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Chetan Bhagat: Why I wrote 2 States

April 16, 2014 13:01 IST

Chetan Bhagat: Why I wrote 2 States

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Aseem Chhabra/Rediff.com in New York

'When I wrote 2 States, people asked me why I was writing it. Ek Duuje Ke Liye was made many years ago. Hema Malini and Dharmendra got married and there is a dialogue in the film also.'

Chetan Bhagat tells Rediff.com's Aseem Chhabra about the real reasons behind 2 States.

For all the controversies he generates in his columns, from his random statements on Twitter (sometimes quite politically incorrect) and the fact that a large section of India's educated, liberal, intelligentsia do no care much for his writings, Chetan Bhagat is actually quite a likable guy.

That was the first thing that struck me as I sat down to interview him in New York City's Pierre Hotel.

Bhagat was in New York to promote the new Bollywood film 2 States, based on his semi-autobiographical novel also called 2 States: The Story of My Marriage.

Bhagat writes on topical issues. There is nothing magical about his writings. His narrative style is not impressive, but he has a massive following. And he truly believes in his mission of reaching out to as many more people as he can.

"Bollywood has a massive reach," he says, when I ask why it is important for his books to be made into films.

"The reason I do what I do is first to get people's attention by entertaining them, whether it is in the form of a book or a film. And then I talk to them about what needs to change in the country. I do that by writing columns about current affairs."

Also See: 2 States: Together we make a wonderful combination

When north meets south: Share your '2 States' love story

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Image: Alia Bhatt in 2 States


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'I had all the credentials for an arranged marriage'

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Aseem Chhabra/Rediff.com

Bhagat and his wife Anusha, a banker, met when they were students at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

Like in his book, when they decided to get married, both families raised issues, the main one being that they were from different parts of India.

Bhagat is a Punjabi and Anusha is a Tamilian.

"I had all the credentials for an arranged marriage," Bhagat says. "I had an MBA, I was an investment banker. But I was also a Punjabi."

His own family -- his father was in the army -- had the same issue with Anusha.

But many young people in India have been finding spouses from different parts of the country.

"When I wrote the book, people asked me why I was writing it. Ek Duuje Ke Liye was made many years ago. Hema Malini and Dharmendra got married and there is a dialogue in the film also."

But he believes that the situation has become much more acute as young people in India are travelling to different parts of the country for education. And they are meeting potential spouses from other regions of the country.

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Image: Arjun Kapoor in 2 States.


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Do people say things like '90 per cent Tamilians are not fair'?

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Aseem Chhabra/Rediff.com

In the preview of 2 States, there is a scene in which actor Arjun Kapoor's mother, played by Amrita Singh, says that '90 per cent Tamilians are not fair.'

I ask Bhagat why a Bollywood film has a dialogue like that. Who says things like that openly in public?

He responds by saying that people in India certainly talk like that. And in any case the original dialogue had Singh saying '90 per cent Tamilians are dark.' The dialogue had to be changed because of an objection by the censor board.

For Kai Po Che, another film based on one of his books, Bhagat and the film's director Abhishek Kapoor co-wrote the script over a couple of years. But with 2 States his involvement was minimal, mostly relating to the casting process.

Many actors, including Shah Rukh Khan, were considered for the film. Ultimately the producers, including Karan Johar, settled for two of Bollywood's freshest young faces -- Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

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Image: A scene from 2 States.


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'I was very hurt about the 3 Idiots controversy'

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Aseem Chabra/Rediff.com

Bhagat's first encounter with Bollywood was not pleasant.

A few years ago, he got involved in a very public spat with Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the producer of 3 Idiots, also based on a book written by Bhagat.

"I was very hurt," he says, adding that he was a good friend of the film's director Raj Kumar Hirani before the controversy. He defines his current relationship with Chopra and Hirani as "neutral."

That experience has taught him how to maintain close ties with Bollywood. He is certainly not the outsider he was at the time 3 Idiots was made.

But there are other signs that times have changed.

2 States is the first film based on his novel that carries the same name.

And UTV brought him to the US to promote the film.

"This may be the first time a writer has been brought to North America to talk about a Bollywood film," he says.

And he is right.

Also See: 2 States: Together we make a wonderful combination

When north meets south: Share your '2 States' love story


Image: Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor in 2 States.


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