We must confess, and right at the beginning, that we are learning to overcome our biases. In whatever way, that is. So, when we recently came across author-columnist Chetan Bhagat*s just launched podcast show, deeptalk with Chetan Bhagat, where he invites a list of accomplished guests for a heart-to-heart conversation about how they made it big in life, we decided to give it a listen. Somewhere, we feel this trope has run its course, especially post the pandemic, when we were exposed to a glut of podcasts that hoped to achieve the same: Tell us a good life story.
Incidentally, Bhagat also birthed the idea for this show during the lockdown. "I was stuck in a room during the lockdown, and of course there were no on-ground motivational talks [then]. Hence, I decided to make a YouTube channel and did some motivational videos. It soon evolved with me inviting more guests on Zoom. After getting a good response, I decided to take it more seriously and started a proper podcast," Bhagat shares in an email interview. The idea, he says, is to get "India*s biggest achievers and true starsâ¦ people you may not normally have access to in life".
The journey of his show being no different from many others, we went through the guestlist. Five episodes have released as of now. The first with filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, whose 2022 film Kashmir Files, controversy intact, became a sleeper box office hit this year. The immediate reaction, a result of our bias kicking in too hard, was to give the interview a miss. We*ve witnessed Agnihotri*s vitriol on Twitter, we could spare ourselves the rage he continues to feel, on behalf of his right wing family. But, we calmed, and taking a deep breath, hit play.
Fifty minutes later, sparing time to earnestly listen during our commute, we would be lying if we said, we weren*t intrigued by Agnihotri*s story. Growing up in a lower middle class family in Bhopal, he talks about always wanting to leave the small town and dreaming big. Even as he walks us through the ups and downs of his life, from advertising to television and Bollywood, which left him disenchanted, and also being a leftist - yes, apparently - at one point, you make sense, if not understand, why Agnihotri represents what he does and says today. The prelude, as they say, is always important. What*s interesting is that Agnihotri is also an odd mix in Bhagat*s curation, which mostly comprises entrepreneurs - Ritesh Agarwal (founder and Group CEO of OYO), Nikhil Kamath (co-founder and CFO at Zerodha), Vineeta Singh (CEO, and co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics) to name a few. Bhagat explains the choice: "Vivek has lived life on his own terms, taken the unconventional path as a filmmaker; he has had opinions, has had people judging him and yet came out a phenomenal winner with The Kashmir Files. I wanted to see how his mind works, and what was it like to hit such huge success. I was curious about him, and I thought he had lessons for others. That*s it really. And he is a lovely person who is a friend now."
Interesting as his choice might be, we think what the show is missing is enough representation, and more diverse voices with a range of experiences to share. We hope it gets there. And while Bhagat might be someone who has his hands dipped into too many pies, with not everything always working in his favour, on deeptalk with CB, he seems to be in control of the content. As a host he is a natural - his curious nature, the fact that he is a good listener, interrupting rarely unnecessarily, and his ability to ferret out stories even when his questions meander, makes this worth a listen. Like Bhagat tells us, "I love talking and I think a stimulating conversation is one of the big joys of life. I plan to do podcasts for a long, long time. I love it too much."
What: deeptalk with Chetan Bhagat