Book Review: Revolution 2020

October 12, 2011 9:50 am by

Like a Michael Bay blockbuster, a Chetan Bhagat novel is defiant of structural norms (whether plot- or grammar-wise), implausibly stupid (watch the latest Transformers to know what we mean), and guaranteed to make boatloads of money despite what the crabby naysayers think about it. Wade in, then, at your own peril, because if you’re a fan of Rushdie, Roy, Mistry or Ghosh, then you’ll emerge 296 pages later, doubtlessly depressed at the ways of the world that allow for Bhagat to be the country’s best-selling literary star.

In Bhagat’s latest, Revolution 2020—about the current topic du jour, corruption—language, plot, character development and just about anything that vaguely defines what makes a good book (but only to elitist prigs, of course) take a back seat to the notion that the author is a weather-vane for current youth sentiment. That sentiment is the pervasive feeling that our education system is corrupt. Add to this a prologue and epilogue of such incredible conceit and you have another best-seller in the making.

The novel begins with Bhagat visiting GangaTech college in Varanasi to deliver a speech. There, he meets Gopal, the 26-year-old protagonist, whose sole purpose, it soon becomes clear, is to try and ply Bhagat with drinks so he can deliver this line: “Chetan sir, one drink? I can tell people I had a drink with ‘the’ Chetan Bhagat.” Somehow, Bhagat ends up accompanying the self-indulgent, sniveling Gopal to hospital after he over-binges, on Glenfiddich of all things. Gopal survives of course, so he can recount to Bhagat his life story. The life story, predictably, is a love story, or rather a love triangle involving Gopal, and childhood friends Raghav and Aarti. Gopal is poor, Raghav is middle class and Aarti well-off, each meant to neatly represent the background to which they belong. As is wont to happen with a trio of friends, one (Gopal) falls in love with another (Aarti), who professes her love for the third (Raghav). So far, so average.

Soon, however, Gopal, in his vengeful quest to show Aarti that he’s a better man than Raghav (spoiler alert: he’s not), becomes embroiled in a shady nexus of MLAs and educators, who want Gopal to start a university—that would be GangaTech—so it can whitewash their black money. Cue moral story about the unethical nature of coaching classes that prep students for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE); doing the right thing; and the cost of sacrifice and familial duty. Bhagat may have lashed out at Narayana Murthy for saying that coaching classes have led to the deterioration of the quality of IIT- and IIM-produced students, but his book perplexingly suggests exactly the same thing. So either Bhagat doesn’t believe what he espouses, or quite possibly, forgot what he wrote in the first place. After all, he started writing it almost two years ago.

The language, incidentally, functional and capable of getting across its point, is not the worst part of the book (though bon mots like “‘Fine’ means somewhere between ‘whatever’ and ‘go to hell’ in Girlese” and “Girls are contradictory” border on being nonsensical). Its weakest link is that all three protagonists are inherently unlikable—it’s not quite clear what Aarti has going for her except her looks; Gopal is weaselly, stupid and self-obsessed; and Raghav, an incredibly naïve journalist who writes worse copy than Bhagat himself. But bad reviews will do little to affect the sales figures of Revolution 2020. At the end of the novel, Bhagat tells Gopal that he’s a good person, presumably for—whoops, second spoiler alert—sacrificing love, and the implication is that it’s okay to be mediocre as long as you make money. Bhagat may well have been talking about himself.

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat, Rupa, Rs140. Buy it from Flipkart.com.

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Comments (133)

  1. SONAM SHARMA |

    i think it is this time u r in so hurry to finsih the story i mean its little bit shooking and diappointing for me.
    i just love the ‘LOVE OF GOPAL FOR AARTI’ its was pure although raghav is also a nice guy but i love gopal he hs to marry with someone plzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
    and now Mr. CB you are awsome i love to read you always from five piont to R2020. Like you soooo much keep writting for us .

  2. ajay |

    I think it is the bestest creation from chetan bhagat sir.
    yes i calls them sir bcoz they are identical for all youths …
    I have readed all of his novels and think that Revolution 2020 is the best among them …
    Gopal’s sacrifice reflects her depth of love for aarti and changes his image from villain to a real hero.
    I consider his a hero bcoz most of hero doesn’t shows his contribution like gopal in revolution…
    The most loveliest part of the is when gopal at ramada hotel during aartis wedding it really cathes my mind most…
    Great work from chetan bhagat sir.

  3. Saurabh sthir yadav |

    I am from varanasi. And the story n plot invented by Mr. Bhagat is totally pathetic. He has very rightly discussed about the negative things about our city but failed to described about the positive one’s. I think he visited varanasi to gather some filthy n negative image of our city so that he can create masala n nonsense for his story to get success. Yes those points which he raised were absolutly true but the manner in which he express them seems that he is specifically criticising varanasi’s administration only n as if rest of the country is free of corruption.

  4. New Yorker |

    Chetan Bhagat is an achiever and r2020 is a book par excellence. All his detractors should try writing a small story before they even start talking about him. He said he would write another book after 5 pt someone was stolen fr a movie and he did it! R2020 is at par with his first book. Feel free to disagree but people who hate cb are losers who can’t be like him self. And those who love him, let’s wait fr his 6th book. Love ur words cb!

  5. darshika |

    i had just completed d book…..
    gopal as a person is a good man indeed, aarti a new gen. girl, raghav as a noble and an honest guy….!!
    i am a big fan of chetan bhagat….!!! loved all his book…
    even dis book….
    it is a fantastic novel…. i cried tonnes of times, chetan bhagat know how to attract d readers…. ;) well iliked each sense of the book.. the character of GOPAL..,the honesty nd spirit of RAGHAV was the best in dis book….
    i no some of them dint liked the ending but actully the starting nd the ending was the best… its is similar to the indian bollywood movies but if u see in the real life it actully happens… those who do true love understand what there love wants nd who will b the best one for them…. so we must accept that not every love story has a happy ending….. :)
    i loved the book… great work… chetan ji…!!! :) love u <3 <3

  6. Ankit |

    Good novel. I don’t know why you people do not liked it. A fantastic novel. I liked

  7. TULSI THAKER |

    gud book… but m not happy wit the ending… i completed the book in one day itself but while sleeping the thoughts of the book kept me wondering…. whom did aarti love actually??? she’s happy wit raghav then she goes to gopal then gets married to raghav n is living happily…….. and how come raghav doesn’t even come to knw abt aarti n gopal’s relation……. still my mind is engrossed in thinking abt the book… i think gopal should get his love for it was due to aarti’s behavior and her that he could nt study or not think of anyonle else than her….. he made a big mistake by calling those call girls at his place…………. thats the price h had to pay for…….. HIS BIGGEST MISTAKE

  8. Bharity |

    i like the author attempt to make realize his readers about corruption and other faults in our system which are now running as general things in our system .but i can say that Gopal heart breaking love story is the only thing dominated the main topic ‘Revolution 2020′ in this story.after reading i stopped thinking about revolution and started thinking about his tragedy life.
    i dont want any of his story to be real.
    he deserves better.
    OF COURSE HE IS A GOOD MAN.

  9. wangmo |

    i also really liked dis novel especially Gopal character. But i hate Aarti becz she knew he loves her but still he ignored Gopal n considered him only as a gud frn..at last she became her galfrn but she only judge him outside rathr dan the inner n becz of that she never knew how much he loved her…at the end bz of her Gopal life became worst n finally he was admitted in the hospital…I saw dis type of cases in real life n i noticed some of boys did dis becz of her beloved one…i really like ur novels sir..TKE CRE

  10. Kena |

    Ma 1st n da bst novel;)

  11. lakshmi |

    I didn’t like the ending particularly because Gopal had played with Aarti’s emotiion. He took advantage of aarti’s confusion and later to get his conscience cleared, he played a game so that Aarti leaves him herself. Aarti had been a better friend for him than he had been for aarti.

  12. ashok |

    well its really a good story,while reading i just went into it as if i knw them very well.its a rockng love triangle story.

  13. Nandan |

    Simply Loved It .. . Gopal has been portrayed exceptionally Fantabulous.. .

  14. Raman |

    Chetan it’s really awesome…plz “flyingAarthi ” try to understand Gopal’s Love :)

  15. Arvind |

    Good Book … Spent the entire afternoon of May 1 Holiday reading the book. Fast paced Story – talking about the youth of today and their aspirations. Do not read if you are into reading classics- with the flowery English and stuff.

  16. Ansila |

    chetan, your book REVOLUTION 2020 is a very good novel, but comparing your other novels, this is not that much nice…………but still you have done it well.
    The climax was not good, you should not give climax sad….poor gopal…he is a very good man

  17. jai gohil |

    Hi chetan sir,
    I had read your book revolution 2020.and it is really heart touching book.u had worked hard but all readers are not happy with the climaxe.but we all are happy with the character of gopal because of his secrifice in age of 24 year..skip the climaxe afterall you rock..

  18. Bala Dutt |

    I want to know that is this novel story is real or a fictitious one.
    Frankly speaking i was chocked up by going through the last few chapters
    and of course ” I AGREED GOPAL MISHRA IS A GOOD MAN”.

  19. sandhya |

    thts was a nice i really love it but ending was sad very disopointed with hte ending.

  20. LOOK AT THE ABOVE COMMENTS SIR…EVERYONE IS WITH GOPAL..PLZZ SIR IN UR FUTURE BOOKS DONT END THE STORIES LIK TIS…IT REALLY HURTS…!!
    CAN U PLZZ TELL K IS GOPAL REAL OR ITS JUST A CHATACTER….I NO IT MIGHT SOUND VRY UNCOMMON BT I DO HAV A ATTACHMNT WITH GOPAL…..U REALLY MADE ME CRY…..CZ I TO LUV MY ANGEL A LOT N I NO WEN LUV IS LOST WHAT IS LOST..!!

  21. sir u really rock…revolution 2020…a superb novel sir…it really made me cry at the end….seriously sir gopal is really a nice man….wat he did is really vry hard…i to lost my gf n i no how much it hurts…seriously sir if they would b in real i would have made ol the attempts to meet Gopal……n Aarti too….she shuold hav askd him y he did so at the end…..ten she might hav realised his love…its a reques sir plz dont mind but don’t end the stories lik tis..!!! it really hurts som ppl..!!! ones again congs for such a nice novel…u realy rock yaar…:)
    aarti plz do realise gopal’s luv…!!

  22. PHANEENDRA |

    Really Nice book… Hats of to you Mr. Gopal, but i would have really loved to see you and Arti together, because you could have done all those things much better than Raghav to bring the change (Revolution 2020)

  23. SNIGDHA |

    ausum book….i jst want to know gopal mishra’s original name….i jst love this character bt he shouldnt hv sacrificed his love….

  24. Nishant Mishra |

    Hi chetan,

    i have read your Revolution 2020, when i have started readin your this book i thought i’ll complete it in a wk..
    but i got evrythin quite interestin, and so real so i have completed it juz one day, i’m from varanasi, right now i’m in delhi, and this book drag me to ma home town while readin, Amazin story, asusuall great writin skills(that drag me to ma fav place varanasi), and i agree with what people are sayin about gopal, in the end he should get about what he dreamd from his childhood.

    Thanks alot CB, keep goin, i’d like to watch dis novel as film.

  25. Abhisht verma (medical student) |

    The book revolution2020 realised me the actual situation of metrocities and my India….A huge passion for IIt jee..Well I felt that this book has mentioned more about that any competition exams is difficult,,,,this will influence every competition aspirent in neggetive mannner….The rest is funtestice……..chetan

  26. arundev |

    it is a good book. i enjoyed reading it .thanks chetan for writing a wonderful book like this.

  27. manu |

    i dono abt others but to me r2020 is really a good book… i like the character of GOPAL… really touching when he sacrficed at the end… the best character… actually am a 1 side love person like gopal… i started weeping at the end… the book deals about love as wel as a revolution corruption… chetan took the story well… love and social issue together… expecting stories like this from your further books chetan…

  28. Shashank |

    Great book !!! But did not like the ending gopal should not have sacrifice his 8 years love just due to one night dream.

  29. Gayathri |

    Hi Chetan,

    Am crazy about your books, but from last to first.. i started with Revolution 2020 and ended with five point someone.. Really nice to read and urge to complete fastly leaving all my works, even tilll night…

    one requet not to use f.. words so frequently in ur books..
    thanks

  30. Haha I couldnt stop laughing after reading the comments here..

    Three words thats all I have for this book Cheap-Cheasy-Corny…

    What else can you expect, It’s Chetan Bhagat… :P

    No Offence meant to anyone; Please dont read Chetan Bhagat- You have lots of talented indian writers out there who writes better fiction; Dont downgrade the reader in you.

    Try Arnab Ray – The Mine

  31. Tune |

    If it had a different end then wat difference it would make from any other usual love story….. i feel that is the essence which gives us that feeling for days.. an appreciation for Gopal’s strive to success and to Chetan Bhagat who made this wonderful book. i just couldnt put this book down until i had finished it…..

  32. Dheeraj |

    Completed today R2020 widin 10 hours..i was supposed to write more ,but really it had been very tough climax and ending as far as love for a life is concerned.i really showed that evry youth has to sacrifice for the revolution but that doesn’t mean losing a gal which he had been dreaming of day and night..really got depressed bt the ending you hv given to gopal’s character,,he deserved aarti more than anyone,,hope u will soon launch its sequel to justify with gopal..bt i really lykd the book,,it glued me till the end bt it must hv been a diffrent end…

  33. Divyesh |

    I started reading R2020 three days ago.
    I spend my all time after my collage to read this book and now at 2 a.m in the clock , i have just complete it..and start searching on net about story…
    I like story very much rather than its end…
    Its end is so different than other love story..
    Which kind of person Mr. Gopal Mishra is?
    who make so many sacrifies on his 24 th age!!!
    I salute u Mr. Gopal Mishra ( directer saheb )

  34. MOHIT KUMAR |

    its a nyyc book.
    amust read. chetan bhagat HATS OFF2 U

  35. Ankit |

    it was fantastic. their sacrifices, the love story …..everything
    the ending should have been more nice.

  36. gaurav |

    its a pathetic book. . . Cb could have written better. . . Bt it showed that he still has to mature as author. The part where gopal called call girls was somewhat similar to sum hindi movie. . . He must write realistic books. Esp after 2 states. . .

  37. Amanpreet singh ghura |

    when i was reading Revolution2020 i made a mind that i will talk to u after completion. I have lots to think and share but when i ended Revolution2020,i don’t know what to write.I didn’t like the end you gave to Gopal.How is this possible,it left the entire charm of the story.Do u have any plans to make a sequel of Revolution2020,it seems incomplete and impractial. I would have written something else but write now i am touched by the ending u gave to gopal,so not in a mood to write anything else,but i will definately write other experience when i come out of it.

  38. sumit bhardwaj |

    i seriously donno understand why d hell u keep on comparing chetan bhagats novels with those of Rushdie, Roy, Mistry or Ghosh . . . for me chetan bhagat is indias best writer as for now(ofcourse premchand in on top of the list) . . . and its numbers keeps on flashing dat.i’ve read all of his books including revolution 2020 . . and the fact to be noted is dat all of his novels includind the last 1 are so interesting dat i’ve finished it in a single day(yesterday thought of starting reading it at 11 only for 2 hours , but once i’ve started i cannot resisit myself from reading it and finally wound up at 5 in the morning) . . . i’ve read a lot of books from both indian and foreign writers but no 1 even cant stand a chance against him when its comes to binding readers till d end of novel . . .

  39. Altaf |

    Bad attempt !!! Weak plot and characters !!! stereo type movie climax !!!!
    Five point someone, one night @ call centre and 2 states are my all time favourite but I was extremely disapponited with R2020. CB failed to do justice with all 3 characters in the book. Raghav was merely portrayed as supporting actor, arti’s character is all confused…at times she is the most naive and honest person…sometime she looks such a shrewd who can take any man for a ride…later you wonder if she is a greedy girl for fame and money….gopal hardly does anything great himslef as he gets a godfather figure shukla ji from nowhere. Most disappointing part is the climax…which is taken from an old 70′s bollywood movie. looks like he was in a great hurry to complete the book….it leaves so many questions un answered….may be he has done so to make R2020…….part 2 :)

  40. Ausum book….hope I could get gopal emailid plus his real name

  41. sachin jaiswal |

    owesome book………
    learn what lyf is………….

  42. Sheriff. |

    The book is awesome and gr8.. but i feel the climax or the finishing point wud b better.. i wonder does the characters in the movie are real or is the gangaTech is a real one.. If so then writing about Aarti doesn’t spoil her name in the present scenario.. lots and lots more of questions arrive if yo think beyond the book after reading it.. But if we don’t think so,it could b the book tat can give u company of even a six hrs of travel in a train :) :) R2020 is not really a revolution but a nice one 2 keep it on our hand.. All credits 2 the author chetan ji..

  43. SANGITA K MISTRY |

    its really a lovely expressions regarding revolution. GOPAL, RAGHAV, AARTI all protagonist dreamt different and ends same viz, REVOLUTION . WITH nice cover page,,,,, amazing story inside,,,,,,,,,,, .BUT I MUST SAY GOPAL SHOULD FOLLOW HIS DREAMS.

  44. SADEKA AERAM |

    i like your book …and you too sir…i have enjoyed allot by reading all your books..

  45. Geeta |

    Its a good book. I have enjoyed reading it !!!

  46. pankaj |

    One Book for Life Success offers so much of wisdom – just awesome

  47. Sameer |

    Its a nice book.. :)

  48. Mukesh |

    Nayantara,

    I agree some parts of your review. My point is, we don’t have enough story writers in India to be compared against. Sure the literati is there, but they write for subset of our countrymen.

    So, till the time competition heats up…..

    Anyways, here’s my take on his book, do read – http://j.mp/r2020review

  49. KANIKA |

    its an amazing story……i started it yesterday…..n olmost cmpleted till midnyt…bt i really got disappointed after gopal’s sacrifice…an unexpected love story…gopal and raghav both r great men…but their sacrifices r so diffrent….i liked it :) n rest is aarti…shes an girl i cn nva understand…. i so love reading you “CHETAN BHAGAT” LOVE . CORRUPTION . AMBITION .

  50. Aastha Awasthi |

    After reading R 2020 I was not at all disappointed after but yes i am disappointed after reading all the reviews. Most of the reviews talk about the weak characters of the story, the love triangle, the twist at the end of the story…. etc.. etc… but i think the best thing in the story that didn’t actually got much attention from the readers was the contribution of every characters towards the Revolution………
    One of the three (Raghav) gives away his well settled carrier which i must say is considered the most valuable thing (at least by a person in Raghav’s age). The other one (Gopal) gives away his love, now most of the people might not agree to me on this part that he gave her away for the sake of revolution, but he (Gopal) did, coz he knew that Raghav was the person who if given opportunity can actually do something for the country, against corruption, for our pathetic education system, the opportunity was marrying the girl. Marrying The Girl (Aarti) was all he (Gopal) dreamed of through out the story but gave her away to the person he hated the most (Raghav) coz that person just needed an opportunity to begin the Reovolution………
    This is all that i got out of the story, I think the most of the people were disappointed coz they had their own perception about the story and most of them just got stuck in the Love triangle but come on guys there are other things to be focused on than Love (specially when apart from being a human being we are Indian)……..
    From my point of view the theme behind the story was “Everyone has to do their bit to change the world” n that is very well revealed by Mr. Bhagat…….
    Very Well Done…………

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