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For the film based on this novel, see Half Girlfriend (film)

Half Girlfriend

First edition
Author Chetan Bhagat
Country India
Language English
Genre Fiction, Romance
Publisher Rupa & Co
Publication date
1 October 2014
Media type Paperback
Pages 280
ISBN 978-81-291-3572-8

Half Girlfriend is an Indian English coming of age, young adult romance novel by Indian author Chetan Bhagat The novel, set in rural Bihar, New Delhi, Patna, and New York, is the story of a Bihari boy in quest of winning over the girl he loves This is Bhagat’s sixth novel which was released on 1 October 2014 by Rupa Publications The novel has also been published in Hindi and Gujarati

Dedicated to “non English-types”, as Chetan Bhagat wrote, the book divulges the sentiments and linguistic struggles of a backward rural Bhojpuri-laced Hindi-speaking boy from Bihar as he enrolls himself at the prestigious English-medium St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and falls in love with a “high class English-speaking rich Delhi girl” schooled at Modern School, New Delhi The girl does not admit the relationship but agrees to be his “half girlfriend” Chetan Bhagat commented, “Half-Girlfriend, to me, is a unique Indian phenomenon, where boys and girls are not clear about their relationship status with each other A boy may think he is more than friends with the girl, but the girl is still not his girlfriend Hence, I thought we needed a term like ‘Half girlfriend’ Because, in India, that is what most men get”


Madhav Jha, a rural boy from Dumraon, a village in Bihar, comes to meet the author, who is actually Chetan Bhagat, and leaves behind a few journals from his half-girlfriend, who he believes has died Chetan Bhagat calls him up the next morning to hear his story He starts by describing his trouble entering St Stephens, as his English wasn’t good enough Being a good basketball player, Madhav gets finally through sports quota

The rich and beautiful Riya Somani is a girl from Delhi, who is also selected through the sports quota Madhav and Riya become close ‘friends’ due to their association with basketball Madhav wants to make her his girlfriend, but she refuses He demands that they get physical Offended by his obscene ultimatum, Riya parts company with him and tells him not to talk to her anymore

A year later, Riya marries her childhood friend Rohan and settles in London, where Rohan has a big business Finding Delhi unbearable on grounds of losing Riya, Madhav decides to settle in his hometown Dumraon and helps his mother, Rani Sahiba, who runs her school Seeing the condition of the school – no proper classes or toilets – Madhav decides to meet local MLA Ojha for financial help, but the MLA refuses to help An opportunity comes when Ojha informs Madhav about Bill Gates’ visit to some schools in Bihar Madhav tries his best to convince Gates to fund his school, but to do so he has to prepare a speech, preferably in English

In the course of his struggle, he comes across Riya, who is now a divorcee Riya helps him prepare the speech They two are successful in their fundraising, but, after the speech, Riya leaves a letter for him which states that she is in the last stage of lung cancer and has only 3 months left to survive Riya’s letter confesses her love for Madhav but states she has three months to live When Madhav attempts to track her down, he finds that she has cut all ties in India and has disappeared

After three years, it is revealed from Riya’s journals that she is alive and that she had faked her cancer Madhav goes in search of her in New York After three months of extensively searching, he finds her at Cafe Wha and the two reconcile and finally consummate their relationship

The book ends with the author visiting the rural school in Dumraon, three and a half years later, and seeing that both Madhav and Riya are successfully running the school, and have a son, Shyam

Main characters

  • Madhav Jha, a guy from Bihar
  • Riya Somani, a rich girl from Delhi
  • Rani Sahiba, Madhav’s mother
  • Shailesh, Madhav’s college friend
  • Rohan Chandak, Riya’s ex-husband and childhood friend
  • Chetan Bhagat, as himself
  • MLA Ojha, from Bihar
  • Erica, a bar singer in New York
  • Samantha Myers, from the Bill Gates Foundation
  • Shyam, Madhav’s son
  • Ghanshyam Ashu, Madhav’s friend from Darbhanga Bihar
  • Bill Gates, as himself


Rituparna Chatterjee of CNN-IBN called it a “massively disappointing book written exclusively for another Bollywood sobfest” Pranav Joshi of Daily News and Analysis called it “old wine in new glass” with a rehashed storyline that promotes negative stereotypes


Main article: Half Girlfriend (film)

The film rights to the novel were sold before it was published A Bollywood film adaptation directed by Mohit Suri and produced by Ekta Kapoor and Bhagat It stars Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor It is the first film produced by Bhagat

Initially the film based on the novel starred Kriti Sanon who inaugurated the book, but was replaced by Shraddha Kapoor The film released on 19 May 2017

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