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Leave 2020, this is unrevolutionary for 2011
Oct 08, 2011 10:54 PM 11130 Views
(Updated Oct 08, 2011 10:56 PM)



I got my copy of Revolution 2020from, which thankfully is perhaps the only site which ships books authored by Indians internationally. Even though I ended up paying a comparatively bigger sum $20 – after shipping costs to Rs. 80 from, I am not complaining. I heaved a sigh of relief when my copy actually arrived at my doorstep in one piece. Finally, everything had fallen into place – my credit card was actually accepted, the transaction did go through and the book arrived at the correct address! The stars had to be aligned for all these things to have happened and I do thank my stars. At last, I can read Indian novels from the comfort of my Australian backyard.

Chetan Bhagat returns to wielding a pen rather than his tongue in his new age venture Revolution 2020.One thing that strikes immediately is that this is the much mellower Chetan. He doesn’t have the flamboyance of his previous projects. Though the vision and message of this book is definitely grand – a step towards corruption free India, its execution is tacky. This is perhaps the worst penned Chetan Bhagat novel till date. I know that doesn’t say much, because if there was a list of laureates, CB wouldn’t be in it, but even by his own standards, CB has failed miserably. Revolution 2020is a classic example of what not to do if you set out to write a novel.

The premise of the novel, I must say is very uplifting. It is the sort of premise which is meant to spur its audience into action. The concern lies in the execution, which is cliché ridden, shallow and lacks research into human psyche. CB manages to take such an uplifting premise and completely muddle up the narrative. It does take a lot of effort to ruin a good premise and CB leaves no stone unturned.


The narrative revolves around three friends – Gopal (Gopi), Aarti and Raghav. In typical CB style, out three protagonists are once again stuck doing things they do not want to do. Aarti wants to become an airhostess (frankly, there have been so many that if I see another character wanting to become an airhostess, I’ll jump off a cliff). Raghav joins IT BHU (of course, IT! Who could have seen that coming, eh?), but his real passion is journalism and he wants to change the country for the better through journalism. Gopi’s aims are completely material but he fails to make it to IIT. He joins a coaching centre in Kota, spends his dad’s savings to pay off the fee and ends up losing his dad, money and still remains uneducated. The only way out Gopi feels is by joining forces with corrupt MLA Shukla who promises to start Gopi’s own college. Let the wheels of corruption begin – bribes for property on disputed land, registry, UGC officials, inspectors and the lot.

Meanwhile, Raghav gets a utopian kick in the backside and decides to pursue his passion for journalism. He does a Julian Assange and starts his own paper – revolution 2020 (thus the title), promising to wage a crusade against corruption. Now, Gopi and Raghav are on opposite sides. Both love Aarti. Aarti saw Gopi as the “best friend” material and Raghav as the “boyfriend” material which also enrages Gopi. Who does Aarti love? And who gets the girl?

First and foremost, Revolution 2020fails because it doesn’t even live up to CB’s own standards, let alone anyone else’s. Right from the beginning where Gopi ponders the emptiness he feels regardless of all his material wealth till the climax – the writing is juvenile. A 10 yr old could have used the phrases that CB employs here. Gopi asking – “What does all this mean” – pointing to material possessions and then blurting – “I have nothing” after being drunk. CB doesn’t take time to establish his character study. You have one dialogue after the other, followed by description. He said this, he said that, there was a door open; I walked out, end of story. Revolution 2020seems to penned in a great hurry, or is a victim of inevitable carelessness that stems from lazy writing when one lets fame get to them. I don’t know what happened but this novel was plain lazy. CB in this one makes SR Saha – author of Jab Se You have Loved Me look like a genius.

There is none of the usual CB wit, anomaly or similes that you have come to expect from him. CB follows a repetitive line – dialogue, description, dialogue, description and so on. CB has lost the wit that he had aplenty in all of his previous ventures. A ‘mellow’ Chetan Bhagat is as good as any struggling author. What makes CB special is his employment of tactically apt analogies which satirise social norms. There was a severe lack of that in this book to the extent that it didn’t feel like I was reading a CB novel.

There was a severe lack of character engagement. We see the events from Gopi’s perspective and even that is not consistent and CB jumps around as the omniscient narrator. We never know anything more about Aarti or Raghav than what is needed to form the love triangle. Why is Raghav the perennial clichéd good boy? What prompts him to take journalism as the tool to reach his goal? We don’t even why exactly do Raghav and Gopi love Aarti? What is it about her that drives them mad about her? These simple logical questions get no answer. CB gets muddled up between his grand project of the macroeconomics of anti-corruption and the microeconomics of the love triangle and manages to appear unconvincing in both parallel plots. Perhaps, the only saving grace was the climax, which was executed well, with a good build-up. That is the only time you care about the fate of the characters in the 42 chapters.

Overall, Revolution 2020is a huge disappointment in terms of execution of a promising premise. CB fails mainly because he lets go of his strengths, which only leaves his weaknesses uncovered for all to see. As to why he doesn’t employ his strength of satirical comparisons is beyond me. This is definitely the worst attempt by him.

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Revolution 2020 - Chetan Bhagat