Interview: Chetan Bhagat


Interviewed for and Originally Published on on 17/03/2016

Chetan Bhagat. The public loves him. The critics, not so much. Many of us would have first heard of him when he broke out as a writer with his novels Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center. Today he has 8 blockbuster books (6 fiction) to his name. And he sells. His books have sold over 10 million copies and all of his books have remained bestsellers since their release. Four of his books have also been adapted into Bollywood films. Besides being an author, Chetan Bhagat is also known as a columnist, screenwriter, television personality and motivational speaker.

And there is no dearth of titles attached to his name. He has repeatedly been called the ‘Youth Icon of India’.  The New York Times called him the ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history’. Time magazine named him amongst the ‘100 most influential people in the world’. Fast Company, USA, listed him as one of the world’s ‘100 most creative people in business’.

I recently had the opportunity to converse with him over dinner at the Tiffin Room at Raffles Hotel. Despite all the fame, he comes across as a mild-mannered, bindass guy, who was more than happy to answer all my questions. In this freewheeling, casual conversation, the best-selling writer speaks about his upcoming book, tells us whether 2 States is the story of his life, talks about Singapore and says that he writes to be read, not to be celebrated or decorated.

1) So are you working on anything right now?

I’m working on a new book, which will come out in October, around Diwali. I always write my books in the first person, this time I’m writing as a woman. The book is about Indian women. I’ve been wanting to do this book for 5-6 years now but I was scared whether I would be able to write as a woman. I can catch the dialogues, the way women talk. But how do women think? When people pick up my book, they’ll expect that I’ll get it right.

2) Are you afraid that you won’t get it right?
I’m confident now that I’ve got it. I’ve waited for 5 years – to get the story right, to get everything right. I haven’t told this to many people but I’ve interviewed over a 100 women for this book. I’m not going to be able to do this again.

I know this sounds really bizarre, but if I’ve been writing a lot the previous night, I sometimes wake up thinking I’m a girl. At times, I’ve started reacting like a girl. I’m really living it.

3) So how did that first book happen? Since you were working at a bank, what made you write a book? continue reading

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