Does Chetan Bhagat Know English?

No prizes for guessing the writer who sold the maximum number of books in India. It is Chetan Bhagat, the king of paperback, who has created a record of sorts in the publishing history of the country by selling – hold your breath – 50 lakh copies of his novels.

Starting with Five Point Someone to the latest Revolution 2020, all his five books have become a rage with the youth of the country. Five Point Someone made as 3 Idiots has created box-office history. Two States is being turned to screen by Saif Ali Khan.

Chetan with wife Anusha

The latest book Revolution 2020, selling like hotcakes in India, has already been lapped up by UTV Productions for screen adoption.

Despite all these achievements, all this money and all the recognition, the 37-year-old Chetan Bhagat has been panned by critics for the lack of high literary standards that the Indian writing in English is known for.

Shashi Tharoor, the former diplomat and highly respected writer, however, feels otherwise. “Chetan Bhagat may not use many big words, but he does have a big idea; to write books that people (Indians who do not want to read literary fiction) will pick up and relate to, in prose they can understand without feeling they are being talked down to …” he explains.

Bhagat, a Punjabi, married Anusha, a Tamil Iyengar, after a melodramatic courtship during their IIM days, and their love story became Two States.

In an interview, Bhagat said he never felt offended  by critics, who panned him for his ‘low-brow’ themes and style, but feel insulted by the derisive comments made against his readers. “It makes me angry when some people comment on the intelligence levels of my readers,” he burst out.

He also said that he never bothered to teach Punjabi to his children, though his wife makes it a point to teach their two boys Tamil. “Iyengars are very particular about teaching their language. That way, I am secular,” he said, without explaining what he meant by secular!