Review of Revolution 2020:
What I really like about Chetan Bhagat’sbooks is that he gives a thoughtful insight into things that the rest ofIndia doesn’t know. He describes it insuch a way that it seems just plain fascinating. The same feeling was goingthrough my mind when I read the book.
Revolution 2020 is a story of a boy- Gopalwho is in love with his childhood best friend Aarti, the daughter of a wealthyDM. Raghav is his friend from school who is highly intelligent and does reallywell in school and the IIT-JEE exams. Gopal is your average student who comesfrom an lower middle class family who lives with his dad. He wants only onething in life- Aarti. And money. What follows is a love triangle and the jealousies,lies and betrayal. The story is set in Varanasi which gives a beautiful tone to the story. You can almost feel the chantings at the bank of river Ganga.
Gopal’s father has a chunk of land which isusurped by his cousin brother and the case drags on in court forever. Thesettlement that they are offering is miniscule to what the land original priceis. His dad being a proud farmer cannot think of selling off his land andbowing down to unfair means.
All three friends are at the threshold ofthat ominous stage when you have to choose what you are going to do for therest of their lives and give as core of entrance exams to get into streams ofyour choice. Engineering is the only field largely accepted by society as thestream of choice as it offers good salaries and jobs. The parents expect theirchildren to crack the difficult exams of IIT-JEE, AIEEE and get intoprestigious institutions.
Here is where the drama begins as Raghav’sparents don’t accept journalism as the choice of his career, being the brightstudent that he is, he gets into IIT but starts a newspaper there. Gopal flunkshis exam and goes to Kota on the behest of his dad who reads somewhere that thetown has the reputation of churning out maximum students entrants in IITs.
After Gopal reaches there, begins the partwhich I found most interesting as it gives an inside view of the factory ofcoaching classes, the coaching class culture that has developed there, of studentsstaying there as paying guests, haunted rooms where students have hungthemselves and the hierarchy of the coaching classes. The whole competitionbetween various classes, their competitive fees, the hours spent studying are theparts of the book that I liked. Gopal stays as a paying guest in a Sikh familyin a room whose previous owner hung himself when he failed his exams. No onewas willing to take this room and Gopal lapped it up, being the only room thathe could afford in his meagre resources. He meets a guy Prateek who stays inKota indefinitely smoking and drinking and doing nothing in general the wholeday as he has a family who can afford to send him money to waste. He has hisown philosophy as to his lifestyle and just believes in enjoying himself. Gopalspends a lot a time with Prateek and takes to drinking, spending all his moneywhich his dad sends him from time to time on it.
Gopal’s father is battling TB and has hugehospital bills to take care of, still not budging from his stand on his land.Meanwhile Aarti makes few and few calls to Gopal and spends more and more timewith Raghav. Their relationship is budding and this makes it unbearable for Gopalto see his Ladylove and best friend spending so much time together and gettingintimate. Aarti starts lying about a lot of things to Gopal.
She is ambitious and wants to become astewardess in the Airline sector, her family paying no heed to what she wantsand only wants to get her married off soon.
Gopal’s father dies and some thugs come upto him to demand money. He meets Ankit by accident and when he learns that ahuge tract of land is in ram’s name, takes him to meet Shuklaji , a politicianwho is extremely corrupt. He later becomes the only person who Ram can call hisown.
They teach his Chachu a lesson and usurpall his land. They make a big plan to start a giant engineering institute onthe land and make Ram the director, who doesn’t have a degree. Thus he becomesthe first director who isn’t even a graduate. Ram spends 3 years building theinstitute from Shuklaji’s accumulated black money and thus turning it intowhite. It is money that was supposed to go towards the Ganga clean-up project.Meanwhile Aarti and Raghav have a very serious relationship. Ram unsuccessfullytries to woo her when Raghav is busy unearthing stories for his newspaper. He isa very straight-forward idealist man who wants to bring in a revolution inIndia by 2020. He is a man that Arati loves and admires. Later on Raghav startsa newspaper of his own titled Revolution 2020, which at a point even becomes apamphlet which is handwritten and circulated as the newspaper incurs the wrathof Agrawalji after a sting operation. Thispart of the book is fascinating.
At a point, after opening the college,Aarti and Gopal become close and even have something like a relationship.Shuklaji is ousted and put in jail due to the scandal unearthed by Raghav’snewspaper. There is high drama at this point.
The language that Bhagat uses in the book isthe typical one used in his books till now and just comes out as something thatthe readers now have gotten used to. He uses too much the guy lingo aboutgirls-‘why do girls say this...and then this....., what do they mean when theybehave in such a way?’ ‘What is a poor guy supposed to understand?’ which makesit ok to an extent but then gets really repetitive. And boring. There are lotsof twists in the book, and the one described in the end is just a bitunexpected. It highlights how girls are still not given equal importance asboys and not enough encouragement to go after their dreams.
It tells you what happens to a guy whofights against the system and stands up for his core beliefs and doesn’t bogdown. India badly needs more people like Raghav who are channelling in, todaythe change that is at the centre of what is, India.
One thing that I like about Bhagat’s booksis that the protagonists are very ordinary, lost, not so good in various thingsand just plain average. Which make them relatable. But Gopal isn't a person who would be likeable.
Another insight that Bhagat gives is intothe running of the college and the bribing at every single level that it takes.Personally it just strengthened my disgust for the entire Indian ‘business’ ofeducation and the money making machine that it has turned into. Also it put meoff learning/studying anymore... exactly what I felt at the end of my thirdyear exams. After reading this book, your belief is strengthened that theentire system needs an overhaul and rote learning is simply killing people softly.
Its an okay book for me....there are enoughthings happening to make it a page-turner, but not as funny or interesting asthe one before this one- Two states.