Charming Chetan and his Girl in Room 105
Chetan Bhagat, one of the big names in Indian literature has a stature that precedes his personality However, meet him in person and you will know...
Book details: Author: Chetan Bhagat; Publisher: Westland; Price: Rs 199
Pull quote: It is a crime story, but it is still a ‘Chetan Bhagat’ book; it is a fun book but a crime book – Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat, one of the big names in Indian literature has a stature that precedes his personality. However, meet him in person and you will know that he is a gentle soul, who will greet you with a ready smile and a charming demeanour. Chetan was in Hyderabad to promote his upcoming book ‘The Girl in Room 105’. In a freewheeling chat, the author shared the idea behind penning his first mystery novel, Kashmir and trolls.
Why did you switch the genre?
I wanted to challenge myself. I think, my readers expect excitement every time. If it is thrilling, then they get excited about the book. I thought there are enough love stories; let’s do something like an “unlove” story, which is basically how to get over someone when you can’t get them. The tagline is also the ‘An Unlove Story’. Also, I have done too many love stories and it is nice to change the genre. Crime genre is a big area for best-selling authors, but I have never done anything there, and I thought I will do something in this genre. So, it is a crime story, but it is still a ‘Chetan Bhagat’ book; it is neither very dark nor has gory violence. it is a fun book but a crime book.
I have always written about burning issues in the country. Kashmir is something, which is very misunderstood. Extreme elements have taken over the narrative; only they get the stage. We don’t know what ordinary Kashmiri youth think. Kill all terrorists is all that we hear. We don’t hear about the normal kid, who has a mobile phone and he is cut off from the internet for days. And he only wants to get his internet back so that he can check his Instagram. And I thought somebody should talk about them too and then it humanises Kashmir more and it makes a kid in Hyderabad relate to a kid in Kashmir. I think that will bring readers closer to understanding Kashmir.
Why did you choose to make a trailer to announce the book?
I wanted to bring attention back to the book, and I thought a trailer will excite people. It was easy and innovative. It got a good response, it got one million plus views organically in no time. We have a million pre-orders for the book. The trailer is of high quality as it is made by filmmaker Mohit Suri. It is lacking nothing in terms of production values and it has brought me a new set of readers. People who do not read are also ordering as they want to be part of the excitement.
Many of your books have turned into movies and critics say that your movies are not short of a screenplay, so do you write only with an intention to make the book into a film?
Yes, many of my books have turned into movies. I write books and they take it for movies. It logically does not mean that I write a book with the intention to make it into a film. My book is number one now on Amazon and it has not even released; it is going to sell millions of copies. If someone wants to make a film on that, then it’s great, and I don’t have to write a book for making a movie. For me, it is very important that the book does extremely well.
How do you handle trolls?
Every celebrity gets trolled. People who give their opinions strongly get trolled more, people who talk about politics get trolled more and people who don’t give a damn about all of that gets trolled even more. And I am an all of these, so I get a little extra, but my job is not to please everyone, and trolls are harmless unless the media gives them a platform. I ignore trolls, it is like people screaming on roads. They have no credibility. Media makes stories about “Chetan Bhagat gets trolled” and that is where I have a bigger problem.
You are very vocal about issues in the country.
I think that is what a writer should do.
But you have mellowed down in the past few years and you are not as vocal about the same issues as you were a few years ago.
Maybe because I am getting older. I am a human being and as you grow older, you become calmer. I think I also became focused on my work. Honestly, 15 years ago I started writing and of course, and 29 vs 44 - you can’t have the same anger. I am happy I have grown, it is ok some feel that I have become more mellowed down. It is good. Why should I be angry all the time? (laughs).