Friday, August 21, 2009

Chetan Bhagath is the 21st Century R K Narayan!

I have just finished reading 'the 3 mistakes of my life" This is the story of three 'guys' from Ahmedabad, about how they face life, set in the background of Gujarat Riots. The Novel, like the earlier ones of Chetan Bhagath, makes reading an exciting affair. And as I finished reading the Novel, I suddenly realize that no Indian English Writer has the craft Chetan has. And it suddenly dawned on me that he is today what R K Narayan was then.

I admire R K Narayan. I admire him for his understanding of the time about which he wrote. I admire him for his ability to capture the imagination of the audience. I admire him for making people want to read. I admire him for writing in a very simple and unassuming language about every day life. I admire him for bringing hope into people's lives through what he wrote. I admire Chetan for similar reasons. And I don't have to think twice to say Chetan is the R K Narayan of our times.

I admire Chetan not because he wrote three 'blockbuster' novels. It is not just because of his popularity I admire him.I admire him for making the MTV Generation, the Generation X, to want to read. The same way Narayan did years back. Narayan made a generation of youngsters want to read.

Yes, you can argue that IIT or Call Centre or Cricket is not literary material. That is the saddest thing about the Indian Literary Critics. They think only Magical Realism can be literature. They think something can be considered Indian Writing in English only if it has Colonialism as its background. May be they also thing only the absurd can be literature. But to me, literature is also what R K Narayan and Chetan Bhagath write- the simple everyday life. It is literature to me because it engages my mind, fires my imagination and makes me want to read more.

Look at 'the 3 mistakes of my life': It is about how Cricket is a part of the everyday life of many Indians. It is about how religion is something that we can't live without and how certain people, politicians to be specific, take advantage of that fact. It is about the middle class dreams and aspirations in a Liberalized and Glogalized India. It is also about how Indian Youth relate to and respond to the present Indian Socio-Cultural, Economic and Political Milieu.

The same way R K Narayan wrote about middle class and lower class existence in Post-Independent India, Chetan writes about the middle class existence in Post-Globalization India. What ever their theme, both are writers who mesmerized the generation of readers they targeted. Both are writers who made their target audience want to read. True, both have a ready made readership - people who would surely read what they write. The fact that both of them could find out who that readership was, and write for them is what makes them both a class apart!
Images from Wikipedia and


  1. I have read two books of Chetan Bhagat. One night and 5 point. I loved One Night! I haven't read three mistakes but I have bought it long time a go. I will read it now asap! I liked this post!

  2. thanks for reading pra :) I'm sure u'll like 3 mistakes too :)

  3. Hi Sojo,
    I am a huge fan of R.K Narayan. I took to writing short stories after reading his books. I like Chetan too. The similarity between the two i feel is their language is simple and easy to understand. The story takes the centre stage and not complicated words. I feel sad how some authors forget writing is about story telling and not showing off English skill. Words for me are just transporters of the story, the thought from the writer to the reader.

  4. Thanks for reading Harsha. I like Chetan and RK for making two generations of youngsters addicted to reading :)

  5. Hey,

    I agree that RKN and CB write on/for contemporary comman man in unassuming simple english.
    But when it comes to expression of language RNK is very economical and classy where as CB's is mostly dialog driven like pulp-fiction.
    I am not undermining CB either. He has his knack of connecting with his readers.
    Anybody after reading RKN or CB would be tempted to pen a story.