Thursday, 4 July 2013

An Overdose of Love in Indian Fiction.

Here's just an attempt to decipher why the Indian Fiction shelf in book stores overflows with love, girlfriends and boyfriends?

To sketch the dubious origins of the trend, let us look at Mr. Chetan Bhagat and his first release. An IITian, IIM passout, Writer – the kind of profile that, in golden letters, features in an average Indian parent’s dream. Plus, his book is seemingly about the very place their child is studying hard to get into!  All is well until Mom discovers a couple making out somewhere towards the end of the tale. Apparently, the characters also use abusive language which her child, growing up on highbrow AXN movies, ‘doesn’t have a clue to’. The literary work changes hands and is now with the elder brother. Picture this. You walk into a bookstore and as you gaze appreciatively through the bestsellers and the coffee-table books, you spot the Indian-Fiction bookshelf. Instantly, your thesaurus for ‘love’ shoots up. There are books about love that happened at work, in Engineering and Management colleges, in school and several regular places. This love comes with interesting pictures of popping hearts and skinny girls across the cover. Precisely therefore, you collide head-on with the “Love is in the air” phenomenon. What’s more, it enters with a plethora of corny lines, lovemaking advances, grammatical and punctuation errors.
As the grey-haired would like to call it – the book hits the perfect chord. From brother to friend to several more the world over, Five Point Someone does something unprecedented. With the power of its colloquialism, it draws people in millions. These people don’t just read, they want to give the writing a shot. Since writing a book was about sharing college experiences and you didn’t need fancy thumb rules that authors in ethnic attire swore by, why not write a book of your own? This gave birth to a thousand people screaming “Me too”.

It would be unfair to let the obligation of an era rest entirely on Mr. Bhagat’s shoulders. As also it would be to stereotype all the titles in this, err, series. What he penned down as a possibly harmless, even one-off tale snowballed into the ‘Love is in the air’ phenomenon. If only the proponents had gone easier on the theme – the skimpy girls less pea-brained and the Engineering guys less leering, for instance – the assortment on the shelves would have painted a nobler picture. At the risk of sounding deprecating, the ‘Me Toos’ were experienced at jumping on the college-romance bandwagon. Make sure the college hero lusts after a college heroine and his life nosedives. Throw in a few smooches and rolls in the hay behind the hostel and voila, your book is up on the Indian Fiction bookshelf! When you start running out of cover design templates, just pick some red hearts and pink candy floss dolls.

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