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Three boys, three mistakes

A review of Chetan Bhagat's latest bestseller

Another bestseller has hit the shelves by celebrated author Chetan Bhagat (loud applause and cheering). Based on real events, The 3 Mistakes of My Life is a dark witty tale about modern India by the author of Five Point Someone and One Night at the Call Centre.

This is the real life story of a suffering boy who has committed three mistakes that drastically alter his life. He (Govind) is a poor hardworking boy who aims to be big. He narrates his story to the author whilst lying in a hospital bed. A sympathetic Chetan Bhagat listens to him even as his wicked mind starts to build a book out of it...

Let me begin with an account of my acquaintance with Chetan Bhagat’s books.

Chetan Bhagat Personally, I have never been very interested in books by Indian authors. But my friends advised me to go for it, so I started with a borrowed Five Point Someone (after all, if the author is an IITian you have to pay him some attention…). The book struck an instant chord with me and the following week I managed to get hold of his second book. I finished both off within a week (I’m not raving... I read Harry Potter No 7 in 12 hours flat!).

Five Point Someone is a contemporary story with just the right mix of masala to become a runaway success. Bhagat’s second book One Night at the Call Centre didn’t come close to its predecessor although that book too was a sell-out.

As time passed I began to lose interest in Bhagat’s books, dismissing them as just another temporary cult. I didn’t even know that the third book had hit the stores until a friend told me. I went to a bookstore to grab my own copy.

When I reached the store and asked for the book I was surprised to learn that it had sold out (on day one…phenomenal!). Surprising, but not totally unexpected. Curiosity got the better of me and I was determined to have it. After a few more fruitless excursions to other bookstores, I finally got what I wanted… The Three Mistakes of My life (what a relief!).

To start with, the book’s cover is quite impressive… very different from its predecessors (if you look closely, the shadow on the cover is that of Bhagat himself!).

The plot is not remotely related to IIM-A (as many of Bhagat’s fans thought it was…), but… yeah… the story is based in Ahmedabad. And it is riveting, right from the start.

Following the trend started in One Night at the Call Centre, Bhagat interviews a guy (Govind, as I explained earlier) about his life and then impersonates him in the book. The story is about three young boys (familiar…eh?!) who dream big in a small city. It’s set in late-2000 and the next few years.

Remember (indeed I had forgotten…) that the state of Gujarat at that time was in the midst of turmoil. There was the Bhuj earthquake and the Godhra incident clubbed with happier moments like when the Indian cricket team returned victorious from Australia (a rare moment if you ask me… like an earthquake!).

That is the crux of the story… how the lives of the three ordinary boys get entwined with the earthquake, the riots, cricket and their dreams. And the way the story is presented proves that there is a mastermind at work.

The book is unique in many ways. This is the first time sadness and gloom have crept into Bhagat’s books. It’s not all fun and games for the lead characters. The book has a serious note, offering us an insight into dirty politics and intimidation. It’s no longer a walk in the park… there is agony and killings too.

But amidst it all Bhagat still gets to introduce humour and show the lighter side of life. And yes… there is some unexpected love (Chetan Bhagat’s trademark…).

All in all, it’s a gripping story and the book is a compulsive page-turner. So stimulating in fact that I devoured it in seven hours straight after which I promptly SMSed a friend and told him the whole story without realising that it was well past midnight!

I give The 3 Mistakes of My Life a total of 10 out of 10 as it meets all the expectations of the fans. The plot is better than One Night at the Call Centre and equals, if not surpasses, Five Point Someone. Nothing is missing from the plot; it’s tight, crisp and effective. There are hardly any flaws from cover to cover and the concept of having two epilogues has been used with great effectiveness. If this book too is converted into a movie (like the other two), it will be a delight. I can hardly wait for the next book… What will it be? We can only guess. But…yeah, one thing is clear. The name will start with ‘seven’ (odd number, see… Five Point Someone, One Night at the Call Centre, 3 Mistakes of My Life) That’s my logic (copyrighted)…

-- Sushant Sharma
(Sushant Sharma is a student based in New Delhi)

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