Chetan Bhagat currently holds the honour of an established bestseller novelist not just in India, but around the world. His life journey and, most of all, career preference, comes as an inspiration to us. We all, at some point in our life, have admired Chetan Bhagat's choice of writing over any IIT or IIM placements, and rose him to the pedestal of a 'Youth Icon'. The young author inspired today's 'Smartphone Generation' to take time and read a book.
But while Chetan Bhagat's stories reside in the heart of India's Youngistan, there is still a faction of people, among the youth of India itself, which hate this Youth-novelist. What draws the line between the fans of the writer, and his haters? Why do the readers of India detest the 'Youth Icon'?
Let's try to find out!
Chetan Bhagat made his written debut with 'Five Point Someone'. Apart from being notably appreciated by Indian readers, it also inspired a highly grossing Bollywood marvel '3 Idiots'. Soon, his following works, 'One Night at the Call Centre', '3 Mistakes of My Life' and '2 States' made it to the market, which again reached the best-sellers across the country and led to Bollywood tributes. And the list is still counting.
Along with the youth novels, Chetan also writes editorial columns for various newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar and TOI. He keeps up with the current affairs and shares his point of view on the Editorial Pages. Along with reading his books, the young crowd also started to go through his columns with fondness. So, what makes this brilliant author a target of hate?
First of all, we must consider the fact that his simple, yet compelling writing keeps the readers bound to his stories. With this skill, he was able to lure an audience into the world of book-reading. He has a large mass of student culture under his written influence. Is he utilising that fan-base for anything besides profit?
Secondly, the 'Young India' reads his books as they can connect with the story and understand it. Since he was a student from IIT and IIM, his stories reflect a lot of struggles that the students of India go through – ranging from academics to families, career, and love, etc. But in this 'Race for Relatability', is he losing the strength in his writing?
When Chetan Bhagat wrote 'Five Point Someone', the story gained him a fan-base that was ready to read, thousands of people who were willing to spend both time and money on books. But what did he do? He wrote 'One Night…' which was denounced because of its weak story, repulsive writing style and clichéd characters. With its failure, Chetan turned back to his comfort zone, knowing well, that nothing will sell like Love, Sex and Melodrama. This landed him in making repetitive stories, where the social issues drew thin and banal romance grew intense.
This confinement of writing has now made him creating non-original stories that revolve the setting around a young couple fighting for their love. His choice of words and hold on semantics has given in to the so-called 'relatability'. This has now made a perspective that he is writing his stories as a 'Bollywood scriptwriter.' Bhagat has sadly fallen into the glamour of Bollywood, and we fear that the genuine, concerned author of 'Five Point Someone' may never return.
He inspired a whole generation, and a lot of people dived into writing. Books like 'Of Course I Love You', 'I Too Had a Love Story' etc. began surfacing. This proved that the Bollywood cliché is catching up as a standard for writers, which is found degrading by the readers. Making these stories a normality, he blurred the line between 'best-written' and 'best-selling' among the readers.
Not just in his stories but in his real life and statements in the press, he has time and again displayed a subtle arrogance and a sense of entitlement. These characteristics are enough to ensure, that the lack of semantics isn't only confined in his novels. Here is an excerpt from an article that he apparently wrote on 'Women Empowerment' for Times of India:
This statement, aside from lacking in humour, also strays far from the point. Talking about empowerment, yet speaking of them cleaning floors and making food, and most of all, for 'entertainment', doesn't necessarily put you in a positive stand.
Another such atrocity from the writer was this tweet. Putting yet another humorous, sexual analogy to make your writing to 'connect' with the readers. In one of his latest Sunday article in TOI, "A five-step programme may help a tottering Congress party recover", he suggested points like 'Rahul should say sorry' and that 'they should tell us how things will be different' and 'to pick on the shortcomings of the new government'. These are literally 3 out of 5 points. These are the kind of statements which we do not expect coming from the country's 'Top-Writer'.
As an influential writer with enormous fan-base, he has the power to influence the mentality of the youth of the country, which according to demographics, is a big achievement. But sadly, he is using it to make sure his Bollywood-style stories with repulsive language keep selling. These factors lead the Indian readers to consider him highly over-rated and prefer not putting him in the same league as that of R. K. Narayan and Ruskin Bond!
Do you agree that Chetan Bhagat is over-rated when considered among 'India's Best Authors'? Or do you think that the title is well deserved? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
That's all, folks!