What he does know is that he has had some sort of impact over his audience, specially the youth. And that’s the reason Chetan was forced to move out of his comfort zone — fiction writing — to bring out a non-fiction book on national issues that concern the youth. CS caught up with Chetan on books, controversies and more:
Meri naukri, meri chokri
It’s not easy to get a good job or to marry someone of your choice. If you want to connect to the youth, you must connect to these concerns. If we’re talking of a good job, then you need a good economy, a good judicial system — then jobs are created. If you want to marry someone of your choice, you need a society where there is a lot of respect for individual freedom. All these micro issues get linked to the macro ones.
I don’t think there’s anything great about me. Some journalist once told me that I’m like ketchup. It will never win a gourmet award but it goes with everything. It’s really just that. The books are very accessible and can be read even by someone who can barely understand English and someone who’s a professor alike. Maybe not the best writing but definitely not the worst either. I’ve heard that when NRIs come to India, they pick up pickles and Chetan Bhagat books.
People have come behind me like villagers with flaming torches! (laughs) There are two kinds of criticism — one of my work or craft and second of my opinions. It’s not possible that my opinion will be agreeable to everyone. I don’t think there’s any writer who’s made his mark in the world and never been controversial. But I have never used controversy to sell books.
Big screen calling
The characters come up in your head, you put them in a book, the book is read by so many people, and finally they come to life — it’s a very unreal feeling. But it’s not such a big thrill anymore. The bigger concern is that it should be liked by people. The first time I saw Salman in Hello, and in a way he was playing me — I thought it was quite cool. It doesn’t happen to many writers! (smiles)