Book Summary of Revolution 2020 Once upon a time, in small-town India, there lived two intelligent boys. One wanted to use his intelligence to make money. One wanted to use his intelligence to create a revolution. The problem was, they both loved the same girl. Welcome to Revolution 2020. A story about childhood friends Gopal, Raghav and Aarti who struggle to find success and love in Varanasi. However, it isn’t easy to achieve this in an unfair society that rewards the corrupt. As Gopal gives in to the system, and Raghav fights it, who will win? From the bestselling author of Five Point Someone, one night @ the call center, The Three Mistakes of My Life and 2 States, comes another gripping tale from the heartland of India. Are you ready for the revolution?
So. This was a thing.
If you’ve not heard of Chetan Bhagat, you’re not Indian. He’s infamous for writing books which people either love or hate. My father HATES his work with a passion, but I have a few friends who really enjoy his books. I’ve never read a book by Chetan Bhagat before. One of my friends read this recently and said he related to it a lot and that I should read it too. He gave me his copy and I thought that I might as well give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised by it because all of my family members hate his work – I didn’t think it was brilliant, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but it wasn’t bad.
The book starts off with Bhagat meeting Gopal, the director of GangaTech Varanasi, having a few drinks and then having to drop Gopal at the hospital because he drank too much and collapsed. Gopal then proceeds to tell Chetan about why he is so miserable – he lost the girl of his dreams, Aarti. Then, the story of Gopal’s life unfurls.
This book is in severe need of an editor – the sentences are choppy and with several grammatical errors. I understand that the dialogue was in ‘Indian English’ ending sentences with “no?” and saying other typical Indian phrases to add to the authenticity of the story – that is forgivable. But the story is told in Gopal’s point of view and his narrative had way too many errors. The writing felt very juvenile for the hard subject matter. Also, the Hindi slurs used are not italicized, which really irked me. And I found it a bit weird that he only used Hindi words to swear, not terms like “Arre” and “Accha” which we use almost unconsciously.
Gopal’s story starts off quite sad – he lives in near poverty with barely enough to eat with only his father because his mother had passed away. He, like a majority of other Indian students, was forced to study to get an engineering degree from NIT/IIT because if you don’t get in there, your life is worthless. The portrayal of Indian mentality of ‘IIT or nothing’ was fantastic. Gopal spends a while in Kota preparing to rewrite the entrance exams to get a better rank. In his time in Kota, he talks a bit about the environment of the coaching classes and how they segregate their students, and in general, how IIT aspirants are treated there. One of Gopal’s friends gets a good rank while he does not and you can really see how that took a toll on him. He becomes bitter and struggles with trying to feel happy for his friend but sad for himself. I liked that they talked about the stresses of students in coaching classes, and would have liked if we dwelled on that part of his life for longer.
Another aspect this book delves into is corruption in politics – we all know it exists, this book tells us exactly how much. The MLA has a seemingly endless flow of cash on him and can get anyone to do anything. It’s quite ridiculous. Is it realistic? I don’t know, but if it is – it’s a matter of concern.
Moving on to the main part of the story – the love plot.
For a book that is primarily a love story, the love story sucked. Gopal has been in love with Aarti since he was in 5th grade but the annoying thing about this book is that we are never told why? He keeps moaning about how much he loves her but doesn’t give any reason for it. One begins to question whether he actually wants her or just wanted to prove that he was better than his friend, Raghav, who was dating her. Gopal saw Aarti as a trophy, to prove that he has something that his friend does not, and that is so problematic! Another frustrating thing about this was that Aarti keeps saying things like, “I miss you” and whenever Gopal asks her to be his girlfriend, the first thing he brings up after she rejects him is that she says these things. Are you not allowed to miss your friends? What? In general, I think the characters are the weakest point of the story which sucks because this is a character driven story. They were all so frustrating to read and had no personality.
Ultimately, this is terrible writing but an interesting story, albeit anticlimactic. It’s a good depiction of Indian society in a small town, but if you’re not familiar with the Indian system of education/government, it could be quite hard to follow. It’s not a book that I would recommend if you’re looking for a love story, but if you have nothing else to read, go for it!
PS- Is this a real story? I found that GangaTech is a real university. If it is, how awkward for Gopal, Aarti and Raghav! 😛