Friday, May 24, 2013

Five Point Someone

Chetan Bhagat

Cover of latest edition

My choice of book for this review will certainly raise a few eyebrows; and those raised eyebrows being just a 'few' is only reflective of the emerging trend in the readers' fraternity where unconventional writing is getting wide acclaim. Chetan Bhagat - the quintessentially smart IITian that he is - has recognized this inclination of the readers and has gone on to write not one, not two - but four books(add to that several newspaper columns and a collection of essays), all of which have been catchy, engrossing, unconventional, not unnecessarily descriptive, and unrepetitive in terms of the ideas. For the purpose of this blog, let's pick one of his books -  'Five Point Someone' - and analyze what has been so good about this(as also the rest of his books).

Movie based on the book
Who doesn't want to know about the life in IIT? Be it a starry-eyed IIT aspirant who is going through the drills of preparing for JEE or an ambitious parent who wants to see his child secure a seat there, or an awestruck sixth-grader who has just heard the three-letter-abbreviation for the first time and has immediately started comparing it to Hogwarts - IIT is such a magical place for everyone who has not been here(barring a few, it remains as magical for most even once they are here). The first thing a father would point out to his son, while reading an interview of Mr. Nandan Nilekani in the morning newspaper would most certainly be, "Look, he's an IITian!" Hence, voluntarily or otherwise, part of it or not - IIT has become deeply entrenched in the typical Indian's life. And it evoking curiosity about what happens within its hallowed gates is the obvious and concomitant next step. While, whether anyone wrote about it before CB did or whether IITians are too nerdy/shy to write or whether there's enough interesting stuff going on in the IITs to write about, and several similar questions can be pondered over, the fact of the matter is that Chetan Bhagat's description of the life in IIT was the first and the only thus far to have been adequately noticed, and rightly so. He has kept from being overawed by the eloquent writing styles of the past and contemporary greats in the field of Literature and trying to step into their big boots, and has preferred to be very original, very natural and yet damn interesting.

Coming to the plot, it's fairly simple - and perhaps that's what its USP is. The story begins with the protagonist, Hari - the average-looking, nerdy bumbler - entering IIT and immediately getting a taste of the-then-rightly-hyped menace of ragging. It's while bending in those awkward postures on the seniors' demands that he gets to meet his two dearest friends doing the same - Alok and Ryan, both in the same branch as his. Alok was the typical whining topper-in-school, who'd sob all day long if he stood second in class by a mark. He was from a family of meagre means and viewed his mechanical engineering degree as nothing but a source to pay for his elder sister's dowry and ailing father’s medicine. Ryan, on the other hand, was the uber-cool, smart kid who'd do whatever he wanted to and wouldn’t buckle under any pressure. He belonged to a well-off family and his parents were stationed abroad.

While endless assignments, frequent quizzes and relentless ragging were stitching a web around him which would make him lead the typical life of drudgery for the next four years, Hari suddenly bumps into(into her car, literally) Neha - yes, a girl(in IIT!) - and his life takes off from there like a rocket. Just to spice things up a bit though, she happens to be the (needless to mention, ten thousand times as beautiful) daughter of Prof. Cherian(his second name), the head of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Nevertheless, Cupid begins to be kind to Hari, and he quickly improvises from going on his first date to his first kiss and to more! His lifeless life seems to have got  a sudden shot of vigour as he audaciously takes the professor's gorgeous daughter out for movies, gets her drunk on desolate terraces and breaks into her house and gifts her a self-made bouquet right in her bed for her birthday - all this, right under the professor's nose.

But as they say, greed for too much is always bad; and our protagonist learns the same the hard way. Having dated the prof’s daughter for three years, he thought that the time was ripe to get personally introduced by Neha to him. But his crappy grades meant a bad impression at first sight - something which Hari thought he just couldn't afford. Coinicidentally, Prof. Cherian got to take a course of his in his final year, and scoring a perfect ten in it would seal the deal he thought. He went all right about his ambition for quite a while by working his ass off to do well in it. However when his Majors(final exams) approached, he began to feel the heat and his mind overflew with the 'what-ifs'. After serious deliberations  on what to do with his two close confidant├ęs, he decided that the only certain way to fetch him a perfect ten was to lay his hands on the Majors paper, before he was to see it officially. They decided on a date when they would break into Prof. Cherian's office, steal the paper and chalked out the exact plan of action to be followed. Neha was not to be made privy to the plan.

Do i need to say ??
On what was supposed to be the most adventurous day of the lives of all three of them, Hari, as per plan, went to meet Neha at her home with the foreknowledge that her parents wouldn't be around and the keys to Prof. Cherian's office would hence be easier to get. However it was the same Cupid this time, who had lit his life up not so long back, strangely playing spoilsport! While he was there to procure the keys - just the keys, a lot more than what he had ever imagined, transpired between him and Neha. They made out and brought their love to fruition. But ironically, it was not to be for too long. Things started going awry for Hari right then. Want to know whether they pull off the theft of the exam paper eventually? Did the prof find out? Did Hari get to meet his prospective father-in-law as an achiever? Hold your breath and go read the book! It'll surely be a thrill-a-minute-read. Plus it's not too long(270 odd pages) and easily affordable(95 bucks; on another day you may have a burger worth as much. Just that you'll find the book more delectable.) - another reach-out-to-the-common-Indian strategy of Chetan Bhagat, you see!

If you've been used to reading high brow literature with flowery words and never-ending sentences, this book would certainly be a refreshing change for you

-- Contributed by Tanmay Srivastava