New Delhi: He admits he may not be in the same league as the literary greats of India when it comes to fiction, but has revamped the concept of “bestsellers”. This, says novelist Chetan Bhagat, is because his stories are by an Indian and written for Indians.
The 40-year old was interacting with the alumni and students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi during the annual “Rendezvous 2014” festival here Saturday evening. During the hour-long lecture on “From Institute to Bollywood”, the author of bestseller “Five Point Someone” that was adapted into the blockbuster movie “Three Idiots”, spoke about his journey of changing the course of his life by listening to his inner self.
“When my first novel came in 2004, there was a different literary landscape in India. It was the time when many young people were learning to speak in English for better job prospects,” said Bhagat.
“I know that I am not the best writer in India, but I am the bestselling writer because I write for the people of my country. I write in the language they understand and converse with them through this,” he added.
The entire conversation turned out to be a light-hearted evening for the audience, which applauded, giggled and laughed at Bhagat’s impeccable sense of humour. The audience could associate with Bhagat’s nostalgic references of the culture, girls’ attitude towards IIT boys and how he did many daring things during his stint at this prestigious institute.
While giving the audience a presentation of his journey, he advised them to be more adaptive in life because “brilliance is not just enough to survive in this world”.
“You have to realise that adapting is winning. Being smarter or intelligent is not enough in this world. How many times do we see a brilliant man heading a company? Then we look at them and wonder: ‘Our fundas (basics) were better than his, but why aren’t there’? So be more than what you are,” said the author of six novels.
Bhagat, in his many interviews, has maintained that he isn’t writing to win literary prizes but is using writing as a tool to teach English and make many people read books writing in simple English.
Even his latest novel “Half Girlfriend” is the love story of a non-English speaking Bihari boy and a Delhi girl. Through this “language divide”, he is not just narrating a tale, but reaching out to mofussil India that aspires to “speaking flawless English” to find societal acceptance.
“These days, people are associating language with intelligence and this is creating a social-caste system. I want to stop this elitism,” he said.
“Educated girls don’t want to date a guy who doesn’t speak English and this is what I have tried to bring out in my novel,” he added.
Bhagat wants every slum dweller in the country to be able to read his book one day, and emphasised on how he doesn’t want to repeat himself as an author with his novel.
“I want to change people’s thinking by writing, so that they can elect better. I use my writings, novels and columns to focus on that aspect and hope my message reaches out to a large audience,” he concluded.