Cinema

What gives Chetan a Kick now?

Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat  

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If there’s one thing common between a bestseller and a superhit, it has to be Chetan Bhagat. With every book of his made into a film, it's no surprise he was asked to write the screenplay for upcoming Salman Khan starrer Kick. As the film readies for release soon, archana subramanian catches up with the writer for a quick tête-à-tête.

Books to screenplay... why the shift?

I wanted to explore a new medium, take on a new challenge. Screenplays open the window for films, which reach a wider audience. I want to reach as many Indians as possible and influence them with my writing. Hence, screenplays seemed like a good choice.

So, will we see you pursue this more intently?

For now, I just want to learn more about the medium of films, and since I can contribute to screenplay, it is a good way to attach myself to a project. However, I will not be doing too many, since I also want to focus on my books and columns. I will do select screenplay projects and have, in fact, turned down several good ones.

Your books are ready recipes for movies. Do you take this as a compliment and how do you feel about the end product?

I do, because it means the story was understood clearly. Films are a big commitment in terms of money, time and effort. If people say this book will make a hit movie, it means it is worth that commitment, and that’s a huge compliment. How I feel about the end product depends on the film itself, but I have been lucky to have good films made of my books. The most recent, 2 States, was both a commercial success as well as critically acclaimed.

Do you write keeping in mind that your books might be made into movies?

Not really. Even my most difficult-to-adapt stories — like the one on the Godhra riots or the entire story happening in One Night at the Call Centre — have been adapted. I am not so worried about the film adaptation when I write a book; it’s just a nice, beautiful by-product.

How has it been working with the stars?

I don't really interact with the actors much; it’s the director who does that. Still, I meet them several times on the sets and maybe have little discussions about their parts. I also try to learn how they see screenplays and what they expect out of them, as it helps me write better.

What was the experience like with Kick ? What elements of Chetan Bhagat will your fans get to see?

Well, there are films and there are Salman Khan films. Kick is a complete entertainer, and when we wrote it, the idea was to make almost every scene entertaining. The response to the promos and the sheer size of Salman's fan base is a treat to be part of. My fans will see hints of Chetan Bhagat in the story, the characters, the setting and how well every character is defined.

People have voted you as India's J.K. Rowling. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

That’s a huge compliment; I am honoured to be compared to the world's best writer. I don’t know where I will be five years from now, but I feel my best work is yet to come, and so am motivated to work harder and better. You will probably see more stories from me, and in various mediums — books, films, internet and even TV.

You seem to have a huge fan base. Do they ever give you ideas for plots?

Yes, they do. I am inspired by the youth of India. I go to coffee shops and overhear conversations that give me ideas for characters, scenes, dialogues, etc. Even if no one person forms the entire story, they could inspire a part of it.

How important is it for you to stay connected with your fans?

Staying connected is everything. It helps me know what people want, what they think and allows me to communicate with them. I do this by being flexible and adaptive, and constantly innovate in terms of new ideas and stories. So far, I have kept them happy. I hope I can continue to do so.

Tell us if there's another novel on its way.

Yes, indeed. I have a new book coming out in October, and it is in its final edits now. It is as they say, ‘an out and out love story’.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:13:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/what-gives-chetan-a-kick-now/article6229100.ece

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