‘The most popular English language novelist in India’….

Chetan Bhagat catapulted to instantaneous fame with his first novel ‘Five Point Someone’ in 2004. India was dumbstruck at the sheer thought of an IIT/IIM graduate penning down a novel. This also helped him soar through the publicity ratings. Five Point Someone revolves around the lives of three students studying in India’s most prestigious temple of knowledge – IIT. The book reverberated with everywhere who underwent college education in the sub continent.

Today, Bhagat is four books old and has successfully managed to break the boundaries that demarcate literary work in India. Rupa Company, Bhagat’s publishers accredited him with the title, ‘the biggest selling English-language novelist in India’s history’. There is no dearth of titles that India has magnanimously bestowed on Bhagat. ‘Writer of the masses’, ‘Writer that made India read again’, The Times of India said, ‘a rockstar of Indian publishing’. Difficult to deem that Bhagat outsold Kushwant Singh and RK Narayan. Inevitable question, what makes more than a million people buy Chetan Bhagat’s books?

The young wordsmith thrives on simplicity. This can be clearly seen in his linear narrative style of writing, the choice of vocabulary, the plots and twists in his books. If your schooling was done in English, then you would never need to use a dictionary to read any of Chetan’s books. Effortless reading is a major crowd puller. The characters effectively strike an emotional chord with the Indian masses, especially the Middle Class youth. His characters, their lifestyle and social surroundings are carved from middle class Indians. Hence, you can almost complete the monologues of his characters at the same time empathize and root for them. This does make predictability far too high. Generous servings of drama and love, the mainstay of Indian entertainment is provided for sustenance through Bhagat’s books. Bhagat’s story telling abilities has charmed young Indians. His evocative, vibrant, simple and humorous story telling helps the character’s sentiments to echo within the reader. Character monologues are peppered with wisecracks and switches effectively from English to his regional tongue adding authenticity to the characters. Pricing has played a major role in the success of sales. All of Bhagat’s novels are prices under Rs.100, which makes it affordable to the Indian masses. Infact it is equivalent watching a movie in the theater.

Bhagat has discovered his niche. From his first novel, Bhagat has steered away from being a literary writer. His soaring popularity makes him a popular writer by profession. The critics really don’t have a choice in this.

You can read Bhagat’s interview with the NY Times here.

I have read Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, Three Mistakes, and his recent 2 States.

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