Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT, book 1 by an unknown first time author who goes by the name Chetan Bhagat, but unlike most authors this guy is no art/literature student but a well established investment banker at an international bank, the book was a super hit, topped charts, a story that any 1 can relate to, a story of 3 friends at IIT but it was a story of 3 friends at any college, IIT was chosen because Mr. Bhagat is an IITian.
One Night @ The Call Center, was the next book by him, another fun novel dealing with the lives of a small team at a Call Center and their personal lives, another chart busting book, some liked One Night more than 5PS. Me like all 3.
3 students at IIT are no different than 3 guys at xyz college, what is different is – the course. The happenings in the lives of these 3 guys, falling in love, not having the best of life-styles & yet wanting to enjoy life by living on the edge (and falling from it), trying to manage studies with personal desires is something any one could relate to, worthy guys working at a call center being mentally tortured by their boss is something all go through, add to it love and life sure gets messed up. Call center lives make a good read, especially considering the boom in the out sourcing business people wished to know more about what happens in the call centers, people frustrated with their call center jobs wanted to know, how different are they or how fortunate are they.
With 2 best-sellers & 1 being in the process of becoming a movie, the expectations of the critics and the readers reach Mars and some even go as far as Jupiter (go beyond that you are a rational fool). Chetan, took a risk, after the trendy & sexy stories of a call center & IIT he decided to move on to a topic which does not appeal to a majority of students who constitute to his readers – Politics. Inspired by a true story of guy Govind who writes a suicide note to Chetan Bhagat. Chetan feels an urge to know what compelled this young 25 year old to take this drastic step. What was so depressing in his life that he decided to take this step & more so considering the fact that of all the people in the world & India he chose to write his final note to an unknown person somewhere in the world. Chetan meets this boy at a govt. hospital and then the boy tells his story and thereby stems – The 3 Mistakes of My Life.
A lot of people have felt disappointed by his books, some who are fans of his 2 previous novels felt that this does not have the same feel to it as the first, as I said this time Chetan talked about a more complex issue, issues actually. Religion, faith in God, politics, riots, love, passion, cricket, a vast range of emotions & topics covered excellently throughout the book. It is a really difficult task for anyone to cover this range in a way that is filled with witty one liners and humor, the way Chetan has done in his book.
A friend of mine, Ashwin, called this book – soft porn filled with profanity. I beg to differ with him, Chetan is no literature genius, his books are not meant to be literature jewels, he is a IITian for Christ sake!
What makes his books worth reading is that the characters of his books are real, no fictions, unreal person you dream to be, the characters he shows in his book are ones you can find next to you, maybe even inside you. Be it Alok, Vidya, Ryan, Govind, Shyam, Esha, Military uncle, their lives and problems are real, not exaggerated, the problems this society is known to inflict and bear. These characters are no heroes of a movie, their accounts can be felt and somewhere down the line all of us have seen something similar in our neighbour’s house, in our own house or even in the news happening miles away from us.
It is rather unfair to judge a book by it’s cover, it is rather unfair to judge an book by the language used, the flowery words used, when the language we ourselves use is similar. The multiple use of the f word, something someone objected to, he should listen to a small lecture given by Osho to a group of young followers, where he himself acknowledges that the word Fuck signifies multiple emotions and is used at the best of times & at the worst of times. He says an I quote:
It is a magical word, just by it’s sound it can describe pain, pleasure, hate & love. It can be used as a verb – both transitive & intransitive, as a noun, it can used as an adjective. There are not many words that can be used to express – fraud, ignorance, trouble, aggression, displeasure, difficulty, incompetence, suspicion, enjoyment, request, hostility, greeting, apathy, innovation, surprise, anxiety.
This is 1 of the best audio peices I have ever heard and will ever hear, examples for all the above emotions were also stated.
A word that expresses so much, I find it rather odd as to why people find anything wrong in it’s use.
Chetan’s books are normally a kind of an interview, a talk, a chat between one of the characters & you. It is not a third person account, it is not Chetan who is saying, it is a character in the story who telling you the story from his perspective, this is something I like, other don’t enjoy his style of story telling, but the way his books are, is what actual 1st person account story telling is.
The language used in his books, is simple, no flowery words, no over the head exaggeration. It’s simple. I don’t need to go grab my dictionary after every 4 lines, I dis-like that because it breaks the rhythm and fun of reading the entire book. His books are a mix of fiction & reality, not many can say the same in a language as simple and as understandable.
The way he describes the intimate relations between the male and female leads, how they do the deed, is another issue which people is wrong. I like it. It’s Indian unlike Mills & Boons. Period.
The Bhagat Dilemma as I call it, is in many ways similar to the notion that Hip-Hop/Rap is not real music, singers who have rehearsed for years and years are no where near a gangster with a bullet in his mouth in terms of record sales and fan following, these Norah Jones type singers will never have the kind of fan following that 50 Cent has and they often say that 50 Cent’s music is not real music, something Chetan Bhagat has heard one time too many. Hip-hop/Rap sells more for a reason, it appeals to the people and people can relate to it, Eminem’s songs are lyrics at best. He might not be going to the highest octet, but his songs have meaning, every word has a reason, therefore it sells. People who are not regular readers enjoy his books, ’cause they are simple in language, true to daily life. Chetan’s books have a reason, a message that is put in simple ways & not in the most boring ways like A Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
People reading his books need to look beyond the language and words used, they need to look at the psychology of the characters, the behavioral tendencies of the characters, the response to situations by the characters and at the bigger message that the book is trying to convey.
All his books have a broader message saying that no matter who you are, you can achieve what you dream, whether you are a simpleton working at a call center, or a not-so-privileged boy at IIT and it doesn’t matter even if you are some one living somewhere in a small town in Gujrat.
Believing in yourself & your ability, following your dream & doing the needful to achieve it, standing up for yourself, standing up for you believe is right, this is what Chetan’s books tell us and we don’t need Juhmpa Lahiri or Mira Nair’s long, frivolous language filled books when we have something so simple, something filled with so much of us, to do that.
In the end I would like to say that, no matter what, Chetan Bhagat is one of my favorite author & I respect his style of writing because it makes sense to me, it appeals to me.