It is on page 271 that we first discover that Zara Lone, the most important character in The Girl in Room 105, around whose case the whole story revolves also has a grandmother, who for some reason never made an appearance before this. Even more interestingly, she never appears to say a dialogue even after her mention.
This, in a nutshell, describes Chetan Bhagat’s focus on detail while writing this crime thriller or as he calls it, an unlove story.
The story is about Keshav Rajpurohit, in mid-20s, son of a senior RSS member, trying to get over his ex-girlfriend, Zara Lone, a Kashmiri, whom he broke up with four years back. On the night of her birthday, he gets a text from her saying that she misses him and wants him back. Just like any other guy craving for a sight of her ex, he goes to wish her along with his best friend, Saurabh, who lives the same shitty life as Keshav, in her IIT hostel (Bhagat’s fascination with IIT is not going anywhere anytime soon), only to discover that she is dead. Seeing this, Keshav takes it on himself to find out who killed the girl he so madly loved.
One thing about Bhagat that must be appreciated here is how he takes a big risk of writing a thriller as opposed to his prefered genre i.e romance. But the problem that still remains is the way he narrates his story.
Bhagat relies too heavily on dialogues, at no point, it feels as if he is focusing on detail (as was mentioned in the beginning). And the requirement is not for some unnecessary detail but anything that makes the reader invested in the story, to get into that zone.
Saurabh who is constantly by the side of his best friend is used merely as a prop to make the readers understand what Keshav is thinking, this clarifies the need for a dialogue-heavy story. On the other hand, there is a bromance that plays out between the two friends which often times doesn’t work out the way it should have and ends up being too much to handle.
This time the story is being narrated to Bhagat by the protagonist himself while he is on his on a ‘boring’ flight. This is an interesting way to tell a story but I guess it was probably done to get away with the consequences that he might face if the book doesn’t work out. He could simply say that it is not his story!
A part of the story takes place in Srinagar in Kashmir but, Bhagat easily gets away with not discussing the Kashmiri politics at all by making it a rule for his protagonist to not bring up the politics while talking to Kashmiris. This came as a huge setback for me as I was really interested in knowing what he felt about the Kashmir issue. Not just this but Keshav being the son of an RSS member plays out as nothing more than a plot device.
This is no secret that Bhagat has a very strong mass following which makes him title himself as ‘India’s Biggest Storyteller’ and he is the reason why so many Indians started reading. But the problem begins when he is not interested in taking his readers to a next level. Now that he has got so many people to read English literature, he must also take up the responsibility to expose them to better content and this can simply happen if he works on the quality of his way of narrating stories.
In an attempt to craft a different story with The Girl in Room 105, Bhagat ends up creating something which has been attempted often times in the past. And like a character says at one point in the book, “I have a problem in life, uncle. I have always found it hard to “just move on”,” and that, I guess is the problem with India’s biggest storyteller as he gives us a story with too many dialogues with too little detail.
I’m going with 1.5 out of 5.