Monday, June 18, 2012

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat

Five Point Someone: what not to do at IIT, a novel by Chetan Bhagat. Rupa, 2004. 270p. (8129104598)

This is a best seller in India and the movie adaptation Three Idiots broke box office records in India. I saw the movie (English subtitles) last fall and several friends recommended I read the book.

Five Point Someone is about three friends Hari, Alok and Ryan who are students at IIT (India’s equivalent to MIT) in the early 90’s, but they don’t study very hard their first semester and end up with a five point something GPA (perfect is 10.0). Once the first semester grades come out everyone is labeled by their GPA.

Ryan doesn’t like the system and convinces his friends to enjoy college life. Which doesn’t work out to well for their grades. Hari starts dating Neha Cherian, the daughter of the head of the mechanical engineering department, but secretly because her dad views anyone with low GPA’s in distain.

There isn’t too much of a plot other than each guy is trying to get through IIT and get the magical diploma that guarantees a well paying job thus living up to their parents’ expectations. It’s an interesting look at higher education in India and into the minds of non-Christian college guys.

I have never read a book with so much bad language (plenty of f- and d- words), so much drinking, weed smoking and mention of porn viewing. Prof Cherian was right in not wanting his daughter to socialize with IIT students. Such perverted minds. Ick. Hari had a hard time understanding Neha and I had to laugh when he was puzzled that a girl could cry about two very different things at once.

I wouldn’t recommend the book but the movie is interesting and for westerners gives a better idea of life in India. One warning, there’s one hazing scene and one dance scene where a whole lot of guys are in briefs or boxers. :P

Movie and book differences:
The movie is a loose adaptation that covers the guy’s college years and then where they are ten years later. The book is only about their college years. The characters have different names. The movie’s plot is richer and more interesting. No “R” rated scenes in the movie (there’s one in the book but few details are told) although there is a kiss which is unusual in Bollywood films and like I said earlier a whole bunch of guys in briefs and boxers.

A clip from the movie that characterizes Ryan/Rancho’s view of school:

Subhash K. Jha (film critic and author of The Essential Guide to Bollywood) states: "It's not that 3 Idiots is a flawless work of art. But it is a vital, inspiring and life-revising work of contemporary art with some heart imbued into every part. In a country where students are driven to suicide by their impossible curriculum, 3 Idiots provides hope. Maybe cinema can't save lives. But cinema... can make you feel life is worth living. 3 Idiots does just that, and much more." (From Wikipedia)

If you really want to read it: Find it at a library near you; Buy it from B&N; (Updated 9/9/12: Buy it from Amazon)
Go watch it! Buy it from B&N;  IMDB info

Disclosure: I borrowed this book through ILL. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  1. Education system in India has come of age.I mean if we look back at early 90s, there used to limited number of universities. But now, evertwhere it's wild fire.I mean, primary or higher education in India should not be comprised as well with institutes & private colleges mushrooming everywhere...

    1. Thanks for stopping by Woodpeckie! I can well believe that higher education in India has expanded and grown in the past twenty years. There are almost an equal number of Indian students as Chinese students at the local university.

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    1. Thanks amhash! Visit as often as you like! Happy reading.


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