I have never talked about it so openly. But it was only about time. Yes, I admit. I don’t like his books. And to an extent, him too.
Before I start, here’s an introduction to his upcoming book which speaks for itself on how BRILLIANT a writer he is.
“Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a girl called Riya. Madhav didn’t speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn’t. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didn’t. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half-girlfriend.”
Brilliant, right? That’s why thousands are already pre-ordering his next book just on the basis of these AMAZING lines.
If you don’t see the problem yet, read on.
To be honest with you all, I have never actually read any of his books entirely. I started with One Night At The Call Center and The Three Mistakes Of My Life but I couldn’t get past 25 pages or so. Not because it wasn’t my ‘taste’, as some would call it, but because it was utter trash. And I have no intention of picking up any of his books in future too. I have read enough to know that I can never like his work. And the fact that everyone likes his books so much is truly beyond my understanding. It’s so saddening to know what taste the youth of our country has when it comes to books, where writers like him are the best sellers.
I’m not saying that don’t read his works. Everyone has a choice and you are most welcome to read whatever you like. My concern is not that people love his books, but that his books are the books that people love BEST. And a lot of people argue that Chetan Bhagat has woken up a whole new generation of readers, who otherwise, wouldn’t have picked up a book in their lifetimes. But let’s face it. What good is it doing to anyone to read the kind of books that he writes? What I’ve noticed most is that the people who adore his books, never really grow out of it. It’s like they have developed an interest in reading, but it’s unfortunately limited to that type and that type alone, which includes the likes of Of Course I love You, Till I find Someone Better or Now That You’re Rich, Let’s Fall In Love by Durjoy Dutta or a ton of other works by young adult writers who have made their ways into the bookshelves of most of the Indian youth by penning down the cheesy rants of their own love lives. And when you think about it, how is it even helping us to develop . I understand that not all books are meant to be constructive and that we are entitled to a light read too. But what if it is all most people around you like to read and appreciate. I’m not against romantic books, it’s just that all of these books I’m talking about have, more or less, the same old monotonous plots. A plot which has love, heartbreak, a story based around social media (because come on, it speaks to us, doesn’t it?), couple of sensual descriptions, maybe throw in a bit of college life too, and there! You have it! A perfect bestseller!
Now coming back to why I don’t like Chetan Bhagat, it’s not because he’s a best-selling writer who writes shitty books or definitely not because he’s successful or that he’s making millions with his stories which ‘connect’. In fact, good for him that he’s achieved so much with so little talent of storytelling. I don’t like him because whatever little I know about him, he never came across as a rational person to me. His Sunday articles in TOI, never being even close to as good as you’d expect from a bestselling author. His latest one, “A five step programme may help a tottering Congress party recover”, suggesting points like ‘Rahul should say sorry‘ and that ‘they should tell us how things will be different‘ and ‘to pick on the shortcomings of the new government‘. These are literally 3 out of 5 points. Now look me in the eyes and tell me what a GENIUS he is. And another instance when he wrote that article which was ‘meant’ to be women empowering. To quote exactly what he wrote:
“Can you imagine life without the ladies? There would be body odour, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat. The entertainment industry would die.”
Oh wow! Is that supposed to make us feel empowered that this world would fall apart, if we don’t cook food or pick after men or entertain them? Is that supposed to make us feel proud and good about ourselves to know that, according to him, this is all we are meant for?
I understand that he may have meant it in the best interest and that he encourages equality. But then again, it all comes down to choice of words and how you express it, an understanding which eludes him. And these are just a couple of instances. Don’t even get me started on his entire articles. Not to mention his constant mindless blabbering on twitter like when he tweeted “The rupee is asking, is there no punishment for my rapists.” or when he tweeted “In Slumdog Millionaire, a chaiwallah won the top prize. The world loved that story. Remember that.”, pointing to our PM. Not something you’d expect from a ‘top writer’ of our country. Would you? But there he is. Known as India’s Best Storyteller. Now recognized in the same league as Vikram Seth, R.K.Narayan, Aravind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh, etc. Such a shame!