Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat

Half Girlfriend, an intriguing title, from an equally popular and controversial author, Chetan Bhagat. Needless to say, the moment I saw this book was available for free on Kindle Unlimited, I made an impulsive decision to read yet another novel by Chetan.

My past experience with him has been a mixed bag, enjoyed Five Point Someone and 2 States immensely. And yet, was disappointed with Revolution 2020 and Three Mistakes of My Life.

half-girlfriend-chetan-bhagat However, as I downloaded the book, I had a sense of deja vu. While reading Bhagat’s previous books, I had noticed a pattern. He often tries to include a numeral in the title. Be it his debut One Night at Call Centre, or the ones that I mentioned above, all the titles do have a numeral. And, he has indeed continued this tradition by strategically adding the word Half in the current book. Awesome! As far as the title goes and the curiosity it generated, I was smitten.

And, as I opened the book and read Prologue, here again I found Chetan has included himself in the narrative, as Bhagat the bestselling novelist himself, who is on a book tour in Bihar, and is unwittingly approached by a tall young man, with an unusual request.

The man in question is Madhav Jha, no less than a Prince of Dumraon! However there is nothing royal about the request he makes to Chetan. Apparently, he wishes to off load some old journals of his ex girlfriend, mind you the half ex girlfriend, as Madhav himself couldn’t afford to look at the memories left by his deceased friend Riya.

Quite a handful! By this time, I was hooked. Chetan’s strategy to place himself as a listener, and the protagonist as a storyteller, works quite well.

The winning streak continued for the first ten percent of the book. There are 260 pages in toto, so for first 30 pages, I quite enjoyed the story. A village boy from Bihar, entering Stephen’s, the elite college in sports quota. His initial awkwardness, his dwindling self confidence and the love at first sight, he feels for the tall and pretty Riya Somani, were typical Hindi movie stuff, and I did enjoy the scenes, as if I am watching a Bollywood Masala Movie.

However, then for some unknown reasons, the story changed tracks, or should I say, returned to the boring track Chetan often creates, where his male protagonist becomes so hungry for physical gratification, that nothing but a kiss and a hurried sex act can save him! Neither I nor could Riya stand the bizarre twist in Madhav Jha’s personality. And by the time, part I in Delhi ended, I was feeling itchy to abandon the book.

However I am nothing if not a stubborn reader and thus continued to Part II in Bihar. Here, again Chetan changed tracks, and lots of social services and welfare activities were indulged in. So much so that Bill Gates himself landed from.America to give a grant to Madhav’s dilapidated Royal Dumraon School!

Though, before that could happen our worthy Hero had to learn proper English, to ask for charity from the American in a dignified way. And who else to rescue Madhav in this noble endeavor than, yes you guessed it, the forgotten Half Girlfriend. Phewwww.

To tell you the truth, by this time, I had simply got bored of this over the top, wannabe success story and when the third part concluded in New York, I was well aware of the climax.

And yes, the title doesn’t have much significance here, unless one places sex as top priority in a short term affair.

Still, the book can’t be written off as a bad one. I would rather categorise Half Girlfriend as young adult fiction, where the story begins in teens and ends before protagonists turn 25! And considering the immaturity and impulsiveness of youth, the story is justified to some extent, barring of course, the rocket climb of Madhav from a shy class conscious person to the one serving in UN, all by dint of sheer luck. The book is fictional or rather fantastical in its approach towards ground realities and social prejudices.

A one time read, is the final verdict, that too when you get the book at a discounted price, or like me get to read it for almost free!

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