Friday 6 May 2016

Author’s Interview- Questionnaire with Ketan Bhagat author of 'Child/God'

In series of interviews from Indian Literary World  is this month have one more featuring  author from Indian Literary World
Ketan Bhagat author of 'Child/God'

I am like any regular 38 year old MNC executive in Mumbai. Weekdays are about sometimes surviving till the weekend. Life is like a post-paid sim card where you know you are burning far more than your capacity and someday, somewhere you will have to pay a heavy price for it. Yet, for some unforeseen reason you play along.

Weekend is about somehow finishing all the piled up tasks to manage a few hours of solitude and downtime and life now becomes like a prepaid sim card which you try to consume with as much efficiency and balance as you know you have only that much capacity to give.

When I was young, I always thought adult life would be more around thinking hard during weekdays and not thinking at all during weekends. That’s how school life is. Strange, how real life is complete opposite of what it comes across in dreams. 

Questionnaire with Ketan Bhagat 

How did you first get involved in with writing, are you an imaginative person?

People sometimes compliment me for my creativity. I, however, think that I am a philosopher hidden inside a stand up comedian. I first got involved in writing during my MBA days in Mumbai. A friend of mine was involved with a music channel and they needed scripts for a show. I cracked a few jokes at the audition and was selected. Helped me make good pocket money. After college, I left Mumbai and also this hobby.

Then years later, Chetan (my elder brother) dabbled into writing and ended up becoming the most popular and successful writer of his times. As Chetan kept climbing the popularity charts, many friends urged me as well to start writing again. But I wasn’t interested and was also scared. After all, my becoming a writer is akin to Abhishek Bachchan and Sohail Khan becoming actors J

Then five years ago I came back to India and somehow became old, bored and thick-skinned enough to look inside me on what would interest me now. That’s when I decided to plunge into writing again.  

What do you find most challenging about your writing?

My biggest challenge is to write something that I am proud of.

Nowadays it is also becoming about meeting expectations of the people. By the grace of God, ‘Child/God’ has garnered loads of appreciation. The flipside is that now people just won’t compare me with Chetan Bhagat but also my own past work.

What do you do when you are not writing?

A regular MNC job and motivational lectures keep my schedule fairly busy. I am also a serious student of the Holy Geeta. Bulk of my non-writing time goes in these three pursuits. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

Honestly, no idea.

Five years ago, my life was totally different from what it is today. Five years prior to that, my life was totally different from what it was five years ago and what it is now.

That’s the fun and that’s the scary thing about life.

How do you keep coming up with material / content for your story?

By observing my own life and those of people around me. Every person in this world is the protagonist of his story. Just be a willing audience and he would be happy to show you the entire movie J

Though my stories are fictional, they are inspired from real life people and events. The philosophy is also inspired from the Holy Geeta.

Any specific tips you have for new writers who want to make it big in the world of published books?

Nobody in life can plan to become big in anything. You can only aspire and work towards it. I meet successful people from many fields – entrepreneurs, writers, actors, singers, speakers, teachers, students, corporate executives, etc. – and till date I haven’t met anyone who knew how much successful and how much failure awaits us. Try as much as we might, life has a way of overwhelming us.

So do not write to become a celebrity. That is incidental. Write only when you have such a strong urge within that you have no choice but to write to be normal.

What’s the best thing a writer can give to his readers?

A fresh perspective. A writer and a reader have a strange relationship. They are complete strangers who usually never even speak to each other. Yet, a writer through his story can penetrate into the soul of a reader, an area where sometimes even the closest loved ones are not allowed.

A lot of people are interested in writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

If you want to make money, writing is probably the last thing you should do. You have better chance of becoming a millionaire by visiting casinos than offices of publishers J

What motivates you most in life?

The Holy Geeta.

The majority of the readers tend to take sides due religion and such other considerations.

Nope. The best thing about novels is that there is no censor board. Unless you are a celebrity writer like Salman Rushdie or Chetan Bhagat, you can get away with writing anything on anything.

What is the story behind the name of your book?
‘Child/God’ is a choice of perspective. A newborn baby can be viewed either a tiny, helpless, ignorant infant or as a manifestation of the almighty wise God. The 35 year old protagonist of my story views his 3 month old child as his guru and so refrains from teaching him anything. Rather he tries to learn the meaning of life from the child. His wife, on the other hand, views the same child as someone who needs to be taught the ways of the world. 

What are your views on increasing plagiarism?

It’s just a reflection of today’s mindset where results matter more than the means. Denial of someone’s right isn’t an issue anymore. Not being able to sell is an issue. So much that the one who sells is the star. Not the one who creates!

Three examples:

We live in times where the villains of the movie, for example Batman series in Hollywood and Dhoom series in Bollywood, are much more glamorous, cool and suave than the heroes.

We live in times where we do not know the names of JNU toppers but definitely know the president of their student union who has gone to jail.

We live in times where the biggest salesman of the anti-corruption movement is now a chief minister and much more popular than the actual creator of the movement.

Plagiarism is just the tip of the iceberg! The mindset of decoupling ‘means’ to ‘ends’ is going to produce a lot more innovative crimes in times to come.