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Chetan Bhagat: Up, Close and Personal

Feb 2017

Chetan Bhagat: Up, Close and Personal

The final session of the Kolkata Literature Festival saw on stage bestselling author Chetan Bhagat in conversation with Monideepa Banerjie. “Up, close and personal”, the star author was quizzed about everything, from books to his toothpaste!

“He is Kolkata’s jamaai!” introduced Monideepa and Chetan Bhagat told Kolkata about how “mishti” the city is!

“I hadn’t planned my life to be like this.I wrote a book as a hobby. The book was also about three college students. After great difficulty it got published and it was only in the second year that it started selling well. So it really was accidental!,” said the author on being asked about the beginning of his journey.

“Have your own voice. Observe. Read a lot of books of different genres,” was his advice to budding authors. Another important aspect would be to have an attitude to always learn new things. “Also, don’t quit your job too soon!”

“Marketing is also important,” he added while talking about the huge variety of content out there. He talked about how he started off with only 100 people reading his writing. “Many authors get a platform at literature festival. There are so many apps and Youtube and more. Someday we might even see an app festival!” he said.

A political career?
“Not really,” he said. He attributes that to the fact that he thinks that “there are not enough voices that are trustworthy.” He didn’t want to have the kind of power where his actions are dictated by a particularly political party. “The biggest power is in the hands of the public opinion,” he asserted.
“For me there is only one political party, and that’s India,” he concluded.

When asked about the fiasco about returning awards, he promptly said that he thought it was some “nautanki”. Once you’ve accepted an award, returning the same is unethical. Also, generalizing an entire country as “intolerant” is also wrong, just because some people were at fault. So his choicest way of protesting? To collectively get together and say that you don’t approve of certain actions.

Views on demonetisation?
“Politically it was very good, but economically it wasn’t as fruitful as it was anticipated to be,” he said. Leakages, implementation faults and other factors was what made the benefits very limited.

One change he’d like to make would be in the sphere of economy by opening up the economy and implement reforms faster. Also, be more liberal in the social sphere.

The session also discussed the author being a celebrity and having “an opinion about everything”, twitter being a platform of political discourse, nationalism, being greedy, waxing and more.

“An author lives to create an impact”, said Chetan Bhagat and the packed audience would definitely agree that the author has done a fairly great job at it.


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