Author Chetan Bhagat talks to Harshikaa Udasi about his leap to celluloid and his goal of influencing people in a positive way
“Films are fun,” says Chetan Bhagat. “I mean promoting them is a cruise as compared to books. With my books, I am solely responsible. But with the films made out of them, someone else is!” laughs the author whose book The 3 Mistakes Of My Life is the third from his repertoire that has made the leap to celluloid with Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che releasing February 22. The first was One Night @ The Call Centre that was made into the you-blink-and-it-sinks Hello and the second was Five Point Someone that turned into the blockbuster 3 Idiots.
“The only pressure is that I am answerable to my readers and the films have to match their expectations. I haven’t seen the final cut but from the comments it is getting on YouTube and other social networking platforms, I think we have done a great job!” says the author who has also co-written the screenplay for the film.
While the basic premise of the book and its characters Ishaan, Omi and Govind and their friendship against the backdrop of cricket frenzy and the Gujarat riots remains the same, Abhishek Kapoor has admitted to having tweaked the plot to cinematic requirements. This also included giving the character of Omi an almost complete overhaul. Ask Chetan how he feels about that and he says, “It was in consultation with me. I was part of the screenplay so I knew exactly what was being changed. See, the book is packed with sub-plots and the film can’t stretch each of them, so it’s totally understandable.”
Chetan’s books are a big draw with filmmakers as most feel his books lend themselves best to cinematic style. “I write compelling stories that have universal appeal and it’s quite flattering that filmmakers feel the books are good enough to convert into movies. But at the same time I’d like to say that I write what I feel like. I don’t write because I want it to be made into a film. If it does, that’s great. If not, big deal. I have written on call centres when they were frowned upon, on Gujarat riots, on failures in IIT. If I had to write only for Bollywood, I’d be churning out only mushy love.”
He is currently penning the screenplay for Salman Khan’s Kick and his latest novel 2 States: The Story Of My Marriage is being made into film by Karan Johar and will star Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Bollywood certainly is in no mood to let go of Chetan. “After the success of 3 Idiots, the interest about my books has been ever so high. I think soon there is going to be a measure of the box office power of Chetan Bhagat!” he laughs. “But seriously, I just think my stories are about ordinary people. I may be presenting it in a popular way but simplicity is the base of it. My fans love it and I want to build that fan base.”
The author says that he also wants to influence people. “I’d like to drive home a few important points. I don’t believe in being preachy. If people read me often, I’d be able to make them see the necessity for cleaner politics and better and more inclusive education. That’s my goal.”