One Indian Girl – Book Review
Another Chetan Bhagat book? I’m always eager to read that because unlike many other people, I admire the man for initiating the reading culture in India among teenagers and young adults. One Indian Girl was special because in a much needed time, this was a book about women empowerment and feminism, which was also a clever move to sell millions of copies.
Please note that if you are looking for a spoiler free book review of One Indian Girl, you should not read ahead, I did not like the book, but to explain why, I will have to mention elements that might spoil your reading experience.
The book has a predictable storyline
Well, that’s not a new thing. He has been writing more for the movie adaptations off-lately (especially after the success of 2 states with Dharma Productions). We have a girl (Radhika) who belongs to a Punjabi family (no surprises there), who is doing extremely well in her career (no surprises there) and earning loads of money (no surprises there as well).
We have a guy (Debashish) who is smart and strikes the perfect chords with Radhika. However, he does not make as much money as Radhika which ultimately leads to problems in their relationship (I did not see that coming!).
It all happens in the flashback of One Indian Girl. At present the reader is taken to Goa where Radhika is being married to Brijesh (arranged and lavish destination marriage). After 3 years, Debashish is suddenly regretting his decision of breaking up with Radhika.
If you thought it was over, another guy (Neel) pops into the context. He is two decades older than Radhika and the person who gave Radhika a comfort after her disastrous break up with Debashish (Debu). They both shared an intimate relationship despite of the marital status of Neel.
At the climax of One Indian Girl, we have three guys who want to marry Radhika and one choice of Radhika on which her future will depend.
I did not like the writing
I have seen people quoting that the writing is better than ‘Half Girlfriend’, but I read that a long back and I can’t really recall. At present the writing was okayish. I was skipping lines because I did not want to read the thought process of Radhika after every line. I think Radhika in One Indian Girl should have been developed more so we could feel her sentiments without reading them after every line she spoke.
The characters don’t have shades. It feels that Chetan Bhagat had decided to make the guys villainous even before he named them. I would have loved to see the elaborate transformation especially because Debashish was a decent guy. It is justified in the climax of One Indian Girl, but seems too tiny at large.
Radhika’s mother is too annoying. I understand that Bhagat wanted to focus on how a typical Indian mother is relentless in getting her daughter married, but it was too much.
One Indian Girl is supposed to support Feminism
The basic concept of the book hints in that direction. The difficulties that women, well-earning women face in India have a genuine gesture from Bhagat. However, there are a few things I would like to talk about.
Chetan Bhagat is infamous for including elaborately explained intimate scenes in his books. Continuing with the trademark, One Indian Girl also have sex scenes. I don’t really have a problem with that, but there is a Nicholas Spark’s way of describing it and then there is an EL James way. I simply do not understand the need of making it explicit if that is not the core of your theme. Coming back to the point, I understand that Bhagat wanted to say that women can also have pre-marital sex, but even in the elaborately explained scenes, the whole feminist thing for him seems to be men going down on Radhika. Why didn’t he give Radhika the authority to lead? Wouldn’t it be better in symbolism?
Radhika’s mother is always trying to get her married. I simply cannot digest that a mother can send her daughter to work in a foreign land and be that timid in her mentality. It wasn’t just about the annoyingly repetitive sections of her asking Radhika to get married, but also several other dialogues that compares men and women in a sexist way. One Indian Girl either aims to tell that the discrimination begins from the family and women are equally responsible for it. Was it meant to be that deep or am I imagining things?
Radhika is basically empowering lousy bastards like Neel to sleep outside marriage. Even if I try to think that it is just a rebound thing for Radhika, she is basically contributing to the sick mentality of some men. Speaking of which, I’m astounded that men are generalized to be the same.
Radhika plans an extravagant wedding that costs a crore. Alright, she wanted to make her mother happy, but I’m amused that this was about women empowerment.
One Indian Girl again brings a highly successful girl making a lot of money as the key to explore feminism. I am extremely disappointed that even authors are sticking with successful women, money and sex to address the issue.
The climax of One Indian Girl
Both Neel and Debu are so sorry for their behavior all of a sudden and wants to marry Radhika. Awkward, really awkward and forced.
As if everything was not enough, Chetan Bhagat also pushes in the cancellation of marriage. Apparently even after meeting and talking with Brijesh and him being an actually decent guy, she breaks it off; she is not so sure about it. I believe she was not prepared right from the beginning, but I definitely do not support the last moment decisions. The courtship period is long enough for people to decide whether they want to be with the person in question or not. It shouldn’t go off until there is a major reason behind it, because it literally breaks so many hearts. It’s debatable though if you want to discuss.
However, I want to highlight that One Indian Girl was not a feminist book up until the last few pages where Radhika literally sweeps Neel and Debu out of her life. Even then, her mother does not stop criticizing her. She even slaps her. Her mentality never changes. In fact, nobody else goes through a change of heart.
At the climax of One Indian Girl, I’m actually searching for the reason why the book was actually written?
As a relief One Indian Girl does have a few good things hidden behind the mockery
I loved the section where Radhika confronts both Debu and Neel. She tells Debu that it is easy for anybody to say that they support feminism, but they are not actually different from the mass when it comes to reality; they also want to clip women’s wings hits the right chords.
The whole metaphor of why women can’t choose to fly high as well as create a nest was hard hitting. I even liked the idea of why the working hours even in today’s world are suited for men and not for married women with children.
However, all these things occupy only a few pages in One Indian Girl. It’s like watching a daily soap where people subject women to discrimination for hundreds of episodes. The episode in which she breaks free is the last episode. It does not leave an impact that it should have.
PS: The font was ridiculously small. Rupa Publications should have provided magnifying glasses with the book.
Buy One Indian Girl: