তে থাকি ততই দেখি লেখক কি পরিমাণ তথ্য যোগার করেছেন তার গল্পের জন্য। একটি থ্রিলার পড়তে গিয়ে উপমহাদেশ এর ইতিহাস একটি ভ্রমণ হয়ে গেল। বাংলাদেশ এর লেখকেরা এরকম কাজ খুব কমই করেন। ইতিহাসকে আশ্রয় করে এরকম টানটান উত্তেজনাপূর্ণ এবং বিশ্বাসযোগ্য একটা উপন্যাস পড়লাম। লেখককে ধন্যবাদ এটা উপহার দেয়ার জন্য।