By Manav Garg:

We love them. We hate them. They’re the most entertaining and the most irritating characters in their professions who drool over continuous attention. Be it Mario Balotelli turning up in a wrong jersey at a club press conference and setting his own house on fire, S. Sreesanth’s dance steps during a test match, or Rakhi Sawant’s televised “swayamvara” that set TRPs on fire and her tantrums on various reality shows.

chetanbhagat.jpg.scaled1000Chetan Bhagat – Alumni of two of the most prestigious institutions in India, author of multiple best sellers and one of the “100 most influential people in the world” (Times magazine survey). Yet, “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history” (As per The New York Times), tends to dramatize everything he has to say and end up amidst controversies. Mr. Bhagat’s comments, that either fuel age old prejudices, or tend to be simple assertive claims, seem to be targeted at generation of hype.

Chetan Bhagat is treading on a dangerous path, fast approaching glory as the ‘Rakhi Sawant’ of Indian Journalism. In “A letter from an Indian Muslim Youth”, his stereotyping of the Muslim youth using “a Muslim cap” or their surnames, gained active criticism, especially from young Indians. Written from the point to view of a Muslim youth and laden with assertions, it lacked any knowledge of the life of the community that he tried to appease. Mr. Bhagat spoke of Muslims wanting ‘jobs, schools and colleges, opportunities to work hard for a good standard of living’ forgetting to mention how every young middle class man’s demands are no different. He talks of communal backwardness – yet another stereotype, with no proof of his claims or any kind of data on poverty by religion. He describes the situation of every poor family in India – be it a worshiper of Lord Shiva, or a follower of the Prophet. What Mr. Bhagat wrote, could very easily have been a letter from a Dalit, or even a poor man, for there was nothing peculiar to the Muslim community that was highlighted in the letter.

And this isn’t a one off tale. On International Women’s Day, Mr Bhagat’s article on “things that women need to change” had the same intent. He talked about habits that are common to the human race in general and not the women in particular, sparking controversies throughout India. When Narayan Murthy complained about degrading quality of students at IITs, Mr. Bhagat stepped in again, saying “It is ironic when someone who runs a body shopping company and calls it hi-tech, makes sweeping comments on the quality of IIT students”. Too personal and dramatic a response from the self appointed savior of IITs, right? And then there was the entire ‘publicity stunt’ from Mr. Bhagat around the release of the movie “Three Idiots”, an adaptation on his novel.

Mr Bhagat has created the image of a drama-queen, the kid who wants attention. His works are increasingly concentrating on generating media hype, and not on their actual subject. In his words “I see them (political leaders) wear Muslim caps, perhaps to show us that they really do mean to improve our lives. However, a cap on your head doesn’t change anybody’s life.” I can only add “writing as a Muslim youth, and inventing issues pertaining to a community doesn’t change things, real journalism does.

Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 12:13 am July 23, 2013
Ruchika
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Author

I don’t really think of myself as a hater but Mr Bhagat is on the top of my list of people to troll/trash. Thanks @Manav Garg for saying all these positively radiant things about India’s “favourite” author.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 6:36 pm July 5, 2013
Aniket Durga Pathak
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Author

Don’t like him don’t read him. As simple as that! By writing this you have done a favor to nobody else but Chetan Bhagat himself.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 3:39 pm July 5, 2013
yashni
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Author

you guys are forgetting two states– “Given the dusky complexion, everyone’s teeth shone extra white. “!! geesh is this something to write in a novel ? so racist ! half of the indian population is dark and such statements in a god damn novel !! shameful.. i wonder how an independent women married such a cheap man with such mentality !!

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 5:36 pm July 5, 2013
    Raj
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    Author

    Come on, it is racist but it’s true in a funny way. I don’t think he meant any harm.

      Harvey Specter
      Posted at 3:49 pm July 8, 2013
      yashni
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      Author

      yeah you may find it funny but to the thousands of dark people thats not \ right,.. hurting sentiments by targeting a particular community..thats pathetic.

        Harvey Specter
        Posted at 4:15 pm July 8, 2013
        Raj
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        Author

        I don’t think so, since he isn’t abusing them or saying something that’s untrue. He isn’t implying that dark people have such and such character. In the book, he is pointing out the first impressions that a typical non-South Indian will have. While it may be inappropriate for people to have such thoughts, then nevertheless do think them. So I see nothing wrong if a writer brings out such thoughts in the open.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 11:33 pm July 4, 2013
neuronalwiring
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Author

Just like you have an opinion on him, so does he and you both should be respected. He is a bigger writer and the world kinda expects him to have opinions on each subject. So what if he doesn’t know what he is talking about, not everyone knows everything. You don’t always need to have knowledge of a subject to relate to it. It’s just the way he relates to things. Cut the guy some slack, will you all?

Harvey Specter
Posted at 11:18 pm July 4, 2013
Abdul Wahid Khan
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Author

Well then what’s the real journalism? And who is going to decide this?

Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:56 pm July 4, 2013
Richa
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Author

With half baked knowledge and raw unprocessed data that he serves the Indian youth today, in form of the gossip exhibits he calls novels, Chetan Bhagat is outclassing Rakhi Sawant by all means! At least Sawant his upfront about her agenda!

Wonderful and crisp, maybe the ‘Best Selling Indian Author’ could learn a thing or two called grammar and spelling from the writer, Manav!
P.S: Manav Garg, you are by all means better than Chetan Bhagat, but let it not stop you. No offense, but this could have been bettered, literature-wise ;)

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 2:49 am July 5, 2013
    Raj
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    Author

    CB sucks, but why the hate against Rakhi Sawant? She is amazing! She is “in-your-face-if-you’ve-got-it-then-flaunt-it” type. She is an entertainer who uses her “gifts” :P to the max. She knows she isn’t smart or classy and does not pretend to be an intellectual either. I really like Rakhi Sawant! CB on the other hand is a fraud and moron and his books are tasteless. I really can’t stand his works.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:41 pm July 4, 2013
Abhineet Kumar
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Author

Guys please do not delete comments. That is indeed unprofessional. You should be open to criticism! Shame that you are deleting the comment.

Reposting:

Well, I can’t see that many similarities between the two. Sorry. Manav, I think you could have written on a better topic man! Who cares if the man is all about the hype or not? All I know is his book “What Young India Wants” is quite good and should be read by more people. You too give it a try! It’s time we bade goodbye to our habit of criticising people all the time. At least the man is trying to motivate the youth. Let him do so.

@Anshul – Could have chosen better topics Mr. Editor. Thought your blog doesn’t publish articles written for media hype!

P.S. — I am a YKA fan. Although not a Chetan Bhagat fan, but certainly feel his book “What Young India Wants” makes sense

Harvey Specter
Posted at 10:20 pm July 4, 2013
Sivani Rao Tadepalli
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Author

Its always his stunt and public show off and nothing more. I read his work and it was nothing more than a general writing style. I would like to add that he writes stories which are related to the people of this gen.. and that is the only reason along with the language being very simple and can even be easily comprehended by a layman. Given a chance there are many more young writers who have got splendid talent and can make a very good impact on the generation. I regret reading his works. He just made his way by ONLY his SO CALLED BRAND from the two most prestigious institutions of India and nothin more. Rakhi Sawanth is far more better at her work than this guy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harvey Specter
Posted at 9:44 pm July 4, 2013
Abhineet Kumar
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Author

Well, I can’t see that many similarities between the two. Sorry. Manav, I think you could have written on a better topic man! Who cares if the man is all about the hype or not? All I know is his book “What Young India Wants” is quite good and should be read by more people. You too give a try! It’s time we bade goodbye to our habit of criticising people all the time. At least the man is trying to motivate the youth. Let him do so.

@Ankur – Could have chosen better topics Mr. Editor. Thought your blog doesn’t publish articles written for media hype!

P.S. — I am a YKA fan. Although not a Chetan Bhagat fan, but certainly feel his book “What Young India Wants” makes sense.

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 12:32 pm July 5, 2013
    Gaganpreet Kaur
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    Author

    ya…that is so true..

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 11:14 pm July 7, 2013
    Mehul Gala (@mahigala7)
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    Author

    I completely agree with Abhineet. Atleast he is trying to hit the right notes unlike many others. I have read “What Young India Wants” and it really inspired me. It gave completely tangential viewpoints to many real life situations. Every Indian youth must read this book.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 7:33 pm July 4, 2013
Rishi
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Author

yar pehle article toh dhang se format kar leta ..

Harvey Specter
Posted at 6:56 pm July 4, 2013
artemis1991
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Author

Chetan Bhagat is one of the worst writers, if he can even be called one, in the country. How he attained that status with his textbook style writing and non developed shallow characters that border on stupidity, is a a mystery. Rightly said, he is the Rakhi of whatever. If you are reading this Mr. Bhagat, please know that you really need to take creative writing classes and stop fashioning your books after a chemistry text.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 6:53 pm July 4, 2013
Arun Mehta
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Author

He is wearBJP stooge he has lost what he learned in education , never comments and writes in balance [tilted towards BJP but pretend to be neutral]

Harvey Specter
Posted at 4:30 pm July 4, 2013
Raj
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Author

How dare you insult Rakhi Sawant! She is far better model, dancer and entertainer than that pretentious moron. :P ….. Oh what’s that? He is a writer, you say? Never knew :P

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 7:28 pm July 4, 2013
    Manav Garg
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    Author

    Hahahaha. He is a writer who believes – “good grammar and vocabulary are just colonial hangovers” (the wording was different).
    He tries to write no doubt. And ends up selling a lot of books too. Which is primarily because of all the hype he’ll generate.

      Harvey Specter
      Posted at 9:46 pm July 4, 2013
      Rigya Singh
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      Author

      If good grammar and vocabulary are just colonial hangover, ask him why is he writing in English. I really hate this guy, more so after he came up with that column of his. My blood boiled after reading that Woman’s day article. So patronising and condescending and it affirmed so many stereotypes. His novels sell as they have generic caricatured characters on whom one can impose his/her image.

        Harvey Specter
        Posted at 2:51 am July 5, 2013
        Raj
        Reply
        Author

        He’s just like that old senile uncle who will show up now and then and give some intellectual-sounding pointless advice on recent issues. And Rakhi is orders of magnitude better than him

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