Govind Patel, the protagonist of ‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’, doesn’t seem to know the life of a young guy struggling in Ahmedabad for running a business. Why? Cause Govind’s creator, Chetan Bhagat seems to have seen Gujarat only through the gates of IIMA. His observations are that of an outsider, who perhaps appreciates the place but still doesn’t seem to have caught the spirit of the city or state.
The story has many cliches related to Ahmedabad and Gujaratis that includes a dinner at Vishala serving traditional Gujarati food. If he intended to bring this ‘small town'(as he prefers to call it) some fame, but one can easily grasp his satirical tone.
The whole novel is printed as if it has straight gone for the final printing out of Bhagat’s laptop without any proof-reading. Or were they saving the cost of copy-editing to price it so low? When you are out with a book with the claim of being India’s best story-teller in English, how about living up to that too?
The whole story begins in thrilling fictional premises as the author himself flies down to Ahmedabad to track a hopeless young man on the verge of death. He listens to Govind’s story. So do we. But through out Govind’s story, he has been struggling to make money and his mother also talks of finally buying him a colour TV that he refuses as he wants to invest more in business. How come he lands up with a computer and net connection while typing a suicide note (errr email) to a writer (by the way Govind is not projected as a book reader who would keep track of Bhagat’s email id either).
If you happen to read the whole book, you would be able to come up with a never ending ‘Readers don’t digest’ list. However, if such books are sold like hot cakes, then I am tempted to ask, are these ‘readers’ actually reading what they buy? Or is it just ‘trendy’ to own a Rs. 95 book written by the writer aptly tagged as the writer of young India. I would take a guess that those who read this mainly fall under the ‘pulp’ reading umbrella who have hardly had any exposure to real literature.
If one is ready to accept that the young generation is confused and is heading into an unknown direction, so does this story.
Govind has two friends. He terms himself an emotionless businessman, Ishaan is a failed cricketer and Omi is that guy who follows his friends and has troubles of his own. Three of them go through a lot of turbulence including a massive Earthquake and communal riots. And in between they manage to go to Goa to catch hold of an Australian cricketer who also manages to sponsor their free trip to the Ozzie-land and offer them the citizenship along with their protege Ali. Yes, Ali is another character we have to talk about. Everything surrounding him appears too contrived. And the writer has used least bit of imagination in creating the only audible female character of Vidya.
On a positive note, Bhagat does get his one liners and his religious beliefs right. He also makes you smile when he pictures angry parents buried in newspaper and you can’t help but chuckle when he says, “Confident women make terrible daughter-in-laws”. There is something endearing and likable about his success on the whole but this book stands to be the worst of his four.
Remember that excuse we all use when we make while watching a brainless Bollywood film? “Keep your brains home while watching it”. Well, keep your brains in the lockers while reading this one if you have to. With the kind of leverage this writer has, he could use his popularity in a far better and creative way than churning out over-the-top, deadline oriented cheap fiction. However, just to see it as a pop-novel, it’s perfect.
PS: Bhagat has chosen to thank the whole of Salman Khan’s family including Atul Agnihotri, the director of Hello (based on One Night@Call center). No wonder his book feels like Bollywood film gone wrong.