Book Review of Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl: An Answer to What Women Want by Dr. Richa Tripathi


Book: One Indian Girl
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
Pages: 280
Reviewed by: Dr. Richa Tripathi

This novel of Chetan Bhagat deals with the most cliché question, ‘what women really want?’  Unlike his previous novels, this time writer pens a female as his protagonist, to raise bigger issues such as gender equality, society verses individualism, feminism, liberalism and humanism.  Writer tries to target modern, liberated and independent youngsters who believe in ‘live and let others live’ as they have the capacity to handle the so-called pressure of ‘being Indian’. Bhagat wants to draw attention to this issue that if it is a female, challenges and pressure of ‘being Indian girl’ is even harder.  Her protagonist Radhika Mehta like every other independent Indian girl comes out as a fighter who knows how to learn from her own experiences and how to live life on her own terms. Somewhat, Chetan Bhagat is succeeded in setting the example with the help of the climax of the novel which is uncommon and rebellious.

The lady in the cover is suitable to catch the attention of the audience as every man wants to know what women want.  Her ethnic look in sari, chain, nose pin and hair bun indicates her consistent struggle to meet all the social expectation beyond her personal aspiration. Her bent head and leaning stare give readers the deeper insight of her urge for equal human rights and equal human freedom. ‘Why only me, every time?’ is a question present in her gaze which is frequently argued by Radhika with her mother and her lovers. Actually, it’s a setup to raise a query among readers with the help of her thought provoking heated conversations.  This red Chunari around her seems like a marriage trap to cage an independent bird with wings. The statue of liberty in the New York City, a memorial made to celebrate independence, democracy and liberty after the abolition of slavery of any kind that represents the true inner self of protagonist. Readers can easily connect themselves with this one Indian girl who is the symbol of independence and freedom in abroad but fighting hard with this repressive monarchy of male dominating society in her motherland. Entire plot moves around Radhika’s journey to search her true inner self while she was trying hard to satisfy everyone’s expectations around her. After cover page, next page is totally dedicated to the appraisal, accomplishments, awards, achievements done by Chetan Bhagat which seems like a smart and strategic move to enlarge the circle of the audiences.

With the use of first person narration, Radhika’s notions clearly offer reader to read her mind and to give them a chance to empathise with her. The combo of her tempered outer replies and the brutal callings of her inner voice ‘Mini me’ is the main centre of attraction for the reader to feel captive with the plot and characters and to develop better understanding for Radhika, who sometimes unable to discern herself because of the mess present in her life. Entire story revolves around the pursuit of her aspirations and her fortitude to overcome limitations against all odds.

On Indian Girl talks about the story of twenty-seven-year-old Radhika Mehta, daughter of SBI Branch Manage Sudarshan Mehta and homemaker Aparna Mehta who is a vice president in the firm of an investment bank in which she earns in millions. She is all set to have an arrange marriage in Goa with Brijesh Gulati who works in Facebook. Surprisingly, her two exes, Debu and Neel Gupta show up there to marry her. Like Anshuman’s character in the movie ‘Jab We Met’, Debu wants to marry Radhika and forces her to alter the groom from her wedding from Brijesh to Debu because now he is regretting his act of rejecting Radhika in the beginning. On the other side Neel Gupta is all set to elope with the ‘bride to be’ in her charted plane. Sudden change in their perspectives shocks her because both thought of her not ‘a marriage material type’.  Story revolves around in New York, Hong Kong, London and Goa. In Goa, where she is trying to make up her mind for arrange marriage. She is making her mind for being naked in front of a perfect stranger after marriage.  All the relatives of girl-side and boy side have come to attend the ceremony. With the progression of the story, reader will come to know the two versions of Radhika, the perfect daughter, sister, lover, bride to be and dedicated professional with sweet lies and on the other side her eternal critic the Mini me, her real self with bitter truths. Reader can easily bond themselves with the Mini me as everyone has a voice of an inner consciences and only few dare to live by that.

Interestingly enough, this is a novel defines feminism from different angles where protagonist’s anti-feminist mother plays a very interesting role to highlight this big issue with the help of her humorous and witty comments in every possible manner.  Reader will definitely enjoy reading her remarks and can easily match them with their own personal experiences of being the part of Indian family. Writer certainly wants to unleash all the sealed Stereotypes of ‘being Indian’ such as prejudgemental tendencies, wrong assumptions, deceptive tactics and all the emotional blackmailing done by Indians for the name of ‘customary protocols’.

In this novel, Bhagat seems to be inspired by E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey as his bold narration of the intercourse between Debu and Radhika is making it not only romantic but also erotic and sensuous at some extent. It looks like an anatomy class for the readers also as they will read the phrases like ‘Grabbed my breasts’, ‘kissed my nipples’, ‘pulled down my panties’, ‘entered me gently’ and ‘tongue had felt better’. And the closing lines after sex is very challenging to declare but Bhagat’s Radhika does it by saying, “I would be rather a spent and finished slut than a good but frustrated Indian girl”.

Once again, Chetan Bhagat is unable to come out from her liner creativity as reader will again experience a typical mom with her sexist remarks, an investment banker story, love traps and the two states differences and now this time it is Punjabi and Bengali community. The title, ‘One Indian Girl’ is capable to mystify the readers as it is expected from the writer to be more realistic in approach because Indian society is harsher in reality and mostly escape and denial are not that simple where burning brides, female feticides, acid attack victims and honour killing victims are in the news all the time.

By reading this novel, reader will get the clarity about the real meaning of true independence is that one is not answerable to anyone but oneself and one should not go by the society’s versions of what is moral, ethical or right. Individual has a thought process and they should not only think for themselves but also question everything. Individual should be answerable to his/her consciousness without justifying things unnecessarily to anyone. Don’t suppress your uniqueness to maintain normalcy. This is the moral of the story and massage of Chetan Bhaget to every Indian Girl so that they can feel proud on themselves.  At last, as a reader loves to find the answer of that so called cliché question by replying that ‘what women really want is the option not to choose between what they actually want because they deserve all’.


The Reviewer: Dr. Richa Tripathi

dr richa tripathiDr. Richa Tripathi is Assistant Professor, Humanities Department at Galgotia College of Engineering and Technology, Gr. Noida, Uttar Pradesh. She teaches graduate and post graduate students English and Professional Communication. Her uncomplicated poetic lines are filled with humanistic approach towards life. Her multiple research paper, articles and poems have been published in various national and international journals i.e. ‘An INDIAN BRIDE’, ‘ROMIO & JULIUT IN VERSE’ in Galaxy: International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, ‘ON THE JUDGEMENT DAY’ in The Criterion: An international Journal in English, ‘ONCE UPON A NIGHT’, ‘TANDAV FOR LOVE’, ‘STILL CRY’ and ‘PRAY FOR THE DEAD’ in Modern Research Studies, ‘LET ME EXPRESS’ and ‘LOVE: AN ETERNAL FLOW’ in the Book “The Melodies of Immortality”.