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Review: 2 States by Chetan Bhagat
In country like India, a love affair converted into marriage is no less than a battle won. When the two halves of the couple are from two opposite regions, things are set to get tricky. Chetan Bhagat ’s fourth novel, 2 States, revolves around this theme – way before Chennai Express was in the works!
The story opens when Punjabi-boy Krish Arora, meets Tamil-Brahmin-girl Ananya Swaminathan in the IIMA mess, where they are both studying. Ananya gets into a tiff with the mess worker, and Krish helps both of them to settle it, in return sacrificing his sweet dish, to the Ms. Popular of the college. Quite predictably, both of them fall in love and what follows is their journey of convincing their parents.
Chetan Bhagat is one of my favourite authors. Though there are numerous issues in his books and his style of writing, but we can’t dispute the fact that this man has changed the face of Indian reading. I have read this book 5 times. The New York Times called him the biggest-selling English-language novelist in India’s history . Here in India, the record breaking success of his books and the movies based on them conveys all. As anticipated, 2 States was a bestseller as well. The fact that the book is somewhat inspired from his own life, makes it more believable, and consequently popular among his fans.
The story moves between three cities – Ahmedabad, Delhi and Chennai (with a snapshot in Goa). While we are shown just a glimpse of the first city, the other two are described in full vigour. The writer intelligently captures the cultures of north and south India. While Krish’s mom and aunt will make you remember all your neighbourhood aunties, Ananya’s parents are shown as typical conservative Tamilians. Though the story is told from the point of view of the male protagonist, the writer never takes sides and brings out the best and the worst in both the communities. Needless to mention, the book is filled with humour, like a Tamil-speaking Sardar and verbal fights between Krish’s and Ananya’s mothers. The sarcasm used never fails. In fact, in some instances I was rolling on the floor.
Both protagonists are likeable. While Krish juggles between his job and different cities in his attempt to marry the love of his life Ananya, she is sorting out problems as her marriage is fixed with some other guy by her parents.
In all, this book is the best from this author. He gives you a clear perspective of life in India. Though it is surely not a literary piece, but book is well written. People looking for intellectual stuff may not like it. But all romance-lovers should surely go for it. It is a light read. The book may not be an emotional roller-coaster, but you will be surely left with a smile after you complete this one!
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5 times? Seriously!! I have to agree with you when you say this is the best of CB’s books.
This is one of the best seller book of Chetan Bhagat. I hace read this books two times. It is based on real life story of Chetan Bhagat, Chetan Bhagat’s Books are basically combination of some fiction and real story that attract any reader easily and attach him with its life’s experience.
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Book Review: 2 States by Chetan Bhagat
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2 States: The Story of My Marriage
269 pages, Paperback
First published October 8, 2009
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2 States the story of my marriage by Chetan Bhagat – Book Review
After the first publication by Bhagat, this was the novel that prepared the base for his instant launch in the world of Indian English fiction. Two States is primarily a love story with some extra ingredients that have been attracting readers of young age until now. However, it is not a simple love story that you read every day. Chetan Bhagat’s Two States, the story of my marriage attempts to portray a modern love story set against the backdrop of cultural differences in India. Two people from two distant states of the country with subtle and visible differences in their lifestyle and everything else somehow come together to form a very distinct relationship that leads to an incredible marriage. The novel became very popular among young readers instantly after the launch (aided by a vehement marketing drive by the author). However, despite its popularity, the novel falls short in terms of writing style and overall literary merit. In this review, I will put everything about the book and its content. Let’s begin the review!
The story of the novel in a nutshell:
The story, if you observe carefully, is linear and simple. The novel discusses the story of Krish, a spirited Punjabi lad, and Ananya, a vibrant Tamilian girl, who embark on a tumultuous journey of love amidst the clash of their diverse cultural backgrounds. Though this clash is largely because of their families, their upbringing and social backgrounds also come into play. As they navigate the hurdles of societal expectations and familial resistance, their bond grows stronger, fuelled by their unwavering commitment to bridging the gap between their communities. The story is tilted towards a rather humorous description of events that will amuse many readers. And thus, through vivid anecdotes, humorous encounters, and heartfelt emotions, Bhagat explores the complexities of intercultural relationships. The story has its communication in the simplicity that it offers. However, this simplicity, most of the time, betrays readers who want something extra rather than plain storytelling when they read a novel.
Except for the fact that the novel is a simple read, a mono-layered, straightforward tale of a love marriage that does not fail despite so many hurdles, there is nothing more that adds to its value. Albeit, there are many things in the novel by Bhagat that call for critical scrutiny eliciting the downsides or the negatives that expose the author’s literary prowess. Let me discuss these things in detail. Well, if you are wondering why is the author so popular despite his works having too little value in terms of literary merits, you may be interested in reading this helpful analysis – Why is Chetan Bhagat Popular? (Link opens in a new tab.)
Let’s begin directing this novel with the obvious concern – the writing style itself. Ask anyone who is into reading English fiction at large, they will tell you what makes Two States too shallow. If you believe something as Bhagat’s prose exists, it certainly lacks depth and finesse, often resorting to clichés and simplistic language that fail to engage the reader. And we can discuss the dialogues between characters, for instance, that lack authenticity and sophistication, undermining the emotional depth and complexity that the novel aims to convey. The dialogue often feels contrived and lacks the natural flow of genuine conversations. Otherwise, the novel’s premise is too good to be put at the altar of Chetan Bhagat’s poorly managed narrative in the novel.
Coming to the second point, I will like to discuss the character development in Two States. Let me admit, at the outset, it is underwhelming. The protagonists, Krish and Ananya, come across as one-dimensional and lacking in complexity. The most disappointing part of the character development aspect in the novel is that the motivations and inner struggles of the protagonists are presented in a shallow manner, leaving the reader disconnected from their emotional journey. Bhagat’s attempt to depict the complexities of intercultural relationships falls short due to the superficial portrayal of the characters and their development. It seems, like the author himself, the characters in the novel are in an absurd hurry to reach the last page of the novel. Hurray! Story narrated!
And of course, like any regular Hindi movie made by the Bollywood dynasty, the novel too has a predictable plot and progress. Anyone who reads literary works can easily understand in which direction the storyline is headed. It follows a linear narrative that offers little surprise or originality. The conflicts and resolutions are often conveniently resolved without delving into the deeper complexities of the issues at hand. This lack of depth robs the story of its potential to be thought-provoking or challenging, reducing it to a mere surface-level exploration of cultural differences. And, let me tell you a secret, you can know such things better by reading some real-life stories of people who have crossed the lengths of their states to get married to people from other states in India. You will find these stories in plenty on the internet and some might even be more complex and interesting than the one presented in Two States.
Though it might seem outright futility, if we compare Bhagat with other novelists of the time, we can easily find out that Bhagat’s writing style lacks more than it has. Authors like Jeet Thayil, Kiran Desai, or Jhumpa Lahiri skillfully tackle complex themes, employ nuanced language, and create multidimensional characters that resonate with readers on a profound level. Even Shobha De, at times, promises more than Bhagat despite her limited sources in terms of themes and subject matter at hand. In contrast, Bhagat’s novels lack the depth, nuance, and literary craftsmanship that elevate a book to the status of a significant literary work.
So, to conclude this review of Two States by Chetan Bhagat, let us understand that it fails to deliver a compelling narrative due to its shortcomings in writing style, character development, and plot structure. Though the novel may have enjoyed popularity because of its easy-reading storyline and no-nonsense development of the plot, it sticks to being a one-time hear-say story rather than a full-fledged novel or merit. Chetan Bhagat’s simplistic language, superficial characterisations, and formulaic storytelling prevent the novel from achieving a deeper exploration of its central themes. And therefore, let me admit and conjecture, readers who are seeking more nuanced and sophisticated narratives about intercultural relationships would be better served by exploring the works of other talented Indian authors. And that explains why while Bhagat may have found his place among casual readers of English fiction in India, he could not secure a place for himself in the contemporary discourses on Indian English literature .
Review by Adarsh for Indian Book Critics
Two States the story of my marriage by Chetan Bhagat – Book Review
- Critical Rating
One time read to understand, with an exaggeration, how Bhagat got married to his wife. If you are looking to have some literary pleasure, you won’t find it here. Just a story. Dry story. This happened. That happened. And that happened thereafter. That’s it.
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5 comments . leave new.
Achha likha hai bhai! I also read Chetan Bhagat a few times. He just repeats the same kind of S@#t every time! Nothing new. This was some different bt the same in many ways.
Aptly written and very objective book review of 2 States by Chetan Bhagat… I agree with many points raised here.
Totally agreeable review… I am sometimes shocked to read some ‘critics’ appreciating the novel and finding ‘positives’ only…
Wow! It reads more like an intellectually written literary roast… should not offend the author and yet able to transfer meaningful thoughts to readers… amazing guys! I liked the review of Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States novel.
that’s what I call an amazing book review! chetan bhagat has certainly not contributed to the foundation of Indian English literature in the modern era. however, I do believe the guy has democratised the process of literature in India. 2 states the story of my marriage has resonated well with casual fiction readers.
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Book Review: 2 States
While scanning my bookshelf, a reddish colored ‘2 States’ by Chetan Bhagat caught my attention. I had previously read, ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘Half Girlfriend’ by Chetan Bhagat, a prominent sensation of Indian Literature. Chetan writes focusing on youth and their psychology. He is known as the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history. ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘Half Girlfriend’ impressed and heated me to go through his ‘ 2 States’.
Thanks to writers like Chetan Bhagat who exposes the reality of the Indian community through his books. A love story between a Punjabi boy and Tamilian Brahmin girl: Chetan Bhagat’s “2 states” is an entertaining read. In Asian countries like Nepal and India, a love affair converted into marriage is no less than winning a war because it becomes harder for lovers if they are from different communities or different states.
The story opens when Krish: a Punjabi boy finds Ananya: a Tamil-Brahmin-girl, complaining about food with the cooking staff of their institute IIMA where they are for pursuing an MBA degree. Krish succeeds in keeping Ananya calm after offering her a sweet dish of his part. They manage to have friends in a very short time, followed by a love affair, and what follows is their journey of convincing their parents.
The story moves between four cities-Ahmedabad, Delhi, Goa, and Chennai. The book reflects the language, culture, and lifestyle of North Indian and South Indian. After graduation, Krish starts working on the Citi Bank of Chennai, where Ananya’s family lives. Their plan to convert love affair into marriage is not going to be that easy as they hail from different communities and different states. Krish’s plan to impress Ananya’s family by offering Ananya’s brother a hand in the preparation of the IIT class exam doesn’t go his way wholly.
Krish, after spending six months somehow manages to convince Ananya’s parents, but for the marriage, it requires a big ‘YES’ from Krish’s mother, a strict North Indian woman. Both Krish and Ananya face the struggle to convince their future in-laws. The disaster occurs when their parents meet at Goa and started arguing with each other about their culture but a story ended in a happy note. After all, it was their children’s happiness and marriage was performed in Tamilian culture.
The fact that the book somehow matches the marriage story of the author makes it more convincing, interesting, and popular among his followers.
Though there are numerous issues in Chetan’s books and his style of writing, his art of storytelling is extremely sarcastic, and readers never feel bore. Though people looking for intellectual stuff may not like it. But, all romance lovers and reality-seekers should surely go for it.
- Chetan Bhagat
- Published: 2009
- Publisher: Rupa Publications
- Language: English
Review by: Sugam Gautam (Reviewer can be contacted at [email protected] )
- Website by Sanil.com.np
- Religion & Spirituality
- Religious Studies
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2 States - The Story of My Marriage (English Paperback – 1 January 2014
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- ISBN-10 8129135523
- ISBN-13 978-8129135520
- Edition 2nd
- Publisher Rupa Publications India
- Publication date 1 January 2014
- Language English
- Dimensions 12.95 x 1.78 x 19.69 cm
- Print length 269 pages
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- Publisher : Rupa Publications India; 2nd edition (1 January 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 269 pages
- ISBN-10 : 8129135523
- ISBN-13 : 978-8129135520
- Item Weight : 308 g
- Dimensions : 12.95 x 1.78 x 19.69 cm
- Net Quantity : 1.00 count
- #5 in Ethnic Religion
- #23 in History of Religion (Books)
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About the author
Chetan Bhagat is the author of nine blockbuster books. These include seven novels—Five Point Someone (2004), One Night @ the Call Center (2005), The 3 Mistakes of My Life (2008), 2 States (2009), Revolution 2020 (2011), Half Girlfriend (2014) and One Indian Girl (2016) and two non-fiction titles— What Young India Wants (2012) and Making India Awesome(2015). His upcoming book 400 Days is now available to preorder and will release on 17th September 2021. Chetan’s books have remained bestsellers since their release. Four out his five novels have been already adapted into successful Bollywood films and the others are in process of being adapted as well. The New York Times called him the ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history’. Time magazine named him amongst the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ and Fast Company, USA, listed him as one of the world’s ‘100 most creative people in business’. Chetan writes columns for leading English and Hindi newspapers, focusing on youth and national development issues. He is also a motivational speaker and screenplay writer. Chetan quit his international investment banking career in 2009 to devote his entire time to writing and make change happen in the country. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Anusha, an ex-classmate from IIM-A, and his twin boys, Shyam and Ishaan. You can email him at [email protected] or fill in the Guestbook with your feedback. You can also follow him on twitter (@chetan_bhagat) or like his Facebook fanpage (https://www.facebook.com/chetanbhagat.fanpage).
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2 States (2009) by Chetan Bhagat – Book Review
When I used to discuss literature with my university classmates, the name Chetan Bhagat and his novel 2 States always seemed to pop up during our frequent conversations. I’ve been aware of Bhagat ever since the movie 3 Idiots was released in 2009—as its script is based on Bhagat’s 2004 venture Five Point Someone—and following the international success of that movie, it came as no surprise that his other books were also cinematically adapted later on by Bollywood.
Whoever is reading this review should first be made aware that I’ve read another Indian scribe who wrote in the English language, R.K. Narayan, so Bhagat is definitely not the first non-native author of English that I’ve come across.
2 States, as the name implies, follows Krish and Ananya who are from distinct regions of India but end up becoming a couple during their MBA years. Krish is a Punjabi from Delhi and Ananya is a Tamilian from Chennai. Now, the plot does feel clichéd at the initial reading, and the book was more than generic in its opening chapters, but it later on becomes so witty that you forget the romantic angle and are forced to focus on the humor instead.
The funniest bits are when the couple have to convince their in-laws to approve of their intended marriage. What’s the issue? Their parents are as traditionalist as any Asian family could be. Krish’s parents want the boy to marry a Punjabi girl. And Ananya’s parents want the girl to marry a Tamilian guy. The destination that the story is slowly but surely leading you to is extremely foreseeable from the get-go—the book’s tagline is The Story of My Marriage, after all—but the journey is far from tedious.
This is not only the foremost Bhagat novel that I’ve read, but also the first one I’ve gone through that belongs to the romantic genre. The writing style is so suited to the YA genre that I wasn’t surprised that most of Bhagat’s readers are teenagers and adolescents. Many sections of the book brought back memories of my own high-school years, not because of the content, but due to the way the plot was followed through. I used to cherish reading young-adult authors such as R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike back in the day, and thus, nostalgia was inevitable. By the time I completed 2 States, I felt ten years younger, and I guess people who used to read a lot of YA fiction, and then progressed to adult-orientated tales, will most probably end up sharing my feelings.
Bhagat’s flair for social commentary through minimalistic wording constantly reminded me of Narayan. One factor where Bhagat failed at but Narayan always seems to succeed at is going into the depth of the multitude of primary characters that were depicted in the novel. I reckon that if Bhagat had written this in the third person instead of the first person perspective, though that would’ve been unlikely owing to the semi-biographical nature of the storyline, then 2 States would’ve been a must-read.
In the initial half of the novel, we see a more than needed percentage of Krish’s outlook on South Indian customs and traditions. But when it comes to the love of his life, Ananya, we only get to read about a handful of her opinions on the North Indians—specifically through the heroine’s interactions with her potential mother-in-law. Of course, both our main characters had many conversations with members of their own family and the other’s relatives, but there was a chance for advanced character development which was never taken upon by the wordsmith.
Narayan has always been an expert in societal storytelling. One example is his novel which I have always deemed as his magnum opus, Mr. Sampath: The Printer of Malgudi. There were about four to five major individuals, and a ton of secondary figures, but they were handled so well that I was surprised that Mr. Sampath wasn’t originally penned as a play. Bhagat failed to utilize the literary entourage he had outlined. And the primary reason for this, in my opinion, was his choice of writing the book in the first-person point of view. Again, that perspective almost always suits any written work that is intended to be semi-biographical.
Nonetheless, Bhagat has impressed me in the vein of Narayan by showcasing that the pen will always be mightier than the sword when you have to win over people’s mindsets. Just like Krish and Ananya tried their utmost to convince their respective families to honor their dreams of a peaceful wedding, Bhagat has shown me through his hard work how complicated Indian marriages really are.
He never showcased that love marriages are more difficult than arranged marriages or vice versa. He remained diplomatic in his prose whereas any other author might’ve given a hint to which state of India he favors more. The paperback version that I’ve read is close to 300 pages but I felt that it was only novella-length long owing to how well-paced it was.
In conclusion, Chetan Bhagat is a master of satire, and he joins R.K. Narayan and Mohammed Hanif in my list of favorite non-native authors in the English language. Not only is this Bhagat’s fourth novel but the quality of the book’s penmanship also complements that fact. Inequality seems to exist, more or less, in every part of the world; but it’s through literary works such as these that show us that love truly does conquer all in the end.
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Book Review: ‘2 States — The Story of my Marriage’
January 24, 2013 August 14, 2020 2 min read By Priya Mukhopadhyay
I always love stocking up on South Asian literature when I take trips to India and my relatives living there have picked up on this. Naturally, I was very pleased when my cousin gifted me “ 2 States ” as a going-away present. I was even more pleased because both my cousin and his wife had already read the book and could not stop raving about it. I was very excited to explore this novel, especially, since it allowed me to get a glimpse of what kind of stories my cousins in India enjoy and can relate to.
Chetan Bhagat is on the rise among the younger generation in India and has written five best-selling novels so far. He has also earned the title of “the biggest-selling English-language novelist in India’s history” by the New York Times. Two of his novels have even inspired Bollywood movies, “3 Idiots” being one of them. After reading “2 States,” I can vouch for all the hype that surrounds Bhagat.
The novel focuses on the love story of a Tamil girl, Ananya and a Punjabi boy, Krish, who were on a mission to get married. It follows the storyline of any typical Bollywood movie, I wish I could say there were dramatic deviations from this fact, but there wasn’t. However, the book was still a great read.
Prior to the couple’s decision to get married, Bhagat offers the readers an in-depth look into the premarital relationship of the two, which caught me by surprise. Trust me, when I say that very few Bollywood movies would include the details Bhagat did when it comes to Ananya and Krish’s relationship. He executed this in a very tasteful and natural way without abusing the topic of premarital sexuality as South Asian media so often tends to do. The story flowed well and there was a good balance between their life before wanting to get married and their mission to make the seven rounds of the fire.
Bhagat did a fantastic job of introducing the readers to both character’s families and in instances where both parties were present, the juxtaposition exuded tension and discomfort that definitely resonated with the readers. This novel was very much about family and how important it is to get the families approval before embarking on something with a significant other. After reading this book, it is clear why couples in India enjoy it so much. It also shows where the younger generation stands in terms of relationships and love marriage.
Overall, this was an entertaining and light read. If you enjoy Bollywood stories with a slightly more realistic feel, you will most probably enjoy this story.
Priya is a Indian born, New York City bred, aspiring physician and social media personality. She has her BS in … Read more ›
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