Chetan Bhagat's "2 States" is often lauded as a modern Indian love story, celebrated for its light-hearted narrative and portrayal of intercultural relationships. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the novel's numerous shortcomings far outweigh its merits.
The story revolves around Krish and Ananya, two individuals from distinct Indian states who fall in love during their MBA program. The central plot of the book is their struggle to convince their parents to accept their intercultural marriage. While the premise sounds promising, the execution leaves much to be desired.
One of the most glaring issues with "2 States" is its shallow character development. Both Krish and Ananya come across as one-dimensional, with their personalities reduced to clichéd stereotypes. Krish, the Punjabi boy, is portrayed as a brash and insensitive individual, while Ananya, the Tamilian girl, is portrayed as studious and traditional. This reductionist approach to character building makes it difficult for readers to connect with or invest in the protagonists' journey.
Bhagat's writing style leaves a lot to be desired. The prose is simplistic, often bordering on amateurish, and lacks depth. The dialogue is stilted and unconvincing, making it difficult to believe in the authenticity of the characters' emotions and interactions. The humor, which is intended to be a hallmark of Bhagat's novels, falls flat and often resorts to crude jokes and stereotypes, perpetuating regressive ideas about gender, culture, and relationships.
The plot itself is riddled with clichés and predictability. From the moment Krish and Ananya meet, the reader can anticipate every twist and turn in their relationship. There are no surprises or moments of genuine emotional depth. Instead, the story relies on contrived situations and melodrama to move forward, making it feel more like a Bollywood screenplay than a well-crafted novel.
One of the most concerning aspects of "2 States" is its portrayal of cultural differences. While the novel attempts to address the complexities of intercultural relationships, it often does so in a superficial and stereotypical manner. The characters' parents are depicted as caricatures of their respective cultures, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reinforcing divisions. Instead of fostering a meaningful dialogue about cultural diversity and understanding, the book often reduces these differences to punchlines.
Furthermore, the book's treatment of gender roles and expectations is deeply problematic. Ananya, a promising and ambitious student, is eventually reduced to a stereotype of a dutiful Indian wife, while Krish's character remains largely unchanged. The novel's inability to challenge or subvert these gender norms is a missed opportunity and a disappointing aspect of the story.
This book may have found commercial success and a dedicated fanbase, but I believe that it fails to deliver a meaningful and thought-provoking narrative. Its shallow character development, simplistic writing style, and reliance on stereotypes make it a subpar piece of literature.
Moreover, the novel's handling of cultural differences and gender roles perpetuates regressive ideas rather than challenging them.
My rating: 3/5