Sunday, October 5

Chetan Bhagat's Half Girlfriend is Full Nonsense!

Book: Half Girlfriend
Author: Chetan Bhagat, best selling Indian author
Language: English




spoilers ahead…

I had to read it. , as the people who read books only while travelling in trains believe, is one of the best Indian writers. And it had been too long. 2 States was the last book I read of a Best-selling Indian Author.

So, I sat with a highlighter and opened the first page of the brand new Chetan Bhagat book, Half Girlfriend which had a few seconds teaser when the book was announced. A really really stupid teaser. Link for the lazy.

Premise and Plot


The book starts with Bhagat being stalked by a guy in his hotel in Patna. Bhagat tries to shrug him off but he’s very persistent and he carries a torn notebook with him. He wants Bhagat to read it, because he thinks a busy writer like Bhagat has nothing else on his schedule. After a while, when he’s not able to convince Bhagat to read the notes, he plays the death card and tells him these are his girlfriend’s notes who died some time ago. This troubles Bhagat greatly as he states, ‘you can’t pick up a chocolate when someone has just mentioned a death’. I know if it’s not someone close, death is merely a statistic. But surely, Bhagat can say it in a way so as to not appear as an unsympathetic idiot.

chetan bhagat latest book review


This death trap works for a few minutes but then Bhagat starts thinking about ordering some food. Amidst some really poorly written dialogue, we come across the basis of the story, the Bihari English and the English. The St. Stephen’s and Stevens! This guy, the main protagonist, Madhav then tells Bhagat that he and his deceased friend used to read his novels to learn English. Think about it for a while. Let the beauty of this new information sink in. Then our stalker friend leaves his notes forcefully on the desk of India’s beloved author and runs away. You leave your dead friend’s only notes with a guy you’ve never met. Good job. Bhagat, out of curiosity and the fact that this novel wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t read it, reads the notes.

Thus our story begins, now narrated by Madhav, the stalker, himself. We find him in St. Stephen’s where he is bitten by inferiority complex and as chilches go, some cool dude with long hair, makes fun of his accent right there. Cliches run deep in Half Girlfriend. The guy with a money is a drunkard and he assaults his wife, the mother-in-law who’s well to do in foreign wouldn’t treat an Indian girl properly, the rich girl doesn’t want money but independence and wants to become an artist and not a famous one at that, the MLA in the gaon is looking for favours from everyone otherwise he wouldn’t work, our guy Madhav is poor in money so he is humble and thoughtful and cares for his country.  

Anyway, so Madhav has to give a sports test to be selected under sports quota, and there on the basketball field he finds Riya, our heroin. This is how Madhav (Bhagat) describes Riya, ‘her long neck, long arms and long legs held everyone’s attention.’  I get it, Madhav is really obsessed with long things to make up for something maybe, but you can put it in a better way, can’t you? While describing the girl, we see that the girl is wearing branded clothes, diamond ring and what not. Bhagat uses these shortcuts throughout. She has good clothes and a BMW, so she's rich. He thinks about humanity and country and things like that, so he's poor. There’s no visual, there’s nothing. Just when you think you were done with long things, Madhav also notices her long fingers. Then by some weird cosmological force at play, they both get to talk about basketball.

With his ramblings, boring boring ramblings, we get to know Madhav a little better. And suffice it to say, he’s just an idiot. There’s nothing else to him really. He says stupid things throughout the course of this story, right from the beginning where he tries to analyse what ‘bye, catch you’ means. Then he goes on and makes social commentary on everything. All his theories essentially end in, ‘they are rich people so they are weird!’

And I also don’t get Bhagat’s hatred for Bihar, I mean, since the very start, Bihar is established as this backward place where nothing innovative ever happened. The protagonist seems to hate Bihar but just so he seems like a smart and rationale guy Bhagat gives him enough sentences praising Bihar and the countryside and how life is better and how people are good there.

They both get admission in the college and then they meet on the first day itself and thus begins their friendship. Trust me, in real life that never happens. I met this really cool girl on the day of my college interview and we talked, but we never bumped into each other in college. Never in three years.

We move some months ahead, and Madhav is clearly friendzoned but he’s happy with it. Also, Madhav has gotten really comfortable with attributing every complexity in Riya’s character to her being rich, ‘maybe rich people were like that’ he says.

We find out from reading Madhav’s own account that Riya is an introvert and doesn’t open up easily. But Madhav himself doesn’t realize this as he keeps forcing Riya to spill her secrets out. Whatever happened to let people be? He also provides a brilliant analogy to show his frustration, ‘getting you to talk is like a dentist pulling teeth.’ Yep. And you know, when Riya finally lets go off the wall and starts talking,  Madhav does this, ‘She continued to talk and I continued to listen, even though my entire attention was on how lovely her hand felt in mine.' Seriously? A whole chapter about how she doesn’t talk and when she does, you do this?

In the next chapter, we finally see another shade in Madhav’s character, he’s a hormone crazy sex-starved male who by the way doesn’t represent the whole male population as Madhav (Bhagat) puts at least thrice throughout the book. Madhav, our friend, is obsessed with kissing, and he thinks of it as a seal, the only way someone can confirm you mean something is by letting you kiss them on the lips. Yes. Let’s go a few centuries backward now?

Moving on, nothing happens for a few chapters and then nothing continues to happen. A new character is introduced and you instantly know he’s the devil. He’s liked by the girl’s dad, he’s rich, self made and all those things. But his first dialogue where he explains why he was late is this, ‘The parlour took so bloody long to finish my facial. ' Some of my friends are really loaded with both money and looks, but they have never ever said anything remotely close to this. EVER. Moving on, Rohan is everything Madhav is not. Smart, charming, likeable, whatever. When Rohan holds a girl’s hand and she giggles, this is the conclusion our Madhav arrives at, ‘What is so funny about a rich guy holding your hand?’

Somewhere in there we are also introduced to Madhav’s college friends, they are also cliched to the core, the fat guy gives romantic advises, the nerd talks to the point, et cetera. They all come to a conclusion that if a girl likes you, she must let you sleep with her. YEP. Let’s go back some more centuries now. Madhav takes the advice of his friends and tries to bed Riya, and says the most cringe-worthy thing ever written on paper, ‘deti hai toh de, warna kat le!’ Yes, he says that to the girl he loves and worships and what-not. And whatever sympathy you had for the poor Madhav till this point goes into the drain. They break up and we move forward six months. Madhav justifies his actions to himself by saying any male would do that, and I start questioning my male-ness. When Riya finally, tired of being stalked, talks to Madhav, all he thinks about kissing her. And again he justifies with the same reasoning. All males. Oh fuck you!

Things go bad, and they both move out of Delhi for different reasons to different places. Madhav is now in his hometown working in the school with his mother, and Riya is in London.

In the mother of all coincidences scene, Madhav comes across Riya in a small cafe in Patna and the way Bhagat describes it, you realise if there was a one minute difference, they wouldn’t have met. Crazy stupid coincidence. After this, I stopped taking the book seriously. You just can’t write whatever you think would catch your readers fancy. ‘Oh let’s throw in a giant turd of coincidence and tell people this is true love and it always finds its way, and if it’s meant to be, it will be.’ I have never run into the hot girl who lives in the floor below and you want me to believe two people both living thousand miles away would run into each other in a third city in a busy cafe? BULLSHIT.

A lot of things happen in the background but they are presented in such a half baked manner that you just can’t care. Bhagat even manages to make Bill Gates episode in the book boring. Now, that stuff takes serious skills.

Madhav’s obsession to kiss runs consistent throughout Half Girlfriend and after a point you wish this book was a hardcover so you could hit Madhav with it.
Nothing really happens in the first 150 pages and then I decided to stop highlighting and just skim through the book. Events happen here and there, presented in a way so you sleep faster.

Half Girlfriend’s saving grace is, Madhav is not the only stupid character. Riya through the course of the book, keeps doing stupid things but is overshadowed by ‘deti hai toh de, warna kat le!’ But after a certain point, the stupidity horse of Riya starts winning over the stupidity horse of  Madhav.

And then the novel concludes with the most over-used climax premise. Guy looks for the girl for months and then because of another giant turd of coincidence,  he finds her. He now has limited time on hand to reach her, if he doesn’t the girl would go away, and then as luck (cliche) would have it, all the transportation options cease to work and you have no other option but to run. But but but, as Gods Of Boring Novels would have it, you reach the place right on the last minute and happy ending. Yay? Yes, as boring as that.

MY thoughts:


Throughout Half Girlfriend, Bhagat mesmerizes you with careful written description of things. Here’s a gem, ‘the club sandwich, which had a tomato, cheese and lettuce filling.’ Yeah. Okay. Good. Thank you for telling me. Also, they are downright hilarious. See, ‘my voice firmer with food inside me’ or ‘I got into a yellow taxi.’



This novel doesn’t even have those cute awwww moments, you know? All the scenes are so overdone in books and cinemas of the past that you feel they are plagiarized, like girlfriend is reading but the sun is on her, so you block the sun, girlfriend removes a rice grain from your face so you put more grains on it. It’s all cringe-worthy. The middle section of the book seems like it’s lifted from Swadesh.

The dialogues, The dialogues are so unengaging. Every dialogue is followed by the meaning of it. I mean if someone is concerned, happy, sad, anything, you should be able to make it out with his dialogue. Bhagat is so unconfident in his dialogues that most of them are followed by what the dialogue  meant, he throws it on your face, look he is concerned now, look he is hurt now.

Also, I think Bhagat self assumes that he is the voice of this generation and he raises all sorts of issues through this book. Hangover of What Young India Wants, I think. In one instance, Madhav (Bhagat) says why no one speaks in Hindi and you’d wonder if Madhav would change that, but he says it and then he starts learning English. These issues, go nowhere, nothing is further mentioned. I think if you raise 200 issues in 200 pages, you raise none and that’s what happens here.


And why this title? Why? When you read this title you think it’s about friends with benefits or something like that, but this title has nothing to do with the story being told. Just because Riya says this once, we get this title? This title is like the click-bait headlines we see online, a marketing gimmick, so you get curious. It’s just weird that a book of 250 pages doesn’t even talk about this concept of half-girlfriend in details. Not even a proper meaningful para.



In the end, this book is lazily written with a single objective that it is picked by some movie producer. It feels like a screenplay, nothing else. As a book, it is so poor and devoid of content, filled with the most generic of description. The detailing that the book uses are so stupid, like when Madhav is on the station, he tells us he ate puri-aloo. Yeah, so what? Is it a essential thing to say?  There are no book-like things, we are just given briefs, about the location, I’m on a railway station, okay, the characters, he’s a snob, okay. There’s nothing about how the station looks, what is going on there, what is the narrator thinking while he’s on the station, or why a character is a snob, what’s his motivation in life. There’s no depth to the proceedings, no dialogues make you pause and wonder, nothing in the characters to make you cheer for them, just plain boring stuff, a simple plot to sit a movie on.

If you want to enjoy Half Girlfriend even a bit then I suggest you skim through it, don’t pause and think what happened, try to read it in two hours then you might enjoy it.


My Ratings: 1/5

Here's my affiliate link if you want to purchase this book-Flipkart

Read my other reviews:
Amish's 'Scion of Ikshvaku' is both entertaining and bland at the same time. Here

THE END



To get all the updates, like us on Facebook. 'hTe osLt'

And please tell me how did you like this post? I am on Facebook!

53 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. V V-Bahut be-insaafi bartayee Durmit Kanna se aapne..Ek mahan gadhe ko Bhakt kah diya.Pl. do justice to him else shall think about half bhagat, half man ,two & half ghadda-sorry i myself becoming half brainy!god bless u.

      Delete
    2. V V-Bahut be-insaafi bartayee Durmit Kanna se aapne..Ek mahan gadhe ko Bhakt kah diya.Pl. do justice to him else shall think about half bhagat, half man ,two & half ghadda-sorry i myself becoming half brainy!god bless u.

      Delete
    3. Vineet D-what u mean by aaya bhakt? this should have been "aaya half gadhaa etc" if u
      treat them w such..i am afraid i may r shall say we all may turn into half indian(s)!adios.

      Delete
    4. Mourning--for kind info for friends & foes! Funeral is fixed on friday at half moon to pay respects to the departed half girlfriend who once was source of resurrection for the half of intelligentia of..pl come on time with black ribbon on upper half portion of ur body!

      Delete
  2. Half Girlfriend, OR- How To Coerce Your Friend Into Having Sex With You Without Being Convicted As A Molester

    ReplyDelete
  3. Spot on!! more entertaining than the book lol!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vineet D--U should have shown some sympathy to Rose instead u only thanked her! matter of the fact is Rose had to exhaust her/his atleast half brain reading half girl friend through half the day/night.am sorry urs half friend!

      Delete
  4. Hey Vineet.
    Firstly, I would like to appreciate the way you make fun of a book. I mean, these are your point of view about the book. Your assumptions, your perception. I ain't saying that it is wrong that you publish your views..but you know, in a proper language. You probably seemed as if you make fun of the book.
    Hey look I just looked the book. Maybe it was corresponding to my situation or something. But at least think once before you comment on someone else's piece of achievement.
    Please. Don't get me in a wrong way but, it's a request.. don't spoil or ruin the love for books in other people's mind. I'm not alone. They're many who love this book.
    I'm sorry if I seemed rude anyhow.
    But you gotta understand one thing.
    Two people can never read the same book.
    Thanking you, Akhila.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey, thanks for sharing your views on this. I appreciate it. you said, there are many who love this book, I agree. but there are also a lot of people who didn't like it. I am one of them, and I have the right to say this. i think in my argument i've raised quite some valid points about the book and why i didn't like it. and i've also given a warning about the spoilers that my book review might contain, so i don't see how i'm ruining anyone's experience.

      anyway, thanks for dropping by.

      see you around. :)

      Delete
  5. Betaa if u really think dat u have got some more talent dan him when it comes to writting Books dan y dont u give a try to write some Books...dont be arvind kejriwal of authors community and stop barking on ppl rather do something useful to attract attention..!!!!! my sincere Wishes to You if u ever think to be a writer.. c u around..;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. achha ji! so I can review a book only if I've written one? good luck for those movie reviewers if they held up to your rule!
      anyway, I'm thinking about becoming an author, so thank you!

      Delete
    2. I strongly disagree with your views Mr deepak. If we follow your logic then at present the is no commentator on Earth who can do commentary while Virat Kohli is playing, we should ask all the commentators to first go and play like Kohli. There is a difference between criticizing and ridiculing someone's work. He has not ridiculed Chetan's book, he has criticized it by giving valid arguments. Similarly, you too have the right to criticize (not ridicule) Vineet's review. This is how creativity is born and nurtured.

      Delete
    3. I strongly disagree with your views Mr deepak. If we follow your logic then at present the is no commentator on Earth who can do commentary while Virat Kohli is playing, we should ask all the commentators to first go and play like Kohli. There is a difference between criticizing and ridiculing someone's work. He has not ridiculed Chetan's book, he has criticized it by giving valid arguments. Similarly, you too have the right to criticize (not ridicule) Vineet's review. This is how creativity is born and nurtured.

      Delete
    4. oh yea ! is it that your surname guy is in the book making you condemned over the reviewer

      Delete
  6. Would be great to have a postal address. Want to send a book for review. Do send it @ vibhort@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I actually completed reading the book in some 4 hours because I wanted to be done with it.
    I can totally relate, most of these are the exact same thoughts I had when I read the book...
    Whatever's the case with actually storytelling now-a-days. *facepalm*
    Your review was hilariously well written. Thoroughly enjoyed it ! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's what no. it seems like written in the same manner, just to be done with it.
      and thank you! see you around?! :D

      Delete
    2. Vineet D-am little cofused-pl.tell me the book half girlfriend is meant for half nuts, half-ly frustrated in love n life or others! one should read it half way, midway or full--ur advice/opinion will b source of inspiration to come to form atleast half right opinion instead of wrong one! urs thankfully.

      Delete
  8. i just finished reading this book and was wondering if someone would have the same low opinion of the book as mine or am i mistaken anywhere. Glad to find your work, its hilarious as well as apt. Being a college fresher 20 years ago, i was able to relate to the first half, there is always that question in your mind, "does it mean anything" "she talked to me, WOW !!" but then gradually the book lost it sense. Firstly, sociology as a subject is very language intensive, its not possible that come out of the college with a degree and have no english language knowledge. When i read that she teaches him to speak english i was assuming that it was during the college not years after graduation. Another thing is the concept of serendipity that is so overrated and abused in this book. also as you pointed out, why would someone follow the author and hand him the diary ..he would rather read it himself. The biggest flaw towards the latter half is when the story starts moving so fast as if there is a 3 hour movie script reaching its climax and has to end now !!

    Her diary entries are so dramatic, no one writes dialogues in the journal, they write what they were feeling and what they wanted to say but could not !!

    No reaction to the contents of the diary? no reaction to his ma's dialog, her child abuse, her physical abuse, no sympathy, just "that bitch"? is that the way today's youth think, that the author says he writes for ?

    On the whole its a very disappointing finish to a very good setting. The super obsession of the author with the "rich" and "high class" is boring towards the end.

    and frankly, the fact that they end up having sex the moment he meets her is so absolutely tasteless. Firstly, it just proves his point that he started with, if its not physical its not serious. Secondly, it makes the novel appear like a movie script.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey! you and me think the exact same. good to know this. i agree, the whole sex thing in the end left a really bad taste in my mouth. see you around!

      Delete
  9. Standing ovation to you Vineet for having such guts to criticize publicly and also having hilarious way of communicating your thoughts. Well Written! I seriously enjoyed your expressions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha, that's sweet. thank you. keep reading!

      Delete
  10. Hi vineet,
    So u were saying it is hard to believe that two people both living thousand miles away would run into each other in a third world city in a busy café so is BULLSHIT ?? Then how do u want it is to be? Both stayed in different continent thereafter and happily died or wat ? hei.., that may b the reality I agree.. but wats the point in writing that..? anybody can guess that kind of ending. no ? probability of that mother of coincidence is very very rare.. may be 1/10000000. Now tell me , As an aspiring author, wud u consider writing about that .00000001 chance or 99999999 “ boring boring” reality cases having same climax for all of them ?
    My friend, in reality there is no god.. bt in our deep mind we have a belief that even though the possibility of a blessing is 1/10000000000, we will continue to prey till death.. Because , only that hope helps so many to move on in their lives .. so I think, this novel may helps so many lovers to follow their hearts and dreams persistently with never quit attitude like madhav Jha..
    Its not a classic literature work.. . just having the standard of a movie plot, as u said.. no doubt. I agree.. full of coincidences, climax is very dramatic and cliché, that kissing obsession is also looked little weird.. but despite all these flaws , my reality is that the story touched me…may b it wud have done the same to all those who have ever experienced loving and following his/her lover and ended up in gain or pain..watever..
    Thank u..!
    regards

    Binesh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, Binesh, I get your point. They had to meet so our story could move forward and I really don't deny that. But the circumstances of them meeting could've been different. I and you both want stories and we read fiction to escape and we often give weird co-incidences a pass, we accept. But this instance was too much for me. There was no way that could happen. Anyway, I get your point really.

      And about that argument of God, I am not so sure about there being no God. And see, I didn't say hope is not a good thing, but the chances of some events happening is still so minuscule that when they happen, it is nothing but absurd.
      And again, the story touched you, right? But the story didn't touch me, so if you can like it, I have every right to say I dislike it.
      Thank you Binesh! :)

      Delete
  11. Binesh I agree that the writer would want to write about that minuscule probability event rather than the boring real life but then the talent is not about telling us but rather making that unprobable event seem possible in the most convincing way with as much imagination as possible. The author in this instance lacked both, imagination and substance. It's not what he wrote, it's the way he wrote it that left a bad after taste. The characters have no depth and the screenplay (if u think of it as movie script) is so short of small "interesting" details that would have made the same story worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! This is what I wanted to say to Binesh and you've said it in a better fashion. Thank you!

      Delete
  12. Hey Vineet.
    I read this book (crap) last night and i was so bored that even physics book seemed more appealing .
    I can totally relate to your feelings . Wish i had read this article before .
    You know i used to love CB a lot but now he has been using the same script in all his books. I am done reading his books forever .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha, you know you're reading one of a kind book when your physics books sounds more appealing. :D
      hey, it's okay that you read it. next time, be careful though! :)

      Delete
  13. Hey Vineet.
    I read this book (crap) last night and i was so bored that even physics book seemed more appealing .
    I can totally relate to your feelings . Wish i had read this article before .
    You know i used to love CB a lot but now he has been using the same script in all his books. I am done reading his books forever .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See we all start reading with the likes of Chetan Bhagat and all and since those books are our firsts we hold them to our heart.

      then we grow, we see new worlds, we meet new people but some authors never evolve. Chetan Bhagat is sort of that author.

      Delete
  14. Very true.. This book is a complete nonsense which contents impractical happenings. Complete waste of timr

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ahh ! I thought I was the only one.
    Thanks for such an entertaining read. CB is freakin obsessed with Bollywood and he is more of a sell-out than any other decent author I came across.
    It's very clear he doesn't respect writing anymore. Atleast not as much as his first book.
    I read this somewhere,"I just finished Half-Girlfriend. Is there anyway to convert these papers back to tree?"
    That and ur post sums it all up !
    Good luck with ur attempt as an authour :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey thanks. Let's see what I make of it. And trust me you're not the only one. This book was just a collapse. Keep rocking. ☺

      Delete
  16. Geez!..I shd hv considered reading some other novel than this..and by the way this book should have been titled like "do u believe in coincidences"..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi! Loved your review! Super smart and funny. Agreed with every word, especially the part about coincidences! A point to add- in which world is it ok for a 19 year old literature scholar to marry her domestically abusive 'rakhi brother' without giving any known reason. Except .. You know.. She be mysterious yo! Where can I follow your reviews?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what amuses me no. We talk about equality and stuff like that and then we have popular culture defining women in these ways. And ask any half wit author who writes romance why two people fall in love and they'd say 'because love works in mysterious ways'. This is such an overused shortcut.

      Anyway, I don't review a lot of books. but for when I do and for general chit chat, connect with me on Facebook? Search Vineet Digga.

      Delete
  18. Nailed it bro :D

    Half Girlfriend
    Please?
    No.
    Please?
    No.
    The End

    ReplyDelete
  19. u have not publish any of my comments y?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I might have been the last to read this book. Same thought as yours misleading title and stupid characters

    ReplyDelete