By Hindustan Times
Clad in an executive suit, with a red tilak on his forehead, Chetan Bhagat is a picture of ‘saintly’ demeanour. But a few minutes into the discussion, a rather flippant remark about fat people, and he has managed to hurt certain sensibilities, yet again. As the audience rages or sighs (depending upon the size of their waist), we take the author aside for a little chat-chat on his knack for offending sensibilities, his upcoming books and more.
‘I’m human, I’m not a saint!’
Whether it’s a sexist joke on Father’s Day or losing his cool over the piracy issue he has often faced flak for being insensitive, but the author plays it cool, “People feel that since I’m in the limelight I have to be extra politically correct, and as a writer, sometimes I’m not. I make my choice between being politically correct and truth. When I tweeted the joke on Father’s day, I had a lot of gals laughing at it, even my wife found it funny. It wasn’t such a big deal, it was a joke. So then why did he delete the tweet? “Some people believe that if you’ve become a celebrity you to behave like a saint, I’m as normal as can I be. It’s human to make mistakes, I’m not a saint. I don’t want to project an image that I never make mistakes. Deleting the tweet was to acknowledge that it might offend someone,” he clarifies.
This is the buried tweet for those who missed it: “Mothers give birth, but ultimately the coke belongs to the guy who puts the coin in the vending machine. Happy father’s day ”
‘My new book is a love story’
With most of his books set in an urban contemporary India, he has captured the small-town India in his next book. “My new book is coming out in October, it’s a love story set in Varanasi. I’ve tried to capture the youth in small town India. I’ve done uber-urban books, but I feel I have a big readership in small towns, I really wanted to do something for them. So does he write thinking the audience in mind, “Well I write popular books, they can’t be too intellectual, I don’t want to do anything of high-level.”
‘Cut-offs reflective of a faulty system’
With 4 million followers on Twitter and back-to-back bestsellers, Bhagat has turned into a youth icon. And he does his bit to enlighten the youth. His latest story, Cut-off, is dark but humorous take on the ridiculously high cut-offs in Universities. He talks animatedly about why the youth shouldn’t give a fig about the cut-offs, “The cut-offs are reflective of a faulty system and my advice to the youth is that they shouldn’t feel bad about making it to the top colleges, life still works out.”
Drifting to another youth issue, he reveals his excitement for the film Aarakshan, which portrays caste-based reservations, “I salute the people who’ve made it, I am a fan of Prakash Jha’s approach to filmmaking, he really reflects reality. I’m glad that someone is talking about this issue, as a modern society we should talk about these issues and art forms should be allowed to cover all controversial issues.
‘No repeat of the 3 Idiots controversy’
After the controversy over the crediting of 3 idiots, the author is playing it safe this time, “Two of my books are being turned into films -Abhishek Kapoor of Rock On! fame, will direct the film version of Three Mistakes with Farhan Akhtar in it. Also, I’ve sold the rights of Two States to Sajid Nadiadwala, we’re talking to Vishal Bhardawaj to make it. This time they’re clearly announcing that the films are adaptations of my book.”