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Buying “The Three Mistakes” was an impulsive decision. I’d learnt about Bhagat’s latest book from the papers and was planning to lay my hands on it someday. When I visited Modern Book House that fateful day to get a Data Structures text, I only felt too obliged to add 95 rupees to my bill seeing the book on display. It took me exactly two hours fifty six minutes to read through those 258-odd pages. Chetan takes a detour from familiar territory this time, quite literally, to cover the nuances of the colorful small-town India. The story’s about three young men from Ahmedabad: Govind, Ishaan, and Omi who start a cricket shop of sorts in early 2000. The story, as narrated by Govind, deals with their lives and their business. How they bear the brunt of their own lives; tiding past devastating earthquakes, religious intolerance, political maneuvering; even unacceptable love forms the crux of the plot.
Bhagat, most certainly has done his homework more meticulously than his previous works. His style has visibly improved, though the narrative-framework of FPS & ON@TCC is intact. He subtly makes a few politically-incorrect noises, albeit sensible ones through his characters. And Chetan does that immaculately without taking sides. (He has dedicated his book to the “country, which called me back“, mind you!) The pacing is just perfect. The romance track is also well laid out. I loved it better than Shyam-Priyanka one of ON@TCC. Even the sex is described in a better manner. 😉 The narrative is almost unfaltering, even gripping at times. Cricket which almost drives the plot is described amazingly well. Quite some effort has been put into blending the characters with the milieu. Having spent a good number of his ‘formative years’ in Ahmedabad (Chetan Bhagat is an IIM-A alumnus), his knowledge of the city inside out shows all through the book. The visual imagery of the sixth largest Indian city (often dismissed as a small-town, Bhagat exasperatedly muses) is splendid in a strangely nondescript manner.
Despite all his well-pulled-off effort, I wouldn’t rate “The Three Mistakes” as the best one yet from Bhagat’s stable. Bhagat writes this in the mould of his previous book. He does a cameo in his own story. So there’s this remarkably-appalling cock-and-bull story about how Govind (the protagonist) e-mails Chetan about his forthcoming suicide, and how he pops exactly the same number of sleeping pills as there are number of sentences in his e-mail! (Duh!) Dutifully reader-loving, hottest-author-on-the-block guy that Bhagat is, he gets to know the felo-de-se’s whereabouts from a professor at IIM and touches down to Ahmedabad in search of a potential story! (Gawd, how cheesy can this be??!) Needless to say, Bhagat listens to his story (yes, Govind is the narrator), and finally leaves them all basking in happily-ever-after glory. Oh, by the way, he reunites the lovers of the ‘unacceptable love story’ in the end! If you ask me, the climax wasn’t upto the mark! It’s too mundane and predictable.
Plot holes abound in this book. Like, how did our analytical-minded, Mathematics-loving, emotionally-discharged hero read Bhagat’s books and e-mail his suicide note to him, even when he had a long-lost girlfriend and estranged once-best-friend waiting? Only the affluent owned mobile phones in 2000 and we have lots of SMSing action all through the book! Now Govind, the poorest of his gang, is a middle class guy who rejoices on reaching an ‘astounding’ business target of Rs 40,000 a quarter, mind you! (I’d love to mention more, but then I’ll get myself sued by Chetan Bhagat himself!) Of the ‘three mistakes’, I could only find the first one highlighted in the book. In total, I could count only two ‘prominent’ mistakes, where is the third one? Or was it blended in the plot itself? Did I miss it? I’ll never know, for sure. Quick tip, Mr Bhagat. When you give a catchy title to your new book, make sure that at least an echo of its essence thrives at some point of the plot.
As I said before, “The Three Mistakes of My Life” is quintessentially Chetan Bhagat. Everything, right from the suave paperback packaging by Rupa to the sex scene has Chetan’s name written all over it. Alright, it works fine and I’m sure this one will succeed like his previous works, but shouldn’t there be a full-stop someday? As in, I expect a whole whiff of fresh air that Chetan initially brought with his carefully-construed IITian-youth angst. Yes, Mr Bhagat!! Being one of his greatest fans alive, I demand change from you!! Alright, you strike a well-meaning chord with the youth thanks to your cheeky books, but don’t you think it’s high time for something serious? Different? Satisfying?
Despite all this, I STRONGLY recommend “The Three Mistakes of my life”! It’s heartening and feel-good. Do give it a try if you’re down with a bad mood and I’m sure it’ll lift your spirits. Hardcore Chetan Bhagat fans like me will find a slight off-key note at some point, but still you’ll love it. Picture this, my copy was full off printing errors and I couldn’t actually read about six pages due to typeset overlapping. Still I managed to read it in one stretch, despite parents’ incessant wrath for ‘not productively utilizing time’! How cool can that be?I read through all this! Believe me! 😉
My Rating: 7.67/10