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Rendezvous > Chetan
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He’s the man who has added blockbuster to the books. A youth icon, he has made reading ‘cool’ to the masses. The Time magazine has slated him among the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Meet Chetan Bhagat, the author who has inspired many a youngster to rediscover the joy of reading while opening a whole new vista to the urban Indian.

At a casual glance, it’s easy to lose Chetan Bhagat in a crowd. Unassuming and modest, Bhagat is patience on a pedestal as he interacts with the throng of women hurling questions at supersonic speed. Calmly, he answers in his comic style, poses for pictures and at the same time, has the crowd guffawing loudly with his witty interludes.

Odd one out
Life, for Chetan Bhagat, is all about breaking the stereotypes and following his heart, into the midst of oblivion, if need be. A house husband (as he proudly calls himself), his decision to quit a lucrative investment banking career after an IIT/IIM graduation to become an author has raised many an eyebrow. But Bhagat explains, “I love being a house husband and I love seeing my kids grow up. I am the only guy from my IIT/IIM batch who is doing this and it is very frustrating at times. It’s very thankless job and nobody values it. But, I love it because it’s a new life and it’s definitely not what I thought I’d have especially after I went to IIT. I feel very lucky to have it all”.
Breaking into the big league
Talk about his explosive style of writing bordering on the satire, Bhagat chuckles. “I liked entertaining people and I would be the most engrossing person at a dinner party. I wrote my first novel, Five Point Someone as a hobby. I had no idea that it would take off, become so big and be made into a movie. More than any literary talent, I think I have the ability to entertain. And, I never knew I would be entertaining millions of people. It was like I almost stumbled upon it. It was not a plan and there was no precedent before me. Now that I have it, I want to make the most of it”, he says, strongly.
Fictional reality
Bhagat feels that the women in his novels are aggressive for a purpose. Laughing at our confusion, he hastens to demystify, “The women in my novels are not just aggressive but they are extra aggressive. It was a deliberate effort, away from reality. The idea was that girls from small towns are reading my books. So, they have been brought up to believe to conform. And when they meet a character who is very inspiring, who thinks for herself, making her own decisions and her own mistakes too, the fictional character becomes a role model for them. That’s because the fictional character is also a girl from a middle class family who wants to do a lot of things and who has her own opinions. That really changes the way girls think and I think that’s important. And, that’s my bit for the women”.
Celluloid translations
An author extraordinaire, Bhagat extended his quirky writing styles to scripts in Bollywood. His eyes gleam with excitement as he tells us, in his soft spoken manner, about all that’s keeping him busy these days. “I have just finished a movie script for a romantic film. In fact, after my novel Two States, I wanted to write for movies. So, I am also a script writer now and have been writing scripts for the past one year”. After Five Point Someone was made into a blockbuster film 3 Idiots, Bhagat’s 3 Mistakes of My Life is all set to be translated on celluloid. An excuted Bhagat adds, “The 3 Mistakes of My Life will be directed by Abhishek Kapoor of Rock On fame while Farhan Akhtar is producing it. And, I have done the script for this film”.
The next bestseller
We wonder, is there a novel on Bollywood on the cards? Bhagat laughs, “I may write a book about Bollywood someday but not right now. I am in the industry right now and I am still trying to make it there. And, because I am in it right now, I don’t want to open a can of worms. Now, I think I will get back to my books”. On the subject of books, the inevitable question about his next paperback arises. “I have not started working on my next novel yet. A novel is a creative takeoff but there should be some sort of deadline to it. But I am hoping that by next Diwali, it should be out”, he signs off, in his signature style.
Rapid fire with Chetan Bhagat
1, On being a house husband: I like it. I know there is a judgment that comes as some of my banker friends still wonder as to what I am doing with my life, sitting at home, writing, managing the maids and the kids after graduating from IIM/IIT? Anything which counters to the stereotype comes with its own problems. Like, what do you do in the afternoons? (Laughs) But, I keep myself busy and I get out of the house, out of Bombay, meet people, find out about all the good work they are doing. Ultimately, what matters is that you like what you do and you’re not lying to yourself!

2, My inspiration: The Indian youth! I find so many different facets to them and that where the various stories come from. They inspire me to write and I keep on uploading their lives.

3, My favourite authors: I like to read books which are simple yet have had an impact. George Orwell’s 1984 is my favourite apart from the works of Charles Dickens and Hemmingway.

4, To the young Indians, I’d say: Believe in yourself and pursue your goals with a lot of hard work. But, in this quest, don’t forget the society. You can’t be too selfish. Being driven doesn’t mean to be selfish. Live for yourself but spare some thoughts to others. Anybody who is looking to climb up shouldn’t forget the people below you.

5, The characters I identify with: The first person character in all my books are me at different stages of my life.

6, A typical day in the life of Chetan Bhagat: I wake up, send the kids to school, send the wife to office, go to gym, come back, try and write for a while, look at all my emails, pick the kids back and spend time with them. That’s pretty much the routine.
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