• Understanding the Chetan Bhagat Phenomenon

    In 2010, I was in the 11th grade, screaming at the top of my lungs because I saw a lizard sprinting in my direction and I was scared it would mount my legs. The school heard that scream and obviously knows the story. Pretty stupid, right? In hindsight, so many things we do seem pointless and just plain silly.

    I guess that’s the same for everyone, whether you’re a reporter or a celebrity author.

    So this tweet of Chetan Bhagat somehow managed to pop up on my timeline yesterday. I wonder why, and then I remembered his new book One Indian Girl has just released and maybe some twitterati did the dirty work of digging up old comments.

    Some of the recent replies to that tweet:

    Now like I said, in hindsight, whatever we have done six years back, we wouldn’t approve of everything of course. But this conversation is not about that, but the fact that Mr. Bhagat has time and again proved to be a controversial soul. I don’t understand the guy.

    Mr. Bhagat has always been in the news ever since I can remember for his comments on anything and everything. Yes, he’s a hugely successful novelist, but there’s also the fact that the media has made him the voice of an entire generation. His statements often take the tone of a verdict, delivered.

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    Time and again, Mr. Bhagat has proved that he’ll make the news and get a gazillion number of retweets with what seem like fairly mundane, even silly comments. I don’t even know why people were reacting to a comment of his from six years ago, but it feels like par for the course.

    Have we somehow contributed to this whole creation of Mr Bhagat as a thought leader? Do you think his opinion matters, no matter how overconfident or random? Well, that’s the thing. Once you have something like 8 million followers on Twitter, and a national newspaper carries your column regularly, and you often appear on television airing your views, I guess we can’t afford to ignore you anymore.

    So yes, I find that original, somewhat dated tweet offensive — as a girl, mind — but I feel compelled to find out just why Mr Bhagat’s words resonate with so many of you. His novels aren’t selling themselves, right? I mean you’re buying them? I might just dig into the latest one — with its USP of a girl narrator! — and find out what makes the Bhagat machine tick.


    Feature Image Courtesy: indiatoday.intoday.in