'Content is king, marketing is queen'

Youngsters spiralled across three floors, recently at a mall, when Chetan Bhagat came to launch his work, Half-Girlfriend, to get a glimpse of the man himself. Jovial yet solemn and funny, yet grounded, he connected instantly with the youth.

Chetan called upon a boy, Apurv Kumar Jain, to launch the book and when Apurv’s phone rang during the launch, Chetan answered it and said, “Bahut important meeting mein hai.” The launch saw questions of a wide spectrum, from his journey as Chetan, the banker, to Chetan, the writer and his ‘half-girlfriend’. He peppered the interaction with interesting anecdotes by talking about his characters, which are a seamless balance between fiction and reality.

“I have invoked Lord Krishna’s name about 600 crore times as the main characters in all my books have names of Krishna.”

He also described his wife as his ‘rock’ and said that he found a passion to keep writing, after he started work, when he realised that he didn’t have time to do things he liked doing. When a member of the audience asked if his family took his career well, he said, “My saas had a problem,” and about his ‘half-girlfriend’, “Too many”, came the answer. 

‘Half-Girlfriend’, which is a social commentary on ‘English as an elitist language’, peppered through a love story, Bhagat told Metrolife prior to the launch, that he decided to write a book set in rural India as he found that many who read his book pick them up with a hope to learn English.

Timely as his releases are, as his previous book ‘Revolution 2020’ came out when the country grappled with corruption, and Half-Girlfriend is now the ‘new rage’, when the policy-makers are debating about English in IAS exam, Bhagat said, “I’ve just been lucky,”, when asked if such debates have added to the book’s marketing.

For someone who looks up to Dickens and Austen, when asked if he would like to be acclaimed in the literary world as more of a writer than a “marketeer”, he said he has never compromised on content despite the marketing of his books.

“You may market your book all you want but if it doesn’t have content, it still won’t sell. Content is king and marketing is queen.”

He never imagined he would ever be regarded a pop-culture hero or someday, a tag such as “Reading Before Chetan Bhagat” and an “After Chetan Bhagat era” would come up. “Marketing,” he winked and then wrapped up, “I just want to read a lot of books and write regularly.”

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