Chetan Bhagat is truly the great Indian novelist. He echoes the voices of the people of the young generation. A feat he repeats effortlessly on his new novel, “One Indian Girl”, where he brings forth this view of feminism that has been very popular with “edgy” gang of Internet trolls, the right – wing people, and almost everyone else, except perhaps women. Don’t worry, this is not an accusing rant. In fact, I love that people read Bhagat, it gives a space for new readership to grow, a person might pick up a Durjoy Datta next, and graduate to Nicolas Sparks, and might end up reading Nora Roberts at the end of the day. It is intriguing, he levels people. All from the jocks reading in popular schools who had scoffed at the “nerds” who were always drenched in books, to the young Indian boy trying to find sexual pleasure in a confined space. I wonder how many pre-pubescent teens will find their sexual release through Radhika, I would hope not many.
The two days I read his novel, I could understand that Bhagat took these interviews of women and twisted it into his worldview, his political opinion. This is what the book represents. Not a character novel, neither a great plot, simply a regressive political view packaged in a pro-feminist package.
Radhika, the character is apparently a career-oriented woman, who lets her entire life be dictated by men. She would take transfers because of break-ups and bad hook ups. She would bend over her back to please someone. There are fierce moments of arguments wherein the career oriented woman peeks a bit, but, more often than not it is shadowed in a moment or two. This is, after all, a character who seems more teenager-ish than actual teenagers. The lack of agency is disconcerting because well, apparently it is a “feminist” book, but, I get it, this, according to Bhagat is part of feminism. A movement that apparently excludes most women. This is how a privileged person sees movements essentially, as whining from a part of society that is living its life pretty well. For, there are moments where the problems begin to be addressed but, they fizzle down.
The men are stereotypes. The “nice guy”, “the bourgeoisie Bengali, who says one communist line”, “the older man leeching off younger women”, I mean it is pretty much apparent at this point that this is not a novel that would even serve any anecdotal quality.
“One Indian Girl” is plain and tepid, and perhaps the largest fault is, it is inoffensive. There are things you could outrage over, but, it seems alright given the context. And truly, I neither have the patience nor time to go over the whole thing again.
Yet, I would like to rate it higher, because by being inoffensive, it showcases the other side, even though it is riddled with character cliche’s unbearable tropes, weird narrative choices, questionable plot points, it is readable. And it is very readable when it comes to that. This is where Bhagat wins me over really. In his own pace and world, he works, after all, his point is to get HIS views across, to get his plot points there. And well, he succeeds. We lesser mortals only see, and move on.
Rating – 2.5/5