Literature in India is almost exclusively divided into two categories. English novels by ‘foreign’ people which are usually read by people educated in English medium schools and the regional novels: epics, poetry, novels, short stories, you name it. People who belong to the former category are looked upon as jerks who are ashamed of the rich culture of our motherland. The ones belonging to the latter are treated as ‘desis’.
Some think of them as purists. Some think they’re eww. Recently, a third category has grown roots. English books by Indian authors. They are the new rockstars. Their books go out in flash sales. Now, Indians have been writing English books for many years. But the spotlight really shined on them after Chetan Bhagat. And he sucks.
Now I don’t hate the guy. He is smart,both academically and practically. His thoughts in his TOI column are truly thought-provoking. But he writes really stupid books. Each one of them reads like a really long essay in an examination. Don’t feed me the “his books are simple to understand” crap. I am not saying that they are boring. My point is they are too dilute.Almost to the point of being mistaken for a novella in a monthly. One time is great. Twice is okay. But the same tricks every single time? Come on! A boy falls for a girl. The background is a college for about 70% of the books. Drama happens. He gets the girl. Game over. Even kiddie pools are deeper than this stuff. And no this is NOT a ‘style’ and I don’t have an attitude problem.
3 Idiots! was exceedingly better than 5 Point Someone. It was because finally someone had put the book to its proper use. Cinema script. What did Mr. Bhagat do then? ‘I wasn’t credited in the making of this film’ he ended up getting a postscrpit after the end credits. That was enough for something new to happen. After 3 Idiots! ,Chetan Bhagat suddenly gained a new audience. This new crowd was people who wanted to know about the guy who wrote the book which was made into their favorite movie. They weren’t interested in reading. They cared about Facebook statuses like “Reading da new Chetan Bhagat book. Best author ever. Shakespeare of India! ” What. The. Fuck. Newspapers like the Times of India weren’t far behind either.
The biggest storyteller of India? Seriously? There are countless other guys who more than deserve a front page ad like this. People who really do some background work and research,plot development,character establishment. Take a look at Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy. It is rich in detail and manages to hold the reader still till the last page. I must say though, I liked Chetan Bhagat’s Revolution 2020. I also loved What Young India Wants. Things are more solid here. I am looking forward to his new book, Making India Awesome, which comes out on Independence Day. His writing seems to have matured and grown some flesh.
Bottomline is, I don’t hate him. I just think his pre-Revolution 2020 books are stupid. I am sorry if I have offended you. But if you are a ‘fan’ of those books, you are as important to me as water on Mars.