Chetan Bhagat is a polarizing figure: an icon who democratized Indian Writing in English for the masses- made a first gen literate person to read ‘Inglis’ and make it cool to brag to your girlfriend or He is demeaned by the literati for being not writer enough as an Amitav Ghosh or Hari Kunzru. Chetan along with Amish have re-defined Indian Writing in English for the domestic audience and not for the Literature Festival circuit crowd. For an IIT-IIM Banker Quant Geek to express the story of his life through ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘Two States’ were interesting, entertaining reads that had a genuine connect unlike ‘Revolution 2020’, which had the punch for a Phillum Script rather than a book. But, Chetan speaks for the educated post liberalization India who aspires for class, even if the person is not born into class. ‘Cattle-Class’ is the new Class Mr. Tharoor (a minor disclaimer- i am a Shashi Tharoor fan).
Chetan has the pulse of new India, even if his writing can improve in terms of style. His writing involves the polar paradox of a beautiful rich girl and a rural boy, with generous dollops of sex in it (a crucial ingredient for entertainment of the masses). His latest Half Girlfriend, a read which I took three hours flat is entertaining; a love story of a rich girl searching for her identity and well meaning driven rural Bihari boy divided into Elite Stephanian Delhi, NGO sector Bihar and United Nations New York has a contemporary narrative of aspiration, love and globalization. A story which is aptly fit for a Bollywood Film, but one that has a real connect with the new elite and the upcoming masses. Romance in the age of globalization as i would frame it in one sentence.
Chetan should be sent to Rajya Sabha by the BJP and PM Modi. He is a great observer of our times, as a writer should be.