Why the heck is Chetan Bagat a bestseller!


The past few hours, I have been awake, I have finished off Chetan Bagat’s lastest supposed to be bestseller – The Two States. I am pretty much amused that I have taken over one and half years to complete half of my PG Wodehouse collections, may be of the same size or a little bigger each, whereas I am finishing the almost same sized Indian Novel in hardly a day’s quarter. As I try to analyse why Chetans novels are so famous across India, I was pretty much amused with myself as to why I am so slow in progressing along the PGW books! Anyone in London’s biblio circle would definitely pay me a price to read them. Am I progressing slowly because they are of senseless British humour? (Sorry here, as I have just read a book with half of Punjabi humour), or slow because the fonts are slightly smaller, or because its of a foreign author, or a book of the bygone eras… and so on and so forth! However for once, for none of my essays for analysing arguments nor for any B School case studies, thought I would pick this one up. Why are Chetan Bagat’s novels a mega hit in India?

Chetan’s novel has graduated from Indian teens, students to working professionals. Although it has encompassed all aspects of their lives, his books have even covered the cultural sensitivity and ethnicity in India. Mostly his books have captured the active imagination of every youngster who reads it and probably imagines him or her to be in that situation as most of the people of the age group would go through similar stories. Of all his books, The Three Mistakes of my life, was slow and bad. I admit, I fell asleep and reading it was one of my life’s several mistakes.

Many argue, his books are in Bollywood filmy style. I disagree with that. It mostly is a piece of combination of the mazes of Indian culture. His first book was entirely based in an IIT and the happenings in an IIT! Indians dream to get into any institute with the Indian Institute/School of * tag. That made the masses who dream to read the book. It was well written and to some extent covered the life of IITians as desired by a non-IITian. It also mused over the teen life crises of an average Indian and well comparable to most of our lives. In the recent times, it was a great success by an Indian author and hats off to him for getting people back to reading books and taking time off the idiot box (at that time TV was still a box).

The next book One Night at a Call Center was just average according to my views. It largely concentrated on the sector providing employment to most of the youth of nowadays the BPO’s. Decently portrayed, the dreams of individuals, their aim to achieve them, coming out of their middle class blues, love, lust all the Indian audience wanted was just perfect. But a bit over-bored (No, I am not making a spelling mistake for overboard here), for me. The book was made into a movie and was a disaster in the box office, proving that his movies are not of Bollywood ishtyle.

The third book, took a direct dig at the situation in Gujrath at that time, it was the most boring of the three, portrayed on the life of a guy who desires to be the next Anil Ambani starting a cricket gear shop. Nice idea may be an inspiration to some, but has portrayed a negative image on Gujrath due to the riots. Just a decent book, probably signaling that Bagath was moving down south, from Delhi to Gujrath and next further down.

Yesterday, I got a copy of the Two States. Well I presume as my previous paragraph hinted, Bagat had moved south and way south to Chennai! The book has direct references to the North South divide in India, but in the end, portrays in a much better fashion that we are united however divided we are across our 30 odd states (I remember there were 26 or 27 when I studied, have lost touch now). The book again starts of with a dream of everyone joining India’s most prestigious management institute, the IIMA. Then on moves along the IIM dorms, portraying the love that got North and South together. Further down, it proves that anyone can survive in Chennai, which I still doubt and even covers the protagonist of the story working for Citibank, a dream of every MBA, to work in the finance sector. No matter what, it also proves that people do MBA without plans and re-emphasises the cultural difference and thoughts across India. At the, end the couple have a happy ending and Punjab shakes hands with TamilNadu. To me its the best book of the four and may inspire more and more cross state weddings in India.

This again is not Bollywood style. This is what happens in India. The book re-defines modern careers and the aspect with which people choose their careers. Bollywood never does that or its unnoticed in most cases. The book has references to Madrasis, Black people, Dosa, Idli all over, well I think some things never change. Time for people to identify themselves as Indians. However at a time, when the whole of the country is fighting over languages, the book is most welcome, hope the hero was a Marathi and probably the story would have ended up uniting two states which have fought the most over their language!

As I head back to my other books, I mark this book as a must read for most of you as its good and for some moment may take you out of your Plasmas or LCDs. But please note, I still detest working in Chennai or Madras, not because of the people, language, culture or anything.  But because of the weather!

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About amarharish
Was working as a Consultant for Five Years. Moved on to pursue a Masters in Management at Great Lakes, Chennai. Interests include Hi Tech, Brands, Quizzing, Leadership to name a few!

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