The news of Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘Five Point Someone’ becoming a member of an elective “popular fiction” course in Delhi University did not settle down well with Indian readers. With over 6 novels under his belt and multitude of controversies surrounding him, Chetan Bhagat reputation as a writer is not the kind of bio-data any budding writer desires to have. However, if we measure success according to the number of movies that has adapted from his novels, rest assured, Chetan Bhagat has become the novelist face of the cinema. How bad it is for our education system, therefore, to inculcate an author of a writing value which is mostly considered as a “timepass read hai bhai, ek din mei khatam hojati hai”?
When Chetan Bhagat came into the market as an author, growing youth found a relatable value to his stories: trying to make a name in whatever task they wanted to make a name in, the soft and hard (yes, pun intended) beginnings of relationships, fantasy and sex, experimentations with existential questions, and most importantly, of friendships. If Chetan Bhagat had to fail he would have, but his success as an author clearly shows that he wrote the right kind of book, at the right time. Whether a fictional note succeeds or fails is, indeed, fairly dependent on how well it models the needs, desires and wants of the generation it is released in. I remember how I was taken by his books when I came across it as a 16 year old but soon, I immediately discarded it off as poor literature. The very generation that despises and tries to separate itself from Chetan Bhagat, was the same generation that made him popular as a novelist.
To know the value of literature, it should be questioned over time. A good reader knows the trick: one has to read all sorts of texts to really understand the difference between good and bad literature. Chetan Bhagat books became famous for more than the reason of it being written in simple English and bringing his texts into an academic setting can question whether or not he really is an author of taste or not. A classroom is a battleground of imaginations, critiques, opinions taking shapes and an opportunity for a literary text to be repainted with lens of an objective and subjective reader. Even though I ardently believe that Chetan Bhagat should simply not entertain the idea of writing, I also believe that a work of fiction, irrespective of its quality, should be read in order to understand how to not write it.
All Hail Readers.