Chetan Bhagat has played the role of a dancer, banker, script writer and motivational speaker, but donning the hat of a politician isn’t on his wish list. With eight books and five films in his kitty since he burst into the literary scene in 2004, he now believes that he has a pill to solve India’s woes with his “Making India Awesome” latest work.
Offering practical remedies to poignant issues of poverty, unemployment, corruption, violence against women, communal violence, religious fundamentalism and illiteracy, Bhagat plays a messiah’s role for India.
“‘Making India Awesome’ is a work for non-fiction as I want to use my reach to spread positive thoughts about the country. We need to really get together and have the attitude of solving problems rather than blaming others. The question ‘What do we do to fix this’ is often what is missing in our debates”, Bhagat told IANS in an interview.
While his novels have inspired Bollywood films like “Kai Po Che”, “2 States” and “Hello”, his recent book “Half Girlfriend” is also turning into a movie directed by Mohit Suri.
Making no assumptions of his “stature” in literary circles, Bhagat said he is flattered when people say that he has lowered the bar in literature.
“I am, firstly, quite flattered that I am considered powerful enough to lower the value of literature and change the dynamics of the literary fiction space. I am a writer who writes like many others. I am fortunate that a lot of people read my work,” Bhagat said.
Pooh-poohing critics for stereotyping him as an expert in dramadies, the IIT-IIM alumni says his latest book is an attempt to use his reach to spread positive thoughts about the country.
“If it will soothe the critics, it would be great but really that isn’t why I wrote the book I am not the best author, I am the best selling one. I have never claimed otherwise and so I don’t know what is the issue really. We can all co-exist,” said Bhagat.
Though his role as a judge on the popular dance reality show “Nach Baliye” earned the wrath of his detractors, Bhagat said he has learnt to absorb the right feedback and ignore the nonsense. “If I want to be influential with my words, I have to reach every nook and corner of India. ‘Nach Baliye’ gave me that chance. It was a 13-day assignment and I am back to writing – and thinking about my ninth book. Time will tell if I sold out or used the show to enhance the reach and impact of my work,” he said.
Taking a stern view of the government’s attempts to ban pornography, the 41-year-old author reminded politicians that people know what to choose, just as they choose the government.
“One of the aspects of awesome India has to be awesome freedom and rights. Banning takes away those rights and such bans have no place in a democracy,” Bhagat maintained.
However, he has no firm view on the current debate on abolishing the death penalty.
On his praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhagat said he believed in praising when it’s due and criticising when it’s deserved.
“There are definitely aspects of the PM’s intentions and policies that are good for the country. At the same time, there are aspects of intolerance among some BJP supporters that is unsavory. Hence, I have commented accordingly,” ssaid Bhagat, who found a place in Time magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010.
Considering himself to be one who firmly believes in his work, Bhagat said he has to first love the story he plans to pen.
“I have never had a bloated writer’s ego about my image or whether I am persona grata or non-grata. These are all affectations. You do your work and hope for the best. Best or best selling, that’s for people to decide,” Bhagat said.