'Today's youth are disillusioned and highly aspirational'
After authoring best-selling novels like Five Point Someone, One Night @ the Call Center, The 3 Mistakes of My Life and 2 States, author Chetan Bhagat is ready with his fifth book.
In an exclusive interview with Sriram Balasubramanian, the well-known author speaks about his forthcoming book and the anti-corruption mood in the country.
It has been sometime since you shifted to being a full-time writer. From a banker to a full-time writer, how has the transition been?
The transition has been good and I think the most important thing is it gives you the freedom to evolve with your book. It makes you much more attached since you are full-time on the book. Another aspect is that it offers me flexibility since I am a full-time writer and this flexibility makes my job much easier. I also do a lot of talk shows and that occupies my time a lot as well.
Your latest book is coming up in the next month or so. How has that been progressing?
The book is into printing. Since over a million copies are going to be printed (minimum), and there are about 300 pages for every book, it takes quite some time.
From the first look of your new book, it has a very pan-India theme with a focus on corruption and of course relationships. You portray relationships in a natural way, is it an instinctive style or you work on it with inputs from others?
It's the natural style that I adopt. My characters are all steeped in everyday life and I adopt that approach because I think that is one of the things that readers like about me.
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Image: Chetan Bhagat with wife Anusha
'Anna's movement against corruption gave me an impetus'
Are your characters generally inspired from your own experiences or are they completely fictional?
Mostly yes. Most of the characters are based on people I've met at some point of time in my life. The inspiration for a single character is at times drawn from experiences from multiple people.
The theme of corruption is something very interesting. Was it inspired from the Anna Hazare movement?
To be really honest it wasn't. It gave me impetus at the end of it but was not the source. When I started writing the book a couple of years back, there was none of this, there was not even the uprising in Egypt. I felt a deep connect then during my interactions about corruption in the society.
The youth are disillusioned and are highly aspirational in a competitive society such as ours. I thought I should address that need and I thought this book would help deal with that process.
The book deals, to an extent, with corruption in education and I hope it serves the purpose to entertain my audience as well.
You were a staunch supporter of the Anna movement. Why do you support the cause?
The rise of people power was shown by Anna. It also underlined the anger I had against corruption in today's society. It created awareness among the youth and it felt "cool" to be good.
Don't you think the fast (beyond a point) sometimes subverts democracy?
My point is very simple -- confidence is the key among people, when people are not confident they show their frustration. Anna, in my opinion, symbolises the effect not the cause.
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Image: People write letters in favour of Lokpal Bill to support Anna Hazare
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
'Society need to be more open-minded'
What do you think are some of the ways the youth can contribute towards anti-corruption?
The youth need to be very good in terms of the way they live their lives. An open-minded approach is also required in society. Furthermore, people need to choose better qualities rather than stick with identities.
Some critics tend to feel that you have a cliched style of writing. Is there a difference in style in your new book (compared to previous ones) or is it the same?
My style will be the same and I am not going to change it for quite a while. I have lots of critics and I acknowledge that fact. Purists tend to find faults in my style but that's the way I am. Just because Infosys employees thousands of employees more than Google (not as selective and purist as Google), it doesn't make it bad in anyway right? I don't mind being an Infosys as long as my fans like what I write.
Do you plan to have a grand launch for your book?
My launches are always low profile and I like it that way. There would be a launch in Delhi and Mumbai. I would also go to other cities to publicise as part of my talks across the country.
Any message for your fans?
It's amazing to know that it is "cool" to await a book's launch so eagerly in an age of high technology. It's very nice that they are awaiting the book so much. I really appreciate that and I can assure that I won't let them down.
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters