The Chetan Bhagat Effect

I just finished reading Rohinton Mistry’s book – Family Matters and loved the book for its beautiful and sensitive portrayal of Mumbai, Parsis and family life in urban India. The book reminds me good old of  Jane Austen and her style of writing. The book is an extremely realistic, grounded portrayal of the family of a witty Parsi Professor. Am not going to write a book review here but will like to complain about the quality of new books by Indian authors in recent times.

I have loved reading Indian authors as they give us a better and closer feel of the time and place. Vertigo, Maximum City Mumbai and a lot of Salman Rushdie novels have long been my favorites. My last visit to Landmark though was a disappointment as I didn’t like what I saw of the new Indian authors writing in English. Some famous bloggers like Sidin Vadanakut and Amit Verma have also penned their books. Most of these books talk of how a college going or freshly passed out protagonist fights the world and gets a girl, money and fame.

I do realize that the authors need to churn what the publishers want and the publishers go by popular demand. But I think that churning out books like this helps neither the writers nor the publishers. True readers know a good book when the read one and these good books sell – irrespective of their price tag.

I think that the root of this problem lies with Chetan Bhagat. I believe that 100 Aamir Khans can’t inspire a wannabe to join films as much as what a Tushar Kapoor could. It gives immense self confidence and pride to anyone trying to become a silver screen star when they see someone like Tushar Kapoor being one. They all tell themselves that if Tushar Kapoor can do it, so can we. And so, while the Indian film industry has Tushar Kapoor for its idol, the Indian publishing industry has Chetan Bhagat.

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