‘Don’t want people to think I’m no fun’
By Prashanti Ganesh - CHENNAI
11th August 2012 08:58 AM
Even as author Chetan Bhagat basks in the success of his latest book, What Young India Wants: Selected Essays and Columns, he has no qualms in admitting that he is not what one may call a true representative of young India.
“I definitely am not a true representative, but I’m trying to echo some of their sentiments through the platform that I have as an author,” says Bhagat, whose latest book, his first attempt at non-fiction, was released recently. “India is far too diverse to have one true representative,” he adds as an afterthought.
Bhagat’s latest book is a collection of his newspaper articles, talks and other essays. After well-received works of fictions like Five Point Someone, Three Mistakes of My Life, One Night @ The Call Centre and Revolution 20:20, Bhagat says he is fully aware of the fact that he might lose a chunk of his gigantic readership base post his newest book, but maintains that people expect him to do something new.
Bhagat says he and his team were careful while marketing the book so it doesn’t send out the wrong message about him to his loyal readers. “We were careful in making sure that people knew this was just my attempt at non-fiction.”
This move is definitely a risk to his career as a fiction author, Bhagat admits, “People tend to take you too seriously, I don’t want them to think I’m no fun,” he laughs.
Bhagat goes on to say that according to him, what young India really wants is quite simple – a good life with a good job and a great girlfriend. So, to get the younger generation to be more involved in politics and society (which are some of the topics he has discussed in length in his book) a link between their ambitions and their participation in social causes needs to be made.
“To have a good job, you need a good economy. For romance, you need a lot of freedom – I’m just trying to build a framework,” explains Bhagat. Right now, the case is that you are either an activist who has given up everything in life or a selfish person.
But that’s not how it has to be and you can strike a balance between being both of those people, Bhagat argues. “But unfortunately, that’s how it is,” he rues.
For someone who speaks with an air of confidence, it is surprising when Bhagat confesses there is a constant fear of his opinions not being taken seriously, because of his fictional author image. “But with over time, because of the way I’m presenting things, people see value in what I say. They may not agree with everything I say, but people see some value in it,” he says.
The book also has two short stories. “They’re a mix of fact and fiction,” says Bhagat. “One is about how the government is ineffective – it’s an allegory, sort of like Animal Farm (George Orwell). The other is about high cutoff marks in admission exams.”
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