A story of struggle to get your in-laws fall in love with you beats any boy-meets-girl fiction, whether it is a film or a novel, or even real life incident.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge portrayed this theme and turned out to be one of Bollywood’s most successful films, spawned a dozen NRI spin-offs, and is still running houseful in a Mumbai theatre.
Now, India's most popular genre fiction writer, a youth icon, Chetan Bhagat comes up with the same premise in '2 States - The Story of My Marriage'. It spices up the tale of two people from different culture, clan and region when they plan to get married.
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The premise of 2 States is that in India, marriage is considered not a union of two individuals but of two families.
Bhagat dedicates this novel to his in-laws, but rushes in to remind us that he’s not henpecked – Does this imply that only those who are ‘not man enough’ respect their in-laws?
Inspired by his own life, Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Story of My Marriage’ describes the attempts of two independent IIM graduates - Krish and Ananya – to convince their parents to accept each other.
Unlike other love stories, this story doesn’t end with the girl and boy confessing their love, and begins with their decision to tie the knot.
When one starts reading this book, you might feel you’re reading a sequel to ‘Five Point Someone.’ After an unpleasant stint in IIT, Krish Malhotra, a middle-class Punjabi, joins IIM-A with a goal to land in a well-paid job where he can save money and follow his dream of becoming a writer.
Krish’s friendship with Ananya Sreenivasan, a Brahmin girl from Chennai, and their combined study sessions pave the way for love. But the biggest hurdle is their conservative parents’ objection to their relationship.
The age-old prejudices between northern and southern India surface. Krish’s mother, who wants him to marry a wealthy girl, dismisses Ananya as a “Madrasi with dark complexion”. Later, when she sees that Ananya is fair, she doubts if the girl is really a South Indian. She thinks “Madrasi women” trap good Punjabi boys into marriage -- and even cites the examples of actors Hema Malini and Sridevi to justify her view.
Meanwhile, Ananya’s family hates those “non-vegetarian north Indians” who can’t even appreciate Carnatic music. But Krish wins over them with a unique proposal they can’t say no to. But roadblocks remain.
Krish’s father, a stereotype Indian male chauvinist, has a sudden change of heart at the end, in true Bollywood style. He suddenly becomes the savior -- though it is very difficult to understand how a father who never had confidence in his son suddenly turns into an angel.
Ultimately, both the parents forget all the differences and agree to the wedding. But how often would this happen in real life? Do all state-crossed love stories have happy endings? Not really.
Like all Chetan Bhagat novels, ‘2 states’, too, would surely find resonance with youngsters who move to other states for jobs and get married breaking class, community and language barriers.
But the author succeeds in bringing to life the most ordinary of experiences. This is easy reading that won’t demand a lot of your time and intelligence.
If you like watching Bollywood movies, this book is sure to entertain you.
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
Price: Rs 95.00