Reading different books is much like trying out new sex positions. Until you have tried it, you never know you will like it or not! Well, with this as my guiding motto I ventured into the world of Chetan Bhagat’s books. Published in 2004, Five Point Someone was the first book I picked. To tell you the truth, I read it during an overnight train travel and liked it too. My interest piqued and I showed the courage to read One Night @ The Call Center published in 2005. Though almost predictable plot, the new kind of language certainly made up for my mood of reading lighter books.
Then I did a ‘big mistake’ by picking up his third book The 3 Mistakes Of My Life. Personally, it was disastrous. This book failed to offer anything different from what he has already penned down. Surely, there were new characters with novel names and intimate scenes but they failed to hold my attention for long.
Being a member of a book club, I got a series of eye-rolling when I actually tried to discuss these three books with the fellow readers. It certainly proved the point I am not the only one who wants to stay away from Chetan Bhagat’s books.
Well, fast forward few years when I was unwillingly pushed into facing another book by Mr. Bhagat. Guess which one? Yes, 2 States. Though I won’t lie by saying I didn’t like the movie but the book was pretty flat with few hilarious one-liners trying to save its face.
After reading his four books I had this nagging feeling that his writing has a similarity with something. Then came his ‘masterpiece’ Revolution 2020 in 2011 and it hit me! Much like the sub-standard serials by Ekta Kapoor which runs on the old-wine-new-bottle formula, his stories follow the same path.
Slowly, I started picking the common themes in his writings. They were nothing but the elements that always sells. Yes, sex and slang! With very predictable plot line and modern lingo, his books created quite a rage among youngsters and newbie book lovers.
Upon digging further into his creations with Half Girlfriend, yes the same one that was turned into a pathetic movie, I realized there were some other factors at play too. To start with, the language is simple. Yes, his books don’t pose the need to keep a dictionary handy and hence is easily consumable. This would have been a commendable step if the content was not so mediocre.
Not only that, but his books often targets the Indian dreams that somewhere attracts the younger generation to connect with his stories. Moreover, the lack of better authors writing on the same subject gives him kind of a monopoly over this area. Not to forget, the pricing is really affordable!
Undeniably, his initial books did have some kind of simple charm that started degrading with each publication. Personally, as a reader, I also feel that his marketing strategies pushed his below-average products to the top of the bestselling chart.
The truth is Chetan Bhagat’s books sell! Be it because of his millennial lingo or sexual fantasies in theme. Often it seems that he never wanted to be the best author in terms of writing but selling. If that was his aim, then he did it smartly and achieved the same.
If you think about it, he actually opened up a fantastic case study for those who want to explore the world of marketing. To start with, he never backed down even after facing severe criticism for his writing. From getting trolled on social media to internet getting flooded with his memes, nothing deterred him. Essentially proving the fact, ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.
Also, his constant appearances on social media and later on Television (as a reality show judge and participant) shows that he understood the crux of doing a business – promotion. Hence, he fulfilled it by self-promoting himself shamelessly. After all, if brazenly promoting yourself can bring revenue then why should you care!
Talking about his writing, he has a clear set of audience and writes for them. It can be said; he tailored his products for the easy-to-acquire customers and achieved success with his foolproof strategy. He targeted the low-hanging fruits in terms of readers and took them all. Despite despising his writing, this is a brilliant move that’s certainly praiseworthy.
In conclusion, as a reader and book lover, I would say Chetan Bhagat’s books are absolute shit. However, his marketing in terms of presentation and selling of book surely presents us with learning lessons.
This is a very personal account of how I feel about Chetan Bhagat’s books and surely you might have a different opinion. The fans of Mr. Bhagat will notice I have excluded his latest book One India Girl from my list. The reason is nothing but the failure to conjure up the courage on my part to read a book which seems to be based on pseudo-feminism. Don’t forget to let us know about your views on the books written by Chetan Bhagat.