Letter to Chetan Bhagat

Dear Chetan

I expect you must be sitting at your desk and working on your new ‘novel’ right now , or touring cities for the promotion of Half Girlfriend or the best , agreeing to judge another reality show. That’s what literary giants do in this age , right ? Sure , you have earned a lot of name ,fame and must be rolling in money at the moment but inspite of every bestseller you produce , we have problems coming to terms with some of your ways. Let’s talk today.

This letter should be of concern to you because it is from a member of the youth , who you always say is your target audience. On the other hand , if you are a reader like me and have read the ‘path breaking’ stories born out of his mind , only to be turned into another clichéd Bollywood movie, this letter should strike a chord with you too. Let us , therefore , embark on this journey together and try to comprehend what we expect from one of the widely read authors in India today.

When you began your literary career , with that elite tag of IIT -IIM being indistinguishable from you , you proved to be quite a rage all over India. I have read 5 Point Someone and I agree with the novel concept you blessed India with. Let’s give you that accolade. It was the power of this unique idea that the book went on to become such a groundbreaking movie and earned praises from all over the nation. But , what after that ? What went wrong ? And why did the masses , whom you very fondly call the ‘elitistan’ groups of the society turned against you ?

I ‘ll tell you what happened. We don’t understand why can’t you do away with too much of erotica in your books. You need to explain an intense love making scene in the story , fine , go ahead and let us know what sex is like. But why forcefully add it anywhere you like? Rather than becoming a part of your stories, it has turned into the most awaited and probably the most read section of any of your books. From Ananya — Krish’s story to that of Madhav and Riya , has anything , at all been revamped ? The same story with a new book cover and a new name and voila a novel is ready for publication. In a nation like India where talking about kiss and sex has always been a taboo , your novels function as that guide which helps boys to explore all their fantasies , ever since they became aware of that wiener. Porn does the same , you know. This is what you have reduced literature and the culture of book reading to , and this is what we have trouble comprehending.

There are other prolific writers out there who have written hard hitting and realistic novels. But when your stories have dominated the market , who will read them? Booker prize winning Arvind Adiga’ s,’ A White Tiger ‘ will never be a bestseller like 2 States. Adiga didn’t stuff the book with sex scenes and talked of realism instead. Sigh, good for intellect but too bad for business. I don’t understand why your books have been merely reduced to Bollywood scripts. In all probability, you perhaps write keeping the big screen in mind. This is why Madhav doesn’t find Riya in New York ( always the rich cities , I tell you) for the three months he is there but stumbled upon her on the last night before his departure. I lost my mind looking for realism.

You are a writer. You should be exploring horizons and searching for new possibilities. What you rather choose to do is to stick to stereotypes and if you have read even one of his books , you will agree with the point I am trying to make here. All the Punjabis live in the rich posh areas of Delhi , all are foodies and all of them own big businesses and rolling in rupees. The generalisation of Biharis in ‘Half Girlfriend ‘ is disdainful. It is difficult to digest that everyone hailing from Bihar has a problem with spoken English and coming from a small town lessens your prospects when it comes to talking to a girl.

There is always the persisting question of why are other young writers who are considered to be at a lower level than him are not so harshly criticised. Yes , Durjoy Dutta , Nikita Singh and Ravinder Singh aren’t bashed because they never wrote a path breaking novel with a unique concept such as ‘5 Point Someone ‘. You wrote it and this is why the feeble ray of hope remains that you will do away with all your shortcomings and create something we can call literature. Perhaps , you can start using a bit of complex vocabulary through which the readers can learn. How about an attempt at pleasing the intellect than the senses , for a change?

I am concluding this with a quote of yours , let the non avid readers also know the stuff bestsellers are made of.

‘ Why should a guy want to be only friends with a girl? It is like being near a cheesecake and never eating it ; like sitting in a racing car but never driving it’.

You just compared a woman with a cheesecake and a car. Don’t wonder the next time someone outrages over your pulp fiction disguised as a novel.

Yours sincerely

An observant reader.

— Isha