Monday, March 25, 2013

Chetan Bhagat : Phenomenon or Farce ?

Chetan Bhagat, the very name evokes a range of complex reactions ranging from hero worship to admiration to apathy to outright disgust! No matter which side of the fence you stand in this case, but you can’t deny that Mr Bhagat has carved out a niche for himself in the world of writing, and more so in the Indian society at large.

From a neutral point of view, one does need to give him the credit where it is due. He has to a large extent transformed the English Writing landscape in India. He was the first to capture the essence of the modern Indian Youth, and more importantly present it before them (in a written form!). And it did work splendidly after all, opening the gates for the fresh wave of Desi English writers that has since followed. Most of you must have seen “Kai Po Che”, a beautiful movie, wasn’t it? What made it such an instant hit? The answer is pretty simple, the story. It captured so much of what surrounds us in such a simple manner. Be it the essence of friendship or the semi-taboo romance or the portrayal of religious fanaticism. That is exactly what makes the stories of this guy click. They are easy for the masses to relate with.

But there is the other side to all this too. During his journey from an investment banker to a celebrity writer, he has had his share of negative publicity and criticism. He crossed swords with the makers of “3 Idiots” resulting in a much publicised media battle. His books have been labelled as those with unimaginative stories written in bad grammar, an accusation which can’t exactly been denied completely! He has been accused of dumbing down the level of literature in the country. Honestly speaking, he branding himself as the “voice of youth” in various articles hasn’t helped his cause either! Well, let’s be honest. His stories are to an extent like run-of-the-mill bolly cinema and they aren’t exactly literary marvels either. But one big problem is that it has become almost a past-time for some to criticise him just because they heard some wise guy do it on TV. It is good to have an opinion but to brand someone’s work as dumb just because you heard so somewhere is indeed stupid.

It goes down to a personal level too you see and it has to do with the Indian mentality to an extent. I mean, here you have an IIT and IIM alumnus who has gone on to become a literary superstar! For some, isn’t that just mean and unfair in the big bad world? Well, his credentials have unfortunately been one of the reasons for him getting bombarded by some.

At the end of the day, he might well be an over-rated and over-hyped writer. But the fact is he is probably the most well-known writer in the country. And for most of the people who don’t have the patience or the skill needed to sit through a LOTR, he is someone who has transformed them from a non-reader to a reader. You can love him, or hate him but he is one damn hard guy to ignore! But my advice, in case you don’t like him much (like I used to myself till sometime back)  try to ignore him for good or find something positive about it because he is here to stay.
I finish with what a strictly non-reader type friend of mine had once said about Chetan Bhagat’s writing once, “I don’t like it much but they are light and easy going.. Ek do din mein khatam ho jaati hai kam se kam..”.

 That sums it up I guess!!