Monday, 1 October 2012

Changing Dynamics of Love and Marriage in Chetan Bhagat’s ‘2 States’

Garima Singh Baghel

The Indian Society of today largely derives its attitude to life and the world at large, from the broad cultural frame work suggested in the old texts. The frame work was suggestive and flexible. The two principles of quality of life and the individual freedom were at the heart of their message. These were addressed to the society at large including its sub-cultures.
The India of today is the land of changes.As noble laureate Amartya Sen has said:  “If time can change India, then India can change the times.”
                Marriage has always been a crucially significant part of the Indian society. The Changing times have have greatly influence the marriage trends existing in the society. The last two decades has seen a tremendous drift in morals and values inherent in the Indian society. Chetan Bhagat is one of the most popular contemporary Indian English novelist. As a writer, he is gifted with an extraordinary ability to deal with various aspects of human life. His popularity as a writer rests basically on his intimate understanding of human nature. He has been hailed as the most popular author who has grappled with this issue in his novels. He is the biggest selling Indian author in English. 2 States reinforces that Bhagat’s storyline in all his previous undertaking has a touch of autobiographical element but this time he is more deliberate and open though as a disclaimer he asks his readers to also look at it as a work of fiction. Dedicated as he says, “The first time in the history of books” to his in-laws. It is a clear page turner, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
2 States published in 2009, narrates the story of his marriage. He has also added it with the title of the novel. Among the five different acts, the largest act is in Chennai where krish is to convince Ananya’s parents. The writer also suggests inner expeession of krish which is the one of the important part of the story. While his stay in Chennai he compares Tamil people with many physical features found in Chennai He writes: “Tamil women, all of them, wear flowers in their hair. Tamil men don’t believe in pants and wear lungis even in shopping districts”. (pg:77)
The text relates the account of Krish form Punjab and Ananya from Chennai both meet each other in IIM Ahmedabad hostel. Krish, engineer from Delhi IIT, only son of family enriched with various household conflicts and quarrel on every moment since last twenty years, while Ananya, university topper in Economics, a beautiful girl where writer terms Ananya as beautiful above average. From their first meeting in mess, both Krish and Ananya got familiar to each other. Though Ananya wanted relation as ‘just friend’
But they happened to be trapped in each other’s love in no time. Till they get MBA and job placed they had spend lots of moment together where they decide about getting married with permission of parents but this is where the real drama starts. He said:  “And we thought our love is enough reason for us to get married. We thought our parents will meet at the Convocation and things will be smooth. Well, we were wrong.”(pg 182)
In the Convocation ceremony of their graduation form B- school, Ananya’s parents are badly frightened of Krish’s mother and vice-versa. Because of being of different states, their parents’s feelings and life style does not match with each other. Their parents are established in their own ethnicity. After reaching home, both the parents want their children to marry inside their caste. But infinite familiarity between two lovers makes them determined that they will try convincing each other’s parents form all the best.
Ananya got a job in HLL which posted her on Chennai. On this way Krish chooses the branch option of Citibank as his job on Chennai and goes there to convince Ananya’s parents. He faces lots of problems in the Tamil society, and in Ananya’s family. In Chennai the most important work of Krish was to impress his would be in-laws. He helped Ananya’s father make his presentation, gave IIT tutions to Ananya’s brother and organised a concert for her mother who was practicing carnatic music. In this way Ananya’s side was impressed with Krish and the Chennai party was ready. At the back cover of the novel Chetan Bhagat gives the summary of the novel: “Love marriage around the world is simple: Boy loves girl, girl loves boy and they get married. But in India, there are a few more steps:
Boy loves girl, girl loves boy.
Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.
Girl’s family has to love boy’s family.
Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.
Girl and boy still love each other. They get married.”
The only problem they face is they don’t want to run away from their families, they want to convince them to give their blessing. Because they believe a solemn occasion like marriage needs to involve their entire families. The novelist writes: “We could have run away. We could have forced our decision on you. However, Ananya told me she had this dream of both sets of parents smiling on our wedding day. And so, I want to see if we can do that.” (pg: 183)
Now this was the time for Ananya to impress her would be in-laws. They both went to Delhi in krish’s cousin sister’s marriage. There with her wits and management skills Ananya saved the marriage by sorting out the problem of dowry. The whole family was impressed with this IIM girl. Now both the families were ready to accept the boy and girl, but again the things went wrong. Krish and Ananya planned a family visit to Goa where both the familes will meet. Krish’s family included his mother only as his father was not interested in his family. Krish’s mother insulted Ananya’s family and all progress came back to zero. Even Ananya got angry with the insult of her family. The situation was brought under control by Krish’s father who will then was presented as the biggest villain but suddenly be became the hero. He apologized for his wife’s bad behavior and finally the two states married each other.
The novel recounts the experiences of two lovers, but the novelist himself has clearly shown the current status of Indian society. Each other society has been compared from their own selfish views.The society means people of two states. The novelist reflects the thoughts and emotions of the youth but for the fact that he gets across to all kinds of people irrespective of their political or social ideologies in life. 2 States is the novel where the author very humorously tongue-in-cheek kind of manner portrays the little prejudices that we tend to harbour and throw back at the world. Especially when it is an inter-caste, inter-community or inter-state marriage.
In Indian cross-cultural marriages are still looked upon critically let alone an inter-state marriage. Added to that Punjabis are markedly different from Tamilians; flamboyance and easy attitude while Tamilians for their discipline, decorum and reticence. However the couple in question are exceptions and are in love. They choose the difficult path of winning over the hearts of their parents and seek their blessings instead of eloping.
Krish’s family is ignoring Ananya as their ‘bahu’ because Ananya is from the ‘black skin society’. Krish’s mother wants her son to marry Punjabi girl because she desires large amount of dowry from girl’s family. She wants her own house. Matter of prestige among her relation is one of the main cause in which she dont want to loose. Ananya’s family is ignoring krish because they also want their own customs to be fulfilled and practiced in their society. Chetan Bhagat has always tried to say something through his novels and in 2 states, under the Camouflage of a sweet love story almost Bollywoodish, he hits hard at Indians over their austere attitude to cross-cultural, inter-state love marriages.
2 States, a self proclaimed autobiography, is a hillarious yet thought provoking take on the difficulties that arise in ‘arranging a love marriage’ between a couple belonging to different communities and especially, coming form different states (North India and South India). Logic states that this shouldn’t really be big issue in post-modern India, especially with the kind of intermingling between people from all over the country and the increasing professional lives that most ‘intelligentsia’ lead. But just a little scratch beneath the surface reveals it all-we Indians are still far from reaching that truly cosmopolitan state of mind that is open to tolerance, change and compromise.
The novel is loaded with wit and humour too, with plenty of comic situations, funny anecdotes and comic one-liners, as also the expected satirical jabs on the way the present Indian society thinks and work. However, Bhagat’s dig at racism though sarcastic and direct is humourous and witty: “Marble flooring is to a Punjabi what a foreign degree is to a Tamilian” (pg 124). One just can’t help but feel the agony and frustration of his protagonists as they go through the ups and downs of a seemingly task that gaining the acceptance from each other’s families proves to be. Having to face cultural difference is common in India with couples in love and as a youth icon Bhagat truly delivers as his characters are totally identifiable.
Both the protagonists take turns to convince each other’s parents because they believe a solemn occasion like marriage needs to involve their families.  Krish also gets four gold rings for the entire family of the girl; after all it is a huge project he is embarking on. Krish is not the usual Punjabi boy, neither is Ananya, probably the credit goes to IIM Ahmedabad. “In an Indian love marriage by the time everyone gets on board, one wonders if there is any love left”. (pg:224).
The point of the story is to show how the stark differences in India get painfully highlighted on a joyous occassion like marriage. It also points out how love can conquer all the trivialities, as also how intelligent IIM guys are but how their well-paying jobs terribly suck. In that, Bhagat is talking to the countless lovelorn Indians who have been left heartbroken because of their family ‘izzat’. He even says it is inspired by his own experiences and well he is happily married to a Tamil Brahmin Indian who is actually fair. It’s a pop effort to address a contemporary issue and Bhagat pulls it off successfully. The lesson is delivered in the epilogue with his twins as Krish says, “They will be from a state called India”. (pg: 269)
In conclusion what he wrote there, it is normally what people of one state thinks about other, and this is the place where Indian society has to be improved. The novelist has shown the realistic discrimination which occurs in Indian society where one state people thinks other state people as people of different world. The twist in the story is, they want to marry with their parents’s consent rather than choosing the easy way of eloping. Inter-caste marriages are still a taboo in India and let alone an inter-state marriage of a Punjabi and a Tamil Brahmin. The story is about how youngistan fights oldistan to get the approval of marriage. He has also shown the culture of dowry, high expense of marriage and traditional concept which he thinks there is a need of change.
In ‘2 States; the story of my marriage’, Bhagat manages to write about things which concern the youth of today’s India-money, love, marriage and education.He touches a chord among the young Indians who are going through an identity crisis as they battle with old convictions and new experiences. The novel explores the hassles; a couple has to undergo to get their ‘inter-state love marriage’ accepted by their families.  It is a very best examples of showing two states, he is sharing the lesson to people that one has to be introduced as Indian not according to their region or religion.
Work Cited
Bhagat, Chetan. 2 States. New Delhi: Rupa Co., 2009.
Garima Singh Baghel
Research Scholar, Department of English

Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi