What Made Chetan Bhagat’s Novels So Popular & Loved Despite Being Very Substandard For An Avid Reader?
For a beginner, stepping into the world of readers might get overwhelming. With tons of remarkable works and even more outstanding themes, the club seems full enough.
People embarking on the journey to the great world of books find some authors that help make the initiation process a bit easier. The same is the case with India’s contemporary writer, Chetan Bhagat. Although far from excellence, his works resonate with the common man.
Now, a habitual reader, like myself, will at once discard the thought of indulging in the said writer’s books, but the fact remains. His words, being simple, in layman’s terms, help the novice readers enter the faction.
Not to mention the masala his work promises. So it’s safe to say that he’s here to stay since almost every brown household is a sucker for drama and chaos.
As if his works are made only for Bollywood. Also, if Bollywood continues making movies on bestselling books, then R.D. Sharma and R. S. Aggarwal aren’t far behind.
Plus, novices despise having to use their own imagination or intellect to grasp the allegories or the literary devices that a good writer uses. Hence, the popularity of the writer in question.
Is There A Dearth Of Good Writers?
Surprisingly enough, we have plenty of admirable writers who are not only skilled enough but also exemplaries when it comes to compositions. The fact that some (or many, in case Indians are to be considered) intentionally opt for mediocrity, leaving behind excellence, is beyond my understanding.
But with excellence comes mediocrity, and despite the lot of us constantly jeering and scorning at the general choice in writings, mediocrity seems to be the preeminent aspect amongst the finest of works. As does the resonance it draws from the novice.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is no defamation blog. In fact, the very fact that a mediocre writer has gained mass popularity despite such terrible compositions is amazing – amazing with the whole raised eyebrow look.
I explicitly remember a senior of mine bringing in Five Point Someone to the local book club one fine day in 2011. And mind you, her sanity was the talk of the town. I supported her and even defended the man himself, but again, back then, I liked Anu Malik. And that speaks for itself.
Talking about the charm Bhagat’s books have is hard. The reason being, of course, my resentment towards reading bad work altogether. Without reading the book in its entirety, and skimming through it, I noticed a certain pattern.
His consistency in relating his work to his real-life seemed to be the first thing that caught my eye. Next was his marketing plan that was an exemplar in itself.
Alas! If only his work was as nicely put together and as well-written as his marketing plan.
Does Bestselling Equate To Best Writing?
Being India’s bestselling Contemporary English author, Bhagat has indeed come a long way. With no writing skill and absolutely no literary sense, his works have sought glory solely on the basis of drama, chaos, and masala.
Being a part of the minority among Indians who apparently found his works interesting enough to not only promote but also recommend, I kept my mouth shut about the extreme boredom and displeasure and refuted it all along with a few other literary enthusiasts.
Let’s not even talk about his other books. The Three Mistakes of My Life (a mistake in itself), Two States (mediocre at its best), and Half Girlfriend (I read half of this, i.e., quarter girlfriend).
One thing is for sure, bestseller does not equate to best written.
Why Does Young India Want Mediocrity?
Looking to gain some credibility as a writer, Bhagat’s What Young India Wants aimed to undo the damage of his earlier works. Yet, he failed as a self-declared spokesperson for India’s youth. His take on the nation’s issues has been as terribly researched and pointless as his writings.
“More than anything else, we want to teach Pakistan a lesson. We want to put them in their place. Bashing Pakistan is considered patriotic. It also makes for great politics,” said the man on dealing with Pakistan.
As for voting, “We have to consider only one criterion—is he or she a good person?” is what he believes. And in my defense of finding the compositions of the writer displeasing, I’d like to quote him once again.
“What young India wants is meri Naukri and meri chokri,” said Bhagat while promoting his book What Young India Wants. The overly simplistic views and mentality this man possesses are no joke.
Claim To Fame
Now, if I were to answer the question raised throughout the blog as to why is a person with such bad writing so famous, I’d simply like to remind you that the hallmark for mass popularity and marketing is mediocrity itself.
And his work speaks for itself. He is one of the Salman Khans among the few Irrfan Khans. Mindless and simple stuff is what the generation demands and he is here to fulfill the need. Plus, constructive criticism is an expression he’s foreign to as of yet.
I’d even go on to say that his books are somewhat of a necessary evil since one can know the essence of, and appreciate true writing only after having gone through its counterpart. After all, it’s your literary evolution we’re talking about.
No amount of marketing plan or remedial book (that ironically enough, furthers the damage) can add him to the elites of the literary arena. Yes, his work has a mass following. But that’s about it. On the other hand, I think he can do well as an author if only he reads other books instead of his own.
Like I said earlier, the number 1 on the bestsellers’ list has ceased to faze me and my fellow readers. Personally speaking, excellence in obscurity is tenfold better than mediocrity in popularity.
But hey! Who am I to advise? You do you. Whatever resonates with you, go with it. Read to fill your heart, whether it be following the herd, or being introduced to good writing for a change.