‘I don’t take critics seriously’

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SWATI SHARMA
Published Oct 30, 2021, 12:55 pm IST
Updated Oct 30, 2021, 12:55 pm IST
If there’s one thing Chetan Bhagat enjoys immensely, it’s his popularity
Chetan Bhagat
 Chetan Bhagat

About the book

Book: 400 Days
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Westland
Pages: 352,
Price: Rs. 250

 

400 Days is about a missing girl Siya and her mother Alia’s quest to find her. Alia seeks help from Keshav and Saurabh, amateur detectives, who try to solve the case. Alia and Keshav fall in love and for the rest you have to read the story!” teases Bhagat. “The idea came to me because of how common it is to see phones and such devices in young children’s hands today. We won’t let our child talk to a stranger from the balcony, but do we have any idea who is contacting your child on their phones?”

Ever since his first novel Five Point Someone began flying off the bookshelves in 2004, renowned author Chetan Bhagat has managed to outlive most of his critics. Credited for having captured the pulse of the Indian youth, Chetan Bhagat has thousands of fans (and perhaps an equal number of critics who trash his writing).

 

The author, who isn’t afraid of being honest when it comes to analysing his own worth as a writer, says, “I don’t take critics seriously at all. They’re not credible critics; most of them have no idea what they’re talking about. I am glad I didn’t listen to them or my career would never have become what it is today.”
Though he’s popular for exploring the romance genre, Bhagat’s latest book is a thriller called 400 Days. It’s also the third instalment of his popular Keshav–Saurabh series after The Girl in Room 105 and One Arranged Murder.
400 Days revolves around the story of a missing girl Siya and her mother’s determination to bring her back even when the rest of the family has given up. A riveting read filled with mystery and romance, the book takes you on a journey of suspense, drama, forbidden love, affair, human relationships, friendship and more.

 

400 Days is my best book ever, maybe because I wrote it with complete focus as we were all in a lockdown”

With this book, Chetan has expanded his horizon, exploring themes of a missing child, dangers of the Internet and infidelity. “I feel 400 Days is my best book ever, maybe because I wrote it with complete focus as we were all in a lockdown,” says the author.

Whether revolving around romanticism or mysteries, the 47-year-old author’s writing is about offering an inside view via plots intricately woven to the novels’ settings. The writer, who with his simple, pacey writing has made reading an enjoyable pastime for many, believes it’s good to reinvent yourself.
400 Days is my 10th fiction novel,” he adds. “For it to carry the same excitement as the earlier books, I had to do something different. And I think I have a pretty wide audience already. It’s more to keep surprising them with new and exciting stuff. Also, I believe mysteries make for more gripping stories, which keep readers hooked to the book instead of their phones.”

 

“Mysteries make for more gripping stories, which keep readers hooked to the book instead of their phones”

His novels have inspired some of the biggest and well-talked about Bollywood movies like Hello (2008), 3 idiots (2009) and Half Girlfriend (2017). So, whom does he turn to for inspiration?
“India and Indians inspire me,” says the author. “Whatever happens in my country today becomes the basis for my stories,” says the author, whose books were adapted for Kai Po Che! (2013) and 2 States (2014) and who had scripted Kick (2014). “I want to use my reach and visibility for more than just entertainment. Fiction novels and films are great, but I feel writers contribute to public opinion and create changes in the country. It’s what gives my work meaning and is my reason to work hard.”

 

“Fiction novels and films are great, but I feel writers contribute to public opinion and create changes in the country”

Decoding the numbers in the title of his novels, the author says, “I am an engineer and have a banking background, so I come from the world of numbers. The numbers in my titles are to remind me of that. It has also become a tradition now and I’m told my readers enjoy guessing the next number.”

“i try to be disciplined and focus on self-development and ignore the rest. Whatever is productive and positive stays in my life; the rest is thrown out. I try to make each day count.”

 

Doing talk shows, writing regular columns, keeping in touch with fans via his site and social media, a day in the life of Chetan Bhagat looks like a lot.
“I wake up and have a tall cup of coffee while chatting with my wife. Then I spend some time on fitness — running, yoga or swimming. And after that, I get into my to-do list of all that I’ve to do in the day; it could be a block of writing, shooting a video for YouTube or doing calls or webinars. My work day gets done by the evening, and then the family gathers for dinner, spends some time chatting and watching TV or reading and retires for the day early.”

 

So how does the author keep himself entertained, we ask him. “When not reading and writing, I’d be out on a run or doing yoga, taking care of my family and reading motivational articles and books. I love to travel but we all know that’s difficult right now,” he says.

“I listen to a lot of music — English, Hindi and Punjabi. I read a lot of motivational or self-development books. I also enjoy several podcasts.”

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