“What is Chetan Bhagat All About?”

As Chetan Bhagat’s third book The 3 Mistakes of My Life hits the book stores of the country, my memories of the FPS are refreshed! In a time when most of the youth had given up reading and had been bitten by the net bug, the one book which even got my 15 year old cousin hooked who, by the way had never read a book since Gingerbread man smitten, was Five Point Some One.

If you came across any student, they would be raving about Hari, Ryan and Alok. And of course, if you had not read the book, it was as though your education was a waste!

The book was a best seller! And the very next year came One Night @ the Call Centre which made Chetan Bhagat one of the largest selling Indo- Anglican writers. Naturally, if we look at it from the critical point of view as Chetan Bhagat said in one of his interviews, “The book critics, they all hate me!” Indeed, if one looks at what the critics have to say, a book title with the symbol “@” scares the English out of most of them!

Now Chetan Bhagat comes up with his third book, The 3 Mistakes of My Life. As revealed by Bhagat himself, it is set in the western state of Gujarat soon after the bloody sectarian riots of 2002, and deals with issues of tolerance and confusion that Bhagat believes young Indians feel about religious values. So what do we expect from Mr. Bhagat this time?

Surely, we can expect his tryst with Bollywood and melodrama, probably a story that tugs at the emotional chords of the youth.

So the question remains, what is the whole Chetan Bhagat Syndrome all about?

The cool thing about Chetan Bhagat is that he knows how to strike the right chord for the youth! His books have the formula for a super- hit aloo chat which is instant, spicy, tasty, and “@” the right price! A book at Rs 95 attracts almost everyone. The major attraction in the books is the theme, which students all over the country can relate to!

Looking at it from a literary point of view, here we see a writer who is technically speaking, not one belonging to the league of Vikram Seth or Arundhati Roy, yet he writes these books which the youth just adhere to. After reading his books, the only question that came to my mind was, “What was the big deal about?” When it comes to literary satisfaction, we get none! But it is just the sheer smartness – we have two stories, one that appeals to the students as they can relate to the pressures they undergo and the other dealing with the BPO culture which again, the youth can relate to. The common factor between the two is a complete filmi, masala book! Honestly, how many masala books have you ever come across?

He has truly been a trend setter, giving rise to the culture of campus novels in India. Following him was Sumthing of a Mocktale by Soma Das, set in the JNU campus which was a transparent portrayal of the JNU campus, and was liked by many. Also we had Everything you Desire by Harshdeep Jolly, set in the IIM campus. This one was not one I personally enjoyed as it was more or less like a daily journal concentrating merely on waking up on time and having breakfast and lunch on time! On the other hand, a novel, which was caught in the genre of these campus novels, but managed to stand out, was Above Average by Amitabha Bagchi. This book which does not follow the formula of a movie, reaches out with its honesty and ingenuity. As far as the recent books in this genre are concerned, we have Tanushree Podder’s portrayal of life at the NDA with Boots Belts Beret.

So coming back to Chetan Bhagat; I guess the best answer to the question, “What Chetan Bhagat is all about”, and we have an answer from his publisher Kapish Mehra, of Rupa & Company who says, “He is not a literary writer. But, more importantly, he is a successful and popular writer.

I would like to wish him luck with his new book and new venture as a script writer.

Ayushi Uberoi

[Image Source: http://www.hindu.com/lr/2007/02/04/images/2007020400070203.jpg]