Millennium Post

‘My books sell’

‘My books sell’
Writing for a large audience
“A writer’s first job is to strike a chord, and not to please elite circles,” he said. “He or she must care for his readers and listen to them. It just cannot about sophisticated language. It is more about what is being said and communicated that strikes a chord.” Chetan strongly believes that the language should be colloquial, since popular fiction deals with dialogue from the streets.

Portraying Writing Style and Characters
Bhagat’s writing style tends to be simple with linear narratives and vivid storytelling. His protagonists tend to be named after avatars of Hindu deities like Vishnu, Ashwani Rana, Hari, Shyam, Govind or Krishna. All his books have a number in their title (e.g. ‘five’ in the first, ‘one’ in the second, ‘three in the third and ‘two’ in the fourth book.)  “I am a banker and I can’t get numbers out of my head,” he said. Bhagat is the first to admit that he is no Arundhati Roy and he knows how seasoned critics feel that his books are shallow. In a riposte to those critics, Bhagat said, “My books sell. I write for ordinary young people who feel suffocated by their parents’ desire for them to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers.” 

Indian youngsters live under pressure-cooker conditions to succeed, according to Bhagat. There is cutthroat competition to win places in India’s elite universities with youngsters compelled to score big. Such social conditions are explored in Bhagat’s writing. The lives of his characters tend to revolve around such social conditions surrounding the Indian middle class. Bhagat believes that India needs to have an academic and social revolution to prevent young students from simply regurgitating what they learn without thinking. He wants to convey this message across to the Indian youth.

“Even if they don’t get stratospheric marks, they are still entitled to a happy life,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world if they fail.” His writing vividly captures the worries, anxieties and all those other preoccupations that youngsters endure. His subject matter includes parental pressure, pre-marital sex, drinking and other topics that are considered taboo in conservative middle class societies.
Rejuvenating the

Potential of young minds
“I was not referring to any particular MBA program or college but the truth of pursuing success,” Bhagat says. “Personally, I was enchanted by the way that graphs play role in our lives. The result of which will be the graphs that sensitize human life. An IIT student myself, I wrote my first book to break the stereotypes attached to the varsity.”

Going along with this particular train of thought, Bhagat says, “My books talk about what is happening with the youth. When I wrote One Night at the Call Centre there was this trend of young people working at call centres. With Three Mistakes of My Life, it was about youth and entrepreneurship, while 2 States is about marriage.” Easy to read, a lot of youngsters can relate to his words. And he has no intention of changing his writing style. “A writer can’t change his style,” he opines. “Why would I want to change it when it’s being well received?”

“My biggest inspiration is being regarded as the voice of the youth” Bhagat says. However, he is also well aware of the expectations he carries. “I wrote my first book in innocence,” he said. “But after it did well, people expected a lot and judged me. I knew my works would be ripped apart as Five Point... had set the bar high.” Through his narratives, Bhagat has struck a chord with young population of India as he talks about issues that are pertinent to their lives. Another reason that can explain his huge fan-following has pretty much to do with his personality. Unlike other writers, Bhagat appears more approachable and interacts with people more often and easily.

Criticisms faced

“It feels horrible and no one likes to be criticised,” he said. “But there is nothing you can do about it. You try to justify your own work, but it still feels terrible. You just try and not think about these incessant criticisms.”

And this is exactly what he prefers to do about the whole controversy surrounding 3 Idiots. “I don’t need controversies to sell my book,” he says. “My book was huge hit much before the movie released. It was an issue of copyright. I don’t want to dig up on that controversy again as it is a thing of the past.” However, he has no problems about his books being made into movies because films reach a lot more people. “I am now more involved with the whole movie making process though,” added Bhagat.

Contributions made
He is a significant presence in India, when it comes to writing fiction. On many occasions, he’s been regarded as a role model for young people. Bhagat’s books have highlighted his deep concern about the problems, hopes and aspirations of the youth. “Practice, observe, be original and honest. Finally, possess a good purpose for writing.” And then he signs off.
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