An exclusive interview with Chetan Bhagat

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Love him or loathe him, there’s no ignoring CHETAN BHAGAT, author, screenwriter, producer, dance show judge and now even a TV show host! He tells SHAGUN GANDHI that human relationships fascinate him.

From being an author to being associated with film and now a TV host with ‘Two States’; how does it feel?
I believe in spreading my ideas and my creativity to people and I’ve never felt that if I’m an author, it has to be only through books. I feel my ideas should reach out to other people, which can be done through books, films, television, Internet and even oral telling on stage. Fortunately I’ve been accepted in multiple mediums. I’ve done TV shows before; this is not my first one. This one was too compelling to me.


Your new TV show will deal with stereotypes and the challenges mixed-cultural couples face in India. To what extent would you be interacting with the couples on ‘Two States’?

I’m not interacting with the couples in the show. I’m the anchor of the show; I’m watching the footage and reacting to it. So I’m not influencing anybody. I’m seeing the footage that they have edited and shown me. Largely it’s a very sweet show so there’s nothing scripted because it’s not that kind of a loud show where people are fighting or throwing things at each other. It’s the simple things. So it’s largely unscripted.


What was your biggest challenge in this journey?

Firstly they are not only doing a new show but it’s on a new channel. ‘Two States’ is one of the flagship shows of the channel. So it’s a big responsibility in a way. But it’s exciting also. And I believe content is what matters.


You have written the story and screenplay for KAI PO CHE!, 2 STATES, KICK and HALF GIRLFRIEND. Do you see yourself directing a film in the near future?
I saw Mohit Suri direct now on the HALF GIRLFRIEND sets. I’ve been there on the sets, behind the cameras for 30 days non-stop. I don’t think I have the technical knowledge to figure out how to compose a shot. I’m a co-producer in HALF GIRLFRIEND so I like the production aspect of it and I’ve worked in a bank for 11 years so I like that and the story. Producer-scriptwriter is a better fit for me than a director.


Any particular stars you wish to write a script on?
You know, I’ve been very lucky. Whichever stars I’ve wished for have acted in the films that I’ve written. Aamir’s THREE IDIOTS, Alia’s TWO STATES and Shraddha now… I would say Shah Rukh is on my wish list next. Having said that, I want to tell a story so whoever fits in the story, I go ahead with that. I do not work like, ‘Inke liye script likho’. No, I just can’t work like that…


So what about normal love stories inspires you enough to write a book on it?
Human relationships fascinate me. There are different authors. Some write Harry Potter books some write science fiction, murder mysteries, crime. For me ordinary lives are most extraordinary. Two ordinary people… and I can make their life into an interesting story. So in any love story there’s a lot to learn about people. So for me a love story is not only about love, it’s about understanding people, the dynamics. So I find it interesting and luckily the audience has also liked it.
Any new books coming up?
I’m writing a book that’s going to come out in October and the title hasn’t been finalised. The new book has more drama and less love story. And most importantly, I’m writing as a girl. We’re testing it with the readers and I was very scared about how the girls would react. But they love it! So even girls will be surprised this time!


What lies ahead…
We’re headed towards good times. I’m optimistic and I think we will have bumps on the road. It’s a very complicated country. But we’re definitely headed towards “Achche Din”.


Vision India

I personally want more economic growth and the youth to have more freedom, more choices and opportunities. India should be a meritocratic place…


Weak zones

It is tough to get consensus in India. A lot of people want India to be better. Everybody knows that there are problems, everybody wants the country to become better but how can it become better? – no one seems to agree. Somebody wants more socialist, somebody wants more capitalist. Some think we should do more for women whereas some think we should do more for the lower castes. There is no consensus and that’s why it takes too long for things to get done. So that’s the roadblock for us.


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