You are here: Rediff Home » India » Get Ahead » Photo
Search: The Web
  Email this Page  |   Write to us

Back | Next

'I'm really trying to deserve that title of youth icon'

May 15, 2008
About the upcoming book, he says: "It's a very simple story about three young boys, who want to start their own business in Ahmedabad. When I wrote the first book on IIT, people tagged me as a youth icon. I thought it's a cool tag, but I didn't think I deserved it, because IIT is a very elitist place. So then, I broadened it; I wrote about call centres. But still they said 'That's an urban thing and an upper middle class phenomenon.' So, I wrote this story about these guys who have no money, who just open a sports goods store. They are very much middle, middle class, in fact, even a little lower. So, I'm trying to broaden my appeal. I'm trying to reach a bigger audience. I'm really trying to deserve that title of youth icon."

He says three main components -- business, cricket and religion -- make up the book. On business, he says, "You know, Gujarat is a very entrepreneurial state. So I think I was inspired by that. It's very clear, at least to the young generation, that we want India to be a rich country. We won't make money working jobs; we have to create our own businesses. Plus, I work in a bank; I analyse companies all day. So I understand the knowledge of business. Cricket, I'm Indian and I'm a guy; cricket is flowing through me. And religion, again, is something that is very important to all the people of my country. We are very much affected by religion, whether we are big believers or moderate or whatever. I think the younger generation especially, on one hand, they are fine that there is a place for God in their lives; 70 per cent of youth in India visit a temple every week; but at the same time, they aren't as hard-line as the older generation."

Aside from these overarching themes, the book explores why people make mistakes, and the importance of how they deal with them. "Parents in India always guide their children down the safer path. And starting a business is risky. So here's a story about a boy who makes mistakes, but owns up to them. Because, when you're young, you will make mistakes. So that's the story, The 3 Mistakes of My Life."

But, as an NRI returnee to India -- his wife recently accepted a top level position with an investment banking firm in Mumbai -- Chetan's got a lot on his mind, and not all of it can be expressed in books. "I'm 150 per cent Indian. I started realising, 'My country has given me so much, some great education from two schools, and then, great recognition with my books.' But still, I was there, eating noodles, when I can be back, having better food and my own people, and all the opportunity I want."

It's clear that after years of biding his time in Hong Kong, he's thrilled to be back and to see India emerging as a major world player. "It's like returning to my mother," he says sheepishly. Despite this recent returnee status, he's clear to distance himself his literature from the NRI genre. "Many of my contemporaries have written immigrant angst," he points out. "It's just so boring, right? It's like, 'You were sitting in your Honda Accord, missing India? Deal with it.'"

Image: Chetan and Anusha Bhagat recently moved back to Mumbai when Anusha accepted a job in the city

Also read: When Salman Rushdie came calling...

Buy Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone on

Back | Next

© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer | Feedback