I still wonder why Chetan Bhagat wrote “Half Girlfriend”, when he could’ve simply written the script and handed it over to any top bollywood director. Reading this book is like reading a typical masala Hindi movie, instead of watching it. Everything you thought is impossible has been brought to life by Bhagat in this installment of his brilliant understanding of the youth of our nation.
This book carries no message, unlike some brilliant works by Chetan Bhagat such as “REVOLUTION 2020”. What he wants to convey through this book is still not clear. True love conquers all? You don’t need to be fluent in English to date/attend college/get a job?
There are no effective and magical dialogues like we had in “2 States”. Both the main characters are immature when it comes to taking important decisions in their lives.
The plot of the book harbours on the love story of Madhav and Riya. Madhav is a poor village boy from Bihar who has a hard time speaking in English. Half of the book discusses how difficult it is for him to converse in English. Even though he lacks fluency, he gets an admission in one of the nation’s leading colleges, St. Stephens, by sports quota. The meet cute happens when Madhav sees Riya at the sports trials and he predictably falls for her and calls it “love at first sight”. We Indians, as you know, are obsessed with such unrealistic phenomena. Riya, a Delhi-ite, belongs to a rich and elite family, which forms the cherry of the already cliché cake that this book is turning out to be.
Madhav is very keen to make Riya his girlfriend but is always “friendzoned” by her. Madhav tries to convince her every time they meet but Riya clearly wants to just stay friends. Madhav wants more from Riya. This is when Riya introduces the concept of “half girlfriend” (friend cum girlfriend) to cool down the ever-increasing desires of her “half boyfriend”.
Chetan Bhagat loves drama. It’s there in all of his books but I guess he is not aware of the word ‘over-dramatization’. This is what Half Girlfriend is, an over dramatic, book. What really drives the reader crazy is that Riya, a dropout from college is able to get a job and that not being enough, she can also afford to get a house on rent for Rs. 20,000 per month and here I am, not even sure if I’ll get a job after my graduation. (Rich parents? Ahhh…)
The reason for her dropping out of college is even crazier. After her fall out with Madhav, she leaves her education to marry Rohan, a rich guy who is introduced as her childhood friend and moves to London, only to suffer domestic violence at the hands of her superficially sweet husband. So, she takes the next logical step and moves to Bihar, because why the hell not?
This unrealistic approach was apparently not sufficient, so Bhagat decided to bring Bill Gates into the picture to inaugurate an impoverished village school in Bihar. Meanwhile our love birds meet again in Patna after 3 years and rekindle the old spark in their twisted relationship. Everything runs quite smoothly until Riya disappears, all over again and leaves behind a long emotional letter for our heartbroken hero, Madhav, asking him to forget her, because she has lung cancer and is going to die. Now comes the plot twist (wait, were you thinking Bhagat would REALLY leave it at that?), the broker of Riya’s rented house calls Madhav and hands him one torn notebook of hers, which reveals the fact that she is definitely not dead and never had any kind of cancer.
By now you all must’ve realized that anything can happen in a Bhagat book, so by some miracle, Madhav has a hunch that Riya is in NEW YORK and takes the very next flight to launch a search for the love of her life, who has clearly left him TWICE. Once he reaches the big apple, he remembers that she loved to sing, so his plan of action is to look for her in every single bar of New York in a span of 2-3 months, with an old photograph of hers in hand, and completely waste the opportunity that the Bill Gates Foundation gave to him as an internship in New York.
He manages to go to every single bar. How does a poor village boy from Bihar afford all of this? We gave up the logical arguments ages ago! Our superhero finally finds his Juliet, the night before his departure after running for nearly an hour while it snowed in New York, without freezing to death and they live happily ever after.
So we are left with two dry characters. One decides to dropout of college to marry the first guy who woos her while the other leaves his job in the city to go to his old mother in the village, who lives in a dilapidated mansion and starts a school in the village but forgets that to help someone in that situation you need money. The plot is completely corny and has the full capability to be a super hit bollywood movie.
Oh, and did I forget to add that this poor village boy is actually a prince who became a pauper? You cannot blame me. I’ve been swimming in a sea of clichés for too long now.