Sunday, April 21, 2013

My story begins where Chetan's end- Ketan Bhagat!!!

This interview of Ketan Bhagat was published in DNA newspaper on 18th April, 2013. Do read it HERE.

How different is your style of writing from that of your brother? 
Our styles are very different, while Chetan writes in the first person I write in the third. My stories begin where Chetan’s end. He has a knack of connecting with the youth with his books and writes about the struggles that the youth are facing, career choices they have to make and relationship issues that they have to deal with — things that shape your destiny. So, it’s not just the style but the topics that we write about too. I am not as talented as Chetan so I can’t write from a youth’s perspective. I have focused on different phases in my life, something every reader will identify with. 

Is it an asset or a liability to have him as a brother?
Both I guess. The reason you are speaking to me or are curious about me is because Chetan is a brand who has a huge following. So, my connection with him in that sense is an asset. However, it is also a liability because he is very successful and comparisons will be made — a debutante will be compared to one of the most popular authors in the country.

You know he gets ridiculed a lot on social networking sites... Does it happen to you? 
Yes, it happens all the time and instead of taking offence I enjoy the creative ways in which people criticise me. I remember someone criticising Chetan’s novels and then commenting about how horrible my work would be as I have admitted that I am not as talented as my brother. However, I do have a sense of humour that helps me sail through the barbs and take criticism with a pinch of salt.

Would you ever write a film script?
I became an author by accident. A story kept haunting me and I decided to write about it with my first novel. While I have wrapped this one up I have already started jotting down points for my second novel and I will be busy with that. Having said that I believe you should never say never as you can never predict how things will unfold.

Which Indian authors do you admire?
I enjoy reading books by Salman Rushdie. In fact, Midnight’s Children is one of my favourites because of Rushdie’s command over the language and the ways in which he presents stories and builds a narrative. 

Name three books that every guy should read.
That’s a hard one. The reason I wrote this book was I could not find any novel out there that truly captures what a man goes through in his relationships. Whether it’s what happens after marriage, seeing your wife and mother fight at times, being a victim of office politics, or deciding between a comfortable life or a convenient one — all of this is generally told from a woman’s perspective never a man’s. I wanted to present that untold story through my work.
You have earlier spoken about the title of your book 
Complete/Convenient. Has moving to India helped you feel complete and what is it about this country that 
completes you? 
Yes, it has. I am very happy and content with my decision to come back. I think when you step out of India, you see things from a different point of view. You begin to miss things that you have taken for granted all your life. Whether it’s your family, circle of friends, social network or your maid or the labourer who comes to your door to help in your chores, you realise how they add to your life. I am not saying that India is perfect. It has it flaws – widespread corruption, bureaucracy and overflowing problems – but feeling complete does not mean perfection. I think it’s the process of knowing who you are, what you want and finding your place that completes you.

You have dabbled in a lot of things from being an anchor with Doordarshan, a scriptwriter, software developer at the same time helping your wife run her yoga classes and sales. Now you have decided to pen your experiences and have written a book. When you look back how do you think working in such varied fields has helped you? 
I can best describe my life’s journey as a spicy mixed vegetable. I started off as a waiter. I cleaned toilets in a five star hotel, and then moved on to become an anchor and finally a writer. All my jobs helped shape my personality. Because of my varied experiences I can empathise with people and step into their shoes and see life the way they see it. I think, that has helped me as a writer.

Tell me a bit about your book 
The story of my book 
Complete/Convenient is about a young couple who migrate to Australia for a better life. The novel neither glamourises NRIs nor shows them as victims. It just presents different situations that most NRIs go through. While it’s fiction, it is based on real life characters and incidents. It looks at an existential dilemma that NRIs sometimes face when they have to choose between a convenient life abroad or a complete one back home.

In an earlier interview, you spoke about Chetan being a prankster as a kid. Could you share an incident that you 
My mother had this red sari and we had a phantom mask. When worn together it looked quite scary. Chetan would go around wearing that and would hide behind trees and scare kids. He also convinced me that I was picked up from a dustbin.

Finally, how would you rate yourself as a writer? 
I think, instead of me rating myself I would want my readers to decide. I think I am an average writer. There is nothing exceptional or extraordinary about me or the way I write. I am here to tell a story, the way I see it, drawing from real-life experiences, hoping to touch a chord with people.

Melissa D’Costa

Published Date:  Apr 18, 2013


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