Chetan Bhagat, one of Time’s Hundred Most Influential People In the World, needs no introduction.
It is said that in whichever corner of India you go to, you will always find a shop that sells Eveready Batteries, Nirodh condoms and copies of Bhagat’s books (not necessarily in that order).
What Timur did to world history, leaving behind mountains of skulls and altering boundaries of kingdoms, Mr. Bhagat has done to Indian literature revolutionizing it in a way that people never thought possible, breaking the strangle-hold of the ivory-towerist, Humanities-graduate, Proust-reading Illuminati over the domain of English writing with his alphanumeric titles (Five point someone, Two States, One Night, Three Mistakes) bringing literary enlightenment truly to the “pIpL”.
I admire him for the vital role he plays in solving India’s urgent problems—like judging who will become Miss India 2010, his prodigious ability to block, that would put Jimmy “Padams” to shame and most importantly for his role as India’s modern day “reformer” as evidenced by what he is quoted as saying in an article titled “I am 90 per cent entertainer, 10 per cent reformer” [Link]
I tell 500 people how to do their job better everyday. People are inspired by me. Even if 10 people do it – that makes a difference and I succeed in my mission to change the system,’ he said.
I usually get my fix of inspiration from the TOI editorials he writes, where he brings nuanced non-cliched analysis, fresh ideas and totally out-of-the-box solutions for the problems of today’s youth. So today as I was reading one of his editorial gems (titled “The Great Indian Psychotherapy”) I was shaking my head in awe-inspired agreement till I came across something that had me shocked, as shocked I would be to see my name in the rolling credits.
And change does happen. In the 80s, we had movies like “Gunda” and “Khoon Pi Jaaonga”. Today, our movies have better content .They have changed. How? It is because our expectations from films have changed. Hence, the filmmakers had to change.
First of all, what movie is “Khoon Pi Jaaonga”? A fragment of a dialog from Garam-paaji made into a movie? A sequel to “Life of Pi”? A double bill of “Khoon Bhari Maang” and “Paap Ko Jalakar Raakh Kar Doonga”?
And “Gunda”, which was made in 1998 (another version made in 1969) is from the 80s? And even more importantly, “Gunda” is a bad movie?
I am sorry Mr. Bhagat you have just drawn my Prophet. And insulted the religious feelings of many others for whom “Gunda” is our only contact with a higher being. Sure it does not have the IIM-IIT lingo that your readers find so appealing but tell me if “khatiya khada karna” and “lamba karna” isnt all about “verticals” and “horizontals” and “London se sex ka goli” isnt about globalization, then what is? If you endorse One Night at a Call Center, why do you consider it down-market for real men to spend a night at Lucky Chikna’s “Call Center” Lataka Circus? Can your male heroes, all the Ryan Oberois and what nots, hold a candle to Bullah’s “rakhta hoon main khulla” masculinity? Or do they scream “Dekho na, dekho na bhaiyaa yeh log mujhe cher rahe hain” when twitter-fools fly on them with rude hashtags?
Even more importantly, for a person whose essential argument for his own excellence is that he is the “people’s choice” and “awaam kabhi jhoot naheen bolta” how is it consistent to call “bad” something that had the awaam’s approval in the 90s? Oh ok I get it now. According to the man, the tastes of the common people have gotten better over the years, presumably after being “reformed” and “inspired” by the great Indian authors and film-makers of today. Which is why good movies like “I Hate Luv Stories”, “Kites” and oh yes quite forgot “Hello” (Atul Agnihotri-directed celluloid masterpiece made based on “One Night”) are made now-a-days.
I wish though I could tell Mr. Bhagat at length, how the average crap level has stayed the same over the decades (I would say the sheer amount of crap has sharply increased as a matter of fact with more movies) with the only thing that has changed is that movies are technically sleeker and made to different formulae, as cliched thematically as those before but with a patina of fraud-profundity, making them more acceptable to a multiplex-going, Face-booking, Karbon Kamaal, Be-the-change, Masti main jeeyo, yeh hain Youngistan ka attitude, Bhagat-reading audience. I wish I could tell him, again in detail, how great movies like “Chashme Buddoor”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaron” and many others were being made in the 80s to go along with the trifling stuff, just to show that even then, audience tastes were sufficiently “refined”. I wish I could give more examples and make a more coherent argument but Gunda ka naam sunte hi usne khada kar diya hai mera, gusse se ek ek baal khara kar diya.
Zalzala jaag utha hai. Gang war shuru hone wala hai.
Our patience is at its end. Do chaar chaaye aat dus. Bus Mr. Bhagat. Bus.