Revolution 2020: Love, Corruption, Ambition is a 2011 novel by Chetan Bhagat. Its story is concerned with a love triangle, corruption and a journey of self-discovery.
The author has stated that the novel is based on the “rampant corruption” apparent in the Indian youth educational system, with the choice of Varanasi as a setting emerging through “a special connection to the city” following his visit. He further stated that “it is one of our oldest cities, and people there now have modern aspirations. I thought the contrast would be interesting. The city also has a lot of characters.”
Set in the holy city of Varanasi, Revolution 2020 is the story of three childhood friends – Gopal, Raghav and Aarti. Gopal and Raghav are childhood friends, whereas Aarti is Gopal’s closest friend and love interest. Gopal is from a poor family, Raghav, a middle class family, and Aarti’s family is from a bureaucratic and political background. The three friends hold their own ambitions in life, with Gopal seeking financial wealth, Raghav wanting global political change and Aarti aspiring to work as an air hostess. After failing both the IIT-JEE (Indian Institution of Technology Joint Entrance Exam) and AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) exams, Gopal is forced to move to Kota, the so called “capital of coaching classes” to undertake them again. However, Raghav scores very well in his exams and joins the IIT-BHU as a way to fulfill his dream of bringing revolution to India as a journalist. In Kota Gopal is completely surprised when he learns that Aarti and Raghav have formed a romantic bond and consequently develops problematic habits, disrupting his life. Due to the emotional difficulties brought on by his friends’ relationship, Gopal again fails to pass the AIEEE. Gopal’s father cannot bear his son’s repeated failure and eventually dies, leaving Gopal an orphan. Due to past debts totalling nearly 2 lakhs, Gopal makes a deal with a MLA, Shukla, to start an engineering college on his father’s disputed land. Gopal becomes director of the new college and proceeds to learn about a corrupt educational system, the workings of which he eventually accepts. Meanwhile, Raghav finishes his engineering studies and becomes a trainee reporter for a popular newspaper, “Dainik”. He begins publishing all of Shukla’s wrongdoings like the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) scam worth 20 crore which gives a bad reputation to Gopal’s college. Illegal re-zoning of land controversy cause some damage to GangaTech college. Shukla gets Raghav sacked but Raghav starts his own newsletter called Revolution 2020. He publishes an article about the Ganga Treatment Scam and proves that Shukla is a corrupt man. Shukla is forced to resign. Aarti develops a deeper friendship with Gopal and starts spending time with him as Raghav had no time for her. She acquires the job of a Guest Relationship Manager at the newly formed Ramada Hotel. Gopal invites Aarti there and reveals his love for her and they have sex. Gopal finally succeeds in winning her over. He want to go to Raghav’s office to tell him that Aarti is no longer his and that he had become a more successful man in spite of being uneducated.
However, before he actually meets Raghav, he meets a young boy Keshav who according to Gopal resembles him in his childhood. It is then that he realizes that he and Keshav were the same but the only difference between them was that he himself had given in to the corrupt system but Keshav still possessed his innocence. He realizes that Raghav is the better man and vows to make amends. So, on Gopal’s birthday when Aarti comes to tell Gopal that she also loves him always, not Ragav, Gopal brings two prostitutes to make Aarti believe that the girls are with Gopal. Then Aarti leaves the house leaving the birthday gift for Gopal she brought – a scrapbook – and Gopal allows Raghav to get married to her. Then Gopal opens the scrapbook and sees that Aarti confesses her love for him there. A heartbroken Gopal thinks that in spite of the fact that he and Aarti love each other, Raghav’s love and life will make Aarti more happy in life.
In a deeper thought it is also been given that Gopal loved Aarti more but he had to let her go off for good. He was taking all the pain himself for Aarti and Raghav’s better future, so that Raghav may bring in a revolution in this corrupted world. A famous quote from the novel is “Life is a bitch when the only woman you can think of belongs to someone else”.