Monday, May 13, 2013

'It is a reflection of what every NRI man goes through' ~ Ketan Bhagat

This is copy of an interview published at

While his brother is the unarguably the most popular author of India. He, himself never wanted to be an author. Being an NRI, he underwent some different experience that he never heard of. Is it same as captured by Karan Johar on-screen or has he something different, unique and more to say?  

Ketan Bhagat better known as Chetan Bhagat’s brother has more to share - completely different from his brother’s. While his debut novel Complete/Convenient is about to release on 15th of May 2013. During an interaction with S. Anupam, Ketan avers, “Complete/Convenient is a beautiful mix of my life’s real experiences and my imagination.” Excerpts…

What did inspire you to become an author?

Even though I have been always creative, I never wanted to be a writer. Was too lazy and adventurous to sit alone and type endlessly. I was happy cracking jokes and making humorous presentations amongst friends and office events. In any case I was too busy travelling countrie and collecting memories – bungee jumping, scuba diving, yoga, sky diving, snorkeling, etc. 

Then few years ago, I went through a transformational experience. Something extremely intense and yet surprisingly common to my age group. Yet, I was totally unprepared for it. Had never read, heard or seen about it in books or movies. No one from family had told me about it as well. 

A thorough-bred NRI like me gave up a luxurious comfortable dollar-centric life and came back to India.Why? How? This was a story I wanted to tell. 

Easiest way was to write a novel as 1) it is cheap 2) it is practical (your boss thinks you are doing office work on the laptop) and 3) at least in my case, there was a writer in the family so it wasn’t considered a crazy idea J 

Is Complete/Convenient a fictional work or real story? How much it reflects your life? 

It is Fiction. However, it is based on real-life people and incidents that either happened to me or my friends, colleagues or customers. 

It is a reflection of what every NRI man goes through especially in the first few years of moving to a new country. I can’t think of any NRI who won’t be able to relate to the situations that Kabir, my main protagonist, goes through.

Book Cover

How much time did it take to finish? 

Little over two years. Mainly because I was neither a writer nor a reader. Till two years ago, probably Chetan Bhagat was the only writer I had read. On top of it, I could barely write a proper email. 

So even though the story was clear in my mind, it took a lot of rewrites, reviews and rewrites to get the content, flow, language etc right. 

Being an NRI story, how much would it appeal to the mass Indian readers?
I am not Chetan Bhagat. He is a genius and a master storyteller. I consider my writing style very average and lacking any ‘ooomph’ factor. 

However, I feel this story will appeal to every Indian because of the relevance of its topic. I haven’t met any Indian who has not thought of moving overseas. Yet, there is no realistic story on what actually happens when you settle abroad. It’s certainly not the way Karan Johar shows it in his movies. No one flies business class, zips around in a Ferrari and stays in plus beach facing bungalows. 

Also, I haven’t met any NRI who has forgotten India. Or the family of an NRI who haven’t made their share of sacrifices. Has any story, movie in recent times captured this? Even though there are more than 20 million Indians living out of India. 

Another USP of the book is that it tells the story from a man’s point of view. Most stories are either about women or about men doing only two things: either playing pranks in college or being superheros. Reality is that a lot happens in a man’s life post college and marriage. Men too go through tough times like mother and wife not getting along, office politics, financial crunch etc. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a young working man’s psyche. 

What’s your marketing strategy for the promotion? Any plan to promote the book at international market… 

Even though marketing is extremely important, my focus has so far being on creating a good product. I have worked extra hard in getting the book reviewed by about 100 random people and analyzing their feedbacks. I have been a salesman for almost a decade and so know that no customer wants to end up with a bad product. 

Now that the product is ready, I will start with promotions which would involve city tours, tying up with book stores and reaching out to as many book readers as possible. Thankfully, some articles have already appeared in newspapers about my book and few television appearances are scheduled, so there is some foundation already laid. 

Even though my initial marketing focus will be on Indian market, NRI’s have already starting showing interest in the book. I have just launched the eBOOK version at Amazon. Plus, I have shipped physical books to Singapore, Australia and USA. 

After Complete/Convenient, which are the current projects you’re working on? 

Nothing at this stage. I do have a story for a second book in my mind. Again something I have personally experienced and seen others experiencing. If Complete/Convenient gets a decent acceptance from readers, I will write my second book. If, for some reason, they reject me as a writer I will humbly ask for forgiveness and do something else. Don’t want to force myself in the market. 

Your favorite books and authors... 

My favorite authors/books are Salman Rushdie’s Midnights Children, Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri to Dubai and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. 

In the end...

Please read Complete/Convenient. While I don’t claim to have any exceptional talents but I have worked extremely hard on the book. I promise it’s very readable. ~ Ketan Bhagat.


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