Book Review: ‘Revolution 2020’ by Chetan Bhagat

‘Revolution 2020’, the fifth novel by Chetan Bhagat (after ‘Five Point Someone’, ‘One Night at a Call Centre’, ‘Three Mistakes of my Life’ and ‘Two States’), too begins with a Prologue just like all his other novels. The Prologue binds you to the story as a reader. The only difference is that this time the prologue continues at the end of the novel and the whole story of ‘Revolution 2020: Love, Corruption, Ambition’ is a flashback of the events that have already happened. As a reader, I found the prologue comparatively a bit less effective in evoking a sense of suspense and mystery.
As far as the pace of the story is concerned, the pace of events happening in the first half of the book is fast but they become a bit dragged in the second half. Inspite of this, the greatest achievement of Chetan Bhagat is that he keeps the reader hooked on to his book till the end. Though Chetan Bhagat has none of the literary touches (you’ll be totally disappointed if you are a fan of Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Jhumpa Lahiri or Amitav Ghosh), yet he is a good story-teller. At times the things become predictable, just like it happens occasionally in Bollywood masala flicks. After all, soon ‘Revolution 2020’ would be one amongst them.
At the very onset of the story of the novel, Bhagat visits GangaTech college in the city of Varanasi, where he is to deliver a lecture. The story presents before us a love-triangle, which involves two childhood friends, Raghav and Aarti, and Gopal. As might be expected, Gopal falls in love with Aarti, who instead professes her love for her childhood friend, Raghav. And then in vengeance, Gopal sets out to prove himself better than Raghav. In this venture Gopal entangles himself in educators-MLAs nexus. Thus, Bhagat weaves in a social message along with a masala story.

Book Review: ‘Turbaned Tornado’

Turbaned Tornado: Run, Fauja! Run!
Reviewed by Arcopol Chaudhuri*

Turbaned Tornado is the biography of the oldest marathon runner in the world, Fauja Singh. Fauja’s birth would have been a joke today – his date of birth is 1 April – and having turned 100 this year, he is clearly the celebrated flag-bearer of the Indian and Sikh community globally, having battled ridicule (he was mocked as a Bin-Laden look-alike) and won praise and appreciation (the blondes hug him fully and cheer him along), not just from his community members but also from leaders like Pervez Musharraf and the Queen of England. Fauja is one of the front-runners (excuse the pun) to represent England at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.
The book is fascinating to learn about the incredible courage and spirit of this man and his life story, clearly would also make for a spectacular film.
Singh, in his 100th year, is old enough to sit at home and count his days, but instead chooses to run the most challenging of marathons in Europe to raise money for charity. “I can either walk or sleep. The moment I sit idle, I will die,” he says.
Once a poster boy for Adidas, he truly lives their tagline, ‘Impossible Is Nothing’. What else can explain this peculiar phenomenon: With each passing year, Fauja is beating his every past running records, a feat that seems unbelievable after one takes a fleeting look at his long, skinny legs and frail figure. Look harder and you’ll see a determination worthy of Robert Frost’s poetry. This man indeed has miles to go before he sleeps.
Khushwant Singh, Fauja’s biographer is sincere in capturing what makes Fauja the man he is, through rigorous interviews with him, his coach Harmander Singh and family members.
At a mere 112 pages, this book succeeds in making Fauja’s story far more accessible than a tome. Singh’s narration of the centurion’s life is simple, linear and full of ‘Faujanomics’, a term he’s coined to capture the beliefs of the marathon runner. There’s plenty of trivia that passionate runners and marathon enthusiasts will find handy – like Fauja’s habit of scrubbing his body with baby oil every morning, his absolute disregard for gymnasiums (“they don’t nourish the body and soul together”) and his inexplicable fetish for branded shoes (Puma is the best for marathons, he says).
Some of Singh’s touches are beautiful, e.g. parts where he quotes Fauja in Punjabi. It lends an incredible amount of authenticity to his entire work, besides a touch of wicked humor (“Bush dey chakkar wich tussi baba maar lena hai!”, he says describing an incident when he was about to meet George Bush, but wasn’t satisfied with the food served to him.
If the first half of Turbaned Tornado serves as an inspiration, the concluding half is a handy guide to turn that inspiration to action. There’s a detailed regimen for aspiring marathon runners with instructions about what runners must do on a day-to-day basis to become fit enough and participate with a gusto similar to that of Fauja. This guide will appeal to people across ages and has some incredible learnings.
I certainly recommend that you buy a copy of Turbaned Tornado. It’s an easy read, a meaningful one at that, and doesn’t take long to finish. I like Singh’s attempt at keeping the writing and narration simple and lucid, which incidentally are qualities that resonate with Fauja’s own life. The prescription pages for aspiring long distance runners, are what this book a must-have. That’s almost like getting to know ki Sachin Tendulkar kaunsi chakki ka aata khaata hai.

* Arcopol Chaudhuri lives on a paperback diet. When not reading, he steers online marketing for uRead.com and hunts for authors who have an interesting story to tell.