The past decade had witnessed the rise of a new concept in India: the power of the ‘Common Man‘. It started off with politics, with the Congress Govt. making it their unofficial slogan. Wherever you go, you could see posters of the ‘Aam Admi‘! Apparently, the Party’s main objective was decentralization of power and empowering the common man, so that the Nation may rise to new heights. Then, it slowly spread it’s tentacles to Bollywood, with movies like ” A Wednesday” depicting how a common man, if he so desires, is very much capable of shaking the entire system. Then, came the Book publishing industry. Up till then, Shobhaa De was the national best seller. She was, and still is a noted social commentator. However, just then, an unknown, young IIT-D and IIM-A graduate burst onto the scene and changed things forever.
No one can deny the fact that Chetan Bhagat brought about a revolution. His books were sold for a mere hundred bucks whereas Shobhaa De’s paperback versions came for thrice that sum. His English was flawed. His plots were jumbled. But, they had a power to connect with the youth, for sure. I still remember when I started flipping through “Five Point Someone“, I couldn’t keep it down till I had finished the whole of it. I would have been a fool if I had expected Chetan Bhagat to be the Indian Chaucer, but thank God I didn’t! His subsequent publications had their own merits and demerits. His books acquired such an unfathomable fan following that soon, film makers from Bollywood queued up to buy the copyrights of his stories and depict them in a bigger canvas! After 6 books and 4 movies, the question that begs to be answered is this: Is Chetan Bhagat a better writer than a screenplay writer?
First of all, let me put it on records that I am not going to consider the movie “Hello” (The horrendous adaptation of Bhagat’s 2nd book “One Night At The Call Center“) for my analysis. According to me, it’s not a movie in the first place. It’s a disgrace and Chetan Bhagat’s script can’t be considered to be the only damping factor there. Next comes “Five Point Someone”. Vidhu Vinod Chopra bought the rights of the film and noted Director Raj Kumar Hirani was the capatain of the ship titled “3 Idiots“. The movie broke all records. It had literally captured the Box-office and made it it’s own. Amir Khan had a big part to play for sure, but Chetan Bhagat’s script needs to get it’s due. When you take away the grammatical errors and the jumbled sentences, and see the scenes bg played out in front of you rather than imagining it whilst reading, you get the impression that Bhagat might just have a thing for Screenplay!
Next came “The 3 Mistakes of My Life“. Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar donned the Producers’ hat this time and the hard task of directing the script had fallen on the hands of Abhishek Kapoor, the man behind “Rock On“. The movie was titled “Kai Po Che” and till now is my favorite of all the movies that have been adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s books. In fact, when I read the book, I was quite disappointed. I thought it lacked serious content and was quite haphazard at places, even by Bhagat’s normal standards. But, when I saw the film I was completely blown away. The story of 3 friends in the backdrop of Gujrat riots was indeed beautifully portrayed. True, music and cinematography had a huge role to play in that movie but I, for one, was amazed to see how matured the film was. It had actually made me shed a few tears, something which if someone had told me would be the case, when I had read the book, I wouldn’t believe! It was nothing compared to what I had imagined when I read the book and this speaks volumes about Bhagat’s ability as a Screenplay writer.
2 States is the most recent book of Chetan Bhagats’ to have hit the market. From the house of Karan Johar, the film has got quite decent reviews and this doesn’t surprise me. The moment I had read the book, I thought it had all the perfect ingredients for the perfect Bollywood potboiler and I stand corrected.
I am not against Chetan Bhagat writing books. He says he wants everyone in the Nation to be able to read in English, including a Rickshawalla and if that be true, he is justified in his efforts. He wants to inspire people, he says. This is true, too, because if he had not succeeded in carving out a niche for himself, then the likes of Durjoy Datta and Nikita Singh would not have had 10,000 Likes on their Facebook pages. However, I genuinely feel, he is a better screen play writer. His words when transformed into real life actions makes for one hell of a watch, more often than not. The reason behind this is very simple; Nouns, prepositions’, gerunds, infinitives are not his forte: Emotions are!