Sunday, April 21, 2013

My story begins where Chetan's end- Ketan Bhagat!!!


This interview of Ketan Bhagat was published in DNA newspaper on 18th April, 2013. Do read it HERE.


How different is your style of writing from that of your brother? 
Our styles are very different, while Chetan writes in the first person I write in the third. My stories begin where Chetan’s end. He has a knack of connecting with the youth with his books and writes about the struggles that the youth are facing, career choices they have to make and relationship issues that they have to deal with — things that shape your destiny. So, it’s not just the style but the topics that we write about too. I am not as talented as Chetan so I can’t write from a youth’s perspective. I have focused on different phases in my life, something every reader will identify with. 

Is it an asset or a liability to have him as a brother?
Both I guess. The reason you are speaking to me or are curious about me is because Chetan is a brand who has a huge following. So, my connection with him in that sense is an asset. However, it is also a liability because he is very successful and comparisons will be made — a debutante will be compared to one of the most popular authors in the country.

You know he gets ridiculed a lot on social networking sites... Does it happen to you? 
Yes, it happens all the time and instead of taking offence I enjoy the creative ways in which people criticise me. I remember someone criticising Chetan’s novels and then commenting about how horrible my work would be as I have admitted that I am not as talented as my brother. However, I do have a sense of humour that helps me sail through the barbs and take criticism with a pinch of salt.

Would you ever write a film script?
I became an author by accident. A story kept haunting me and I decided to write about it with my first novel. While I have wrapped this one up I have already started jotting down points for my second novel and I will be busy with that. Having said that I believe you should never say never as you can never predict how things will unfold.

Which Indian authors do you admire?
I enjoy reading books by Salman Rushdie. In fact, Midnight’s Children is one of my favourites because of Rushdie’s command over the language and the ways in which he presents stories and builds a narrative. 

Name three books that every guy should read.
That’s a hard one. The reason I wrote this book was I could not find any novel out there that truly captures what a man goes through in his relationships. Whether it’s what happens after marriage, seeing your wife and mother fight at times, being a victim of office politics, or deciding between a comfortable life or a convenient one — all of this is generally told from a woman’s perspective never a man’s. I wanted to present that untold story through my work.
You have earlier spoken about the title of your book 
Complete/Convenient. Has moving to India helped you feel complete and what is it about this country that 
completes you? 
Yes, it has. I am very happy and content with my decision to come back. I think when you step out of India, you see things from a different point of view. You begin to miss things that you have taken for granted all your life. Whether it’s your family, circle of friends, social network or your maid or the labourer who comes to your door to help in your chores, you realise how they add to your life. I am not saying that India is perfect. It has it flaws – widespread corruption, bureaucracy and overflowing problems – but feeling complete does not mean perfection. I think it’s the process of knowing who you are, what you want and finding your place that completes you.

You have dabbled in a lot of things from being an anchor with Doordarshan, a scriptwriter, software developer at the same time helping your wife run her yoga classes and sales. Now you have decided to pen your experiences and have written a book. When you look back how do you think working in such varied fields has helped you? 
I can best describe my life’s journey as a spicy mixed vegetable. I started off as a waiter. I cleaned toilets in a five star hotel, and then moved on to become an anchor and finally a writer. All my jobs helped shape my personality. Because of my varied experiences I can empathise with people and step into their shoes and see life the way they see it. I think, that has helped me as a writer.

Tell me a bit about your book 
The story of my book 
Complete/Convenient is about a young couple who migrate to Australia for a better life. The novel neither glamourises NRIs nor shows them as victims. It just presents different situations that most NRIs go through. While it’s fiction, it is based on real life characters and incidents. It looks at an existential dilemma that NRIs sometimes face when they have to choose between a convenient life abroad or a complete one back home.

In an earlier interview, you spoke about Chetan being a prankster as a kid. Could you share an incident that you 
remember...
My mother had this red sari and we had a phantom mask. When worn together it looked quite scary. Chetan would go around wearing that and would hide behind trees and scare kids. He also convinced me that I was picked up from a dustbin.

Finally, how would you rate yourself as a writer? 
I think, instead of me rating myself I would want my readers to decide. I think I am an average writer. There is nothing exceptional or extraordinary about me or the way I write. I am here to tell a story, the way I see it, drawing from real-life experiences, hoping to touch a chord with people.

Melissa D’Costa

Published Date:  Apr 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Read: “Complete/Convenient” Ketan Bhagat’s Debut by Udaipurtimes.com!!!




If we talk about the newest generation of our country, we’d find that a majority of enthusiastic youth dream to settle down somewhere in abroad, even if for pursuing higher studies. Something about this idea never fails to excite the ambitious. But is this opinion well founded? Is it really a dream life out there? This is the idea that Ketan Bhagat’s novel Complete/Convenient deals with and takes you through the interesting journey of Kabir, the protagonist in the story.

By the way, for those wondering who is Ketan Bhagat? Let me introduce him. Ketan Bhagat is a typical 35 year old middle class common man living in Mumbai. And, he also happens to be the younger sibling of India’s one of the most successful writers, Chetan Bhagat.

About his book, Ketan has opined on the lines that he has been inspired by the real life incidents. The story is about a working chap turning his life to face an entirely new set of challenges when he gets transferred to Australia.

After a helter-skelter wedding, he happily leaves his past behind to make a leap into the direct future to enjoy the fruits of his assiduously earned promotion. It is realized in the following pages that the guy, who works in Satyamev at a salary of 10 lacs and scored 96% in Maths in tenth class, has achieved his dream. But the story is deeper than that.

All Kabir, the lead character of the story, could imagine was a kingly life with crazy new adventures and an awesome amount of time on beaches. He never foresaw that soon he would start missing his homeland. That soon he would find solace in the colonies of Indian culture and talk about the people back home with the people he’s surrounded by now.

Ketan has marvelously attempted to paint the reader’s imagination with the kind of endurance Kabir struggles to find in himself. The quick flash-forward in the opening chapters of the book gives a fair and prospective idea about how the story is going to turn, and that is exactly what the reader finds.

The book never swerves off the path to its main plot and quickly passes by all the pertinent story-building experiences Kabir has to go through. Ketan deftly avoids over description where unnecessary and lands on to bigger things in almost no time. The romance is sweet and the office war is bitter, kind of like how it always is!

One thing to notice is the enticing description of the city- Sydney. After reading the extracts I referred to Ketan’s profile again to learn that he has lived in Australia for four years himself, which is a fun fact I think should be widely known. The book is written in a sometimes serious but largely entertaining tone. The character sketches are almost all lively and easily relatable and the way they act hits home.
I think the book can be expected to steer clear above the doubtful interpretations of the various generations of reader and make Ketan an instant hit writer, but as it goes without saying, the public reaction is always difficult to predict. The book focuses a particular portion of the large audience but it might connect with all types of readers.

I’d been provided a review copy for pre-launch review of the book, but the release date is expected to be in May this year.

I recommend this as a must read for all those who think they can get away dreaming to get out of our fertile country without pausing to think, and good read for all those who think they can’t get away at all. In fact, go ahead and check this thing out, because it will teach you things you had never considered before. And also because it has the potential to be the next thing everyone is talking about!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Dollar dreams of an NRI!!! Ketan Bhagat!!!




This is an Interview of Chetan Bhagat published at postnoon.com. Refer this link.

A sensitive guy with a great sense of humour, Ketan Bhagat is almost ready to launch his first novel — Complete/Convenient. Postnoon chats with the nervous wreck to find out more.

Competition among siblings is quite the norm—we practically grow up competing with our elder and, in-their-imagination, wiser brothers and sisters. However, competition at school level or even college might not be as tricky as one on a professional level.

Ketan Bhagat, who’s the younger brother of celebrated author Chetan Bhagat, is all set to launch his first novel next month. Titled Complete/ Convenient, the book focuses on the life of an NRI. Whether the book will change the relationship the two brothers currently share, only time can tell. For now, we give you the excerpts from a tete-a-tete with Chhota Ketan, who has his fingers tightly crossed.

Q. What compelled you to write the book? Was the success that your brother enjoys a factor?

Ans: I started writing the book in 2010, a little before I decided to move back to India, giving up my almost perfect life in Sydney. What an NRI goes through once he gets to live the dream he’s been dreaming is a topic that is very close to my heart. It was what I was going through personally that provoked me to write the book. Like the lead character Kabir, I too, was a typical Indian boy who always dreamed of going abroad and earning in dollars. However, there is a cost and sacrifice all NRIs have to make to leave their home country. My book is about that. It is a representation of what life abroad is like, it does not say if that is bad or living in India is good. It’s just a story of an NRI’s life through Kabir.

It took me about two years to finish writing. While I hadn’t started writing with the purpose of making a profit out of it, now that its release is barely a month away, I want people to pick it up. Chetan being what he is was a major factor, yes. But not because I wanted a piece of his success or anything, it was a factor only because he knew much more than me about the market. And, about writing in general.

Q. Did you consult your brother about the book? Has he read it? Do you think your book can cause a serious sibling rivalry?

Ans: Initially, he did say that I’d be ripped apart by the people and I needn’t get into anything in such a rush. However, after reading the book, he did say it was a good read and is very readable. Plus, both of us somehow can’t agree with each on creative subjects. We never have.

My intention is not to compete with my brother — I can’t. The way a newbie who wants to set up an IT Company can’t compete with Narayan Murthy, I can’t compete with my brother. He’s huge in India and I’m very happy about that. I just needed to pen down what I felt, and things just led to a book. Plus, a living successful example within the family was only reassuring.

Q. How would you describe a typical NRI life?

Ans: The book will answer that question. Anyway, everything in the book is based on real characters. It will give the reader a significant insight into the life of an NRI. It talks about how one is surprised by other countries that are so beautifully run, where one doesn’t need to fear cops, etc. But then, there’s that longing to return home. For instance, there is a chapter on what an NRI couple goes through during Diwali out of India.

Q. When is Complete/ Convenient releasing? Do have any ideas for a second book?

Ans: The book will release on May 15. However, the publishers—Shrishti — suggested that we release it online before that. I have a topic for another book though I had vouched not to write again, but it is too addictive. The next one might be about the relationship between a father and his child. Again, the topic is very close to me. I’m a very sensitive person and can only write about things that matter to me personally.

Q.Other than a passion for writing, what other similarities do the Bhagat brothers have?

Ans: We have very similar names, thanks to our non-creative parents. But, the similarity ends there. While he’s always been the topper in the family, I’ve been the one barely going through. Even when our parents were called to school, the reasons varied in my case and in his. For me, the teachers only had complaints and for him, it was always praise.

To know more about the author, you can log on: www.ketanbhagat.com

The Test Of My Life by Yuvraj Singh!!!


       
    Reading fiction and non-fiction are two different things. While reading fiction, you end up being in a world of imaginations but while reading a non-fiction attempt, you know that these things can specifically happen with you. Hence you read it with more determination and pleasure. You know that you can end up being a protagonist or experience the same events as mentioned in the book. I am just sitting after completing 4 hours read of Yuvraj Singh, the cricketer's autobiographical attempt where he tells us about his journey from Cricket to Cancer and how he fought the disease and ended up being a normal Cricketer again. The book is titled perfectly "The Test Of My Life" and has a tagline "from cricket to cancer and back". The cover page carries a very good image clicked of Yuvraj Singh with his shining eyes, black hairs, glowing face and an expressive positive attitude. It also has Sachin Tendulkar's reaction on the book "Pure Inspiration" imbibed on it. On the back cover, the reactions of Kevin Pietersen, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh and Saina Nehwal is mentioned. There's nothing over the shell of the book that can stop you from purchasing it except the MRP of the book which is 400+. But... Yuvraj's attempt and will power to let everyone know his story and life regarding cancer is something for which he needs to be applauded. 

              One thing that I am very much happy about is the way Yuvraj Singh has cut short events and kept the book of just 190 pages and didn't just kept writing and writing and writing as generally the autobiography of a sportsman is. He has used a very fluid language with no words, terms or abbreviations making us feel uncomfortable or inferior. He has talked as if he is one of us and that makes this book special. He hasn't shown any kind of arrogance or pride over himself while scripting his story. His simplicity and humbleness can be easily seen right from the very first chapter till the end. He has covered almost every thing- his initial childhood days, his initial training in Cricket, his selection, his winning moments, World Cup moments and finally the Cancer moments and then the recent comeback in Cricket after recovering from Cancer. :-)

             His father's behavior with him while training him for Cricket is something for which I feel pity for Yuvraj Singh. I have also been beaten by my father for studies but in that comparison, Yuvraj Singh is been thrashed more severely. The way he has opined about his parents' fights and arguments and then their separation is something one needs a lot of guts to do in a country like India. The way our very own Navjot Singh Sidhu said to his father that Yuvraj Singh does not have Cricket in him and the way his father reacted "Ab dekhta hoon tu cricketer kaise nahi banta hai" is interesting to know. The way he got selected and won the big tournaments in a very small age is another lovely part to read. The way he has described Sachin Tendulkar every now and then shows his respect for him. He has also taken the names of his favorite teammates with immense respect. He has not taken name of many of them including Dhoni which shows that they have not been much a part of his personal life. But maintained his integrity by not speaking anything against them. He wanted to speak about 2007 World Cup and the wrong decisions of captain Rahul Dravid but he choose not to talk about it. :-)

              The whole description of 2003 World Cup and then our epic 2011 World Cup including the Finale gave me goosebumps. His description about how he was struggling with his body but still working for the World Cup made me emotional too. Why a World Cup tournament is so important for a Cricketer is also explained by Yuvraj. He has shown his emotions for Indians who support Cricketers and make them feel good about themselves. He has also said about how media has manipulated the news and sometimes analyzed things by themselves and wrote and talked about him. This tells us how cruel media is sometimes. But he has also thanked media for the love that they gave him when his news of Cancer initially broke out. Later on his description about how his mother and he dealt with Cancer is something that will always remain with me. He has wonderfully shown how much a cancer patient has to suffer and what emotions he/she goes through. Even I am scared of this disease now. But as Yuvraj Singh has himself come out of it after losing all the confidence and will power also gives me an inspiration that even I can beat Cancer if I ever fall in this condition. 

            Also the training that he went through after the chemotherapy gives a good insight about what a passion of living and doing what one loves the most can make one do. One fails to give up in such situations. In all, I would say that Yuvraj Singh will become a sibling to everyone whoever will read this book. He is the first in the contemporary Indian team to write a book himself. But I would still say that Lance Armstrong's book and Brett Lee's autobiography was more liked by me than this. But as such books should not be judged, I am not rating this one. I would just ask all to read it as it surely gives energy and makes us emotional for numerous times. :-) And Yuvraj, Kudos and Respect!!!
 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

To Be Continued... by Moeedul Hussain!!!


       
 
          I am done reading this very short book of 180 pages- "To Be Continued..." by Moeedul Hussain. Moeedul Hussain, son of a well known teacher of Assamese Literature from Dhubri, Assam. Though not so favourite amongst his teachers, yet the students of S.P. English Medium High School knew him as a popular host to almost every cultural program at school. He joined the Electronics and Communication Branch at the 'The Oxford College of Engineering' in Bangalore after school. It was in his third year of Engineering when his interest toward reading and writing flared up becoming so intense that it resulted in 'To Be Continued…'; he came up with his first novel by the end of final year. After this book, he is all set to enter into the world of Engineers; but his love and passion for writing continues with his second book currently work-in-progress.

Synopsis: 
On the night of Valentine's Day, a call from Jess informs Reehan about Anita's attempted suicide. Reehan rushes to the hospital where circumstances forces and fate favours him to spend a lonely night. A journey down the memory lane begins when Reehan introspect the reasons behind his transformation from a shy-guy to a ruthless co-conspirator.

As a teen his life had all colours of love and friendship. His biggest weakness was his emotions. His heart drove his life and was never in control. With failed relations his broken heart took a wrong turn and headed towards a disaster called Anita. 

Find out, what went wrong? Was Reehan actually to be blamed for Anita? Will he make the correct choice for his wandering heart and set it towards the right course?

It's about games that boys play for love and lust. With many losses, yearnings, delusions and journeys the chapters unfolds a story of love, friendship, family, deception, breakups, patch-ups, conspiracy and struggle. Will Reehan's love, life and inner commotion reach to a conclusion?

What will eventually remain… to be continued…!

         
    Coming to the author, I would say that Moeedul does have a good quality of English unlike other young authors where you find high amount of grammatical errors and inclusion of simple words. He has crafted each sentence beautifully which keeps the pace alive. Even when the story is a college love story, you won't find it much creepy as these days because of lots of such stories in market, we prefer ignoring the genre. It is also evident through the book that Moeedul wants to give a message through his story to all the youngsters and contemporary age group. But the biggest lack that I find in his writing skill is narration. It isn't as good as I was expecting. It is something that can bore you while reading the book. Else, Moeedul has a little space for improvement. If he does that, he can be one of the recommended authors. Currently, he should work little harder.

              Coming to the review, the good phase of the book starts once the half of the book is done. The second phase of the book stands out for me. Initially, the way a character is being shown in the hospital after attempting to suicide and the way protagonist enters the story, you get an urge to go into flashback and know the story and relation between both of them which led them to this scenario. Then as the flashback begins, the book turns little uninteresting. The concept of showing girlfriends-after-girlfriends has never excited me when I read a college campus love story. I always prefer some adventure, traveling part and some parts that can add to the twists and turns to the story. Here it wasn't anything of this kind. 

              But later in the second half, the way story flows with a speed is when you really start liking it. The scenario where the protagonist gets into the bad light in his college is the most exciting phase of the book. The changes his life underwent because of it and the reaction of his parents and family, all makes a delight read in the end. Even the climax is beautifully closed. In all, I would give the book 2.75/5. This book is favorable for all the people belonging in the age group 13-20. I would suggest people who are bored with Indian love stories not to buy this book as there's nothing new in it. It is the same stuff. 

 Thanks.

 ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cover Page of Ketan Bhagat's debut novel- Complete/Convenient!!!!

The cover page of Ketan Bhagat's debut novel- Complete/Convenient!!! Seems Intriguing!!!







Thanks.

ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Techie Ketan Bhagat is now a Debut Author!!!


This is an interview of Ketan Bhagat, Chetan Bhagat's younger brother who is going to release his first book this May. This is an interview published by techgoss.com here.



Meet Ketan Bhagat, debut author, and ex-anchor with Doordarshan. You might know his brother Chetan. Yes, Chetan Bhagat. Yet, this Mumbai Oracle techie’s novel on real NRI life, which he says is not at all like a Karan Johar film, was not published easily. The pedigree did nothing to help as one would assume. Ketan Bhagat pulls out all stops in this frank chitchat with Techgoss.


Techgoss (TG): How was your life before you became an author?
Ketan Bhagat (KB): Born and bought up in Delhi, I grew up amidst chola bhaturas, chaats, nirulas, movies at Chanakya and Priya theatre, loud flamboyant weddings, Mandal-commission type riots, flying kites at rooftops on 15th August and travelling on redline buses. There weren’t any McDonalds or metros at that time in Delhi.

Quiet unlike my brother, I was a carefree bindass person who barely managed to pass through exams and was almost always outdoors. I loved playing cricket, flying kites, bunking classes, watching movies in front row and talking to Chetan’s girlfriends on phone (we have similar voices and style of talking). Whenever my parents came to school to meet teachers, they used to have great time meeting Chetan’s teachers and a harrowing time meeting my teachers. Once they were especially summoned by my college director as I was caught helping someone cheat. Thanks to me, my mother was always in front of some astrologer or the other. But I wasn’t a bad person. I did not smoke, drink or get into fights. I was just carefree and casual about life.

During college days I accidentally became an anchor for Doordarshan. That became quite popular and it helped me get and afford some attention from girls. Then during MBA days I became a script writer for Music Asia channel (part of Zee group). But all that went away when I joined Satyam Computer Services Ltd in Chennai. After 1.5 years of trying to learn Tamil, haggle with autorickshaws and getting used to Sun TV, Satyam took mercy on me and sent me overseas. I lived for few years in Malaysia, New Zealand and Sydney. Post Satyam I worked briefly for CSC in Sydney and then about 2.5 years ago I joined Oracle India in Mumbai. Currently, I am part of Telco team of Oracle’s Technology line of business. I manage relationships with few strategic customer organizations.

Though I started my IT career as a software developer in Chennai, after 3 years I moved to a sales role and have been continuing in that ever since. In Australia, I used to handle Satyam’s relationship with financial organizations like Westpac, Macquarie and J P Morgan.  My wife is a yoga teacher and we used to run a yoga studio in Milsons Point (Sydney). So in the four years that I spent in Sydney, I have been an employee and an entrepreneur. Currently too, besides working for Oracle and authoring a book, I am helping my wife run yoga classes in Mumbai.

Three things have always mattered to me - Being a good human being, having fun and creating memories. Rest all, earlier by innocence and later by choice, have never really mattered.


TG:  What techie profile did you have at Australia? Do give us some details of with whom and what, and the languages you handled etc, anything that a fellow techie might like to know
KB: The first three years of my IT career were as a developer. I was part of Satyam’s Microsoft group and have done some programming C#,VB.NET, ASP, ASPX, VB and MS SQL. I remember we all jumped in delight the day we were told that .NET lets you program without having knowledge of POINTERS, a difficult concept to grasp and implement in C++.

In Australia, I had helped Satyam get into Westpac’s Data Warehouse space. We had a strong Teradata practice and Westpac needed help in that space. In Macquarie, I sold projects and consultants around Java technologies. In J P Morgan, it was Microsoft technologies.

As a programmer, we always envied the sales people. We used to wreck our brains in front of a dead, boring machine while they zipped around in flights, five stars with customers. Big mistake! Today I would give my right arm to become a techie. It’s much easier to handle a machine that only understands logic, won’t answer back and call you at weird times to ask for weird things (read customers and bosses)


TG: So how did the book happen? 
KB: I had never thought of becoming a writer. I am hardly able to write emails properly. However, I am blessed with a sense of humour which brings me popularity. In Satyam, I would be pulled on stage to make the audience laugh and entertain. At the same time, Chetan was scaling newer heights everyday as a writer. Yet, the idea of becoming a writer never occurred to me. I was too busy having fun to bother about sitting alone and typing. 

But 2010, the year I relocated to India, was a transformational year for me. Our yoga studio was gaining popularity, my new job wasn’t turning out to be fun, we were expecting our first baby and I hadn’t been to India for more than 1.5 years.  Terribly busy and seriously India-sick, I was surprised at the wave of emotions that started enveloping me.

As the next generation started showing signs of its arrival and the previous generation was nowhere to be seen, my perspective on life began to change. I started questioning life and the choices I have made. I also became sensitive to the emotions of all my friends in India and Australia. This transformational experience had so many facets – novelty, intensity, pain, decisiveness, introspective, etc – that it gave birth to a writer in me. I felt compelled to pen down this life-changing experience. 


TG: How do you see your book as different from the ones that are being published today?
KB: Following are some reasons why this is a different kind of book:

1.  While this is fiction, it is based on real life characters and incidents. I am sure every reader will relate to the book.
2.  I can’t think of any recent fiction book written by an Indian on Australia life.
3.  I can’t think of any recent fiction book that captures the life of a software professional. Even though Indian IT companies like Wipro, Satyam, Infosys, TCS etc are established names, I haven’t seen any book that entertainingly captures how these companies work. Especially how these companies sell, their internal office politics, etc.
4.  This topic of this book is relevant in today’s times as I am yet to meet any Indian who doesn’t compare life in India vis-à-vis life outside India. Residents often think of moving overseas while NRIs keep contemplating moving back

Most importantly this is a story that captures the entire spectrum of emotions that men go through. Not pranks, peer, hormonal or parental pressure which most of the stories capture and exaggerate about. But, as a man myself, I can tell you that there is a lot more to a man than friendship, romance and pranks. We too go through tumultuous times that make us cry, cringe, doubt, regret, bend, feel helpless, feel lonely and most importantly TRANSFORM. ‘Complete/Convenient’ is a journey of a man.


TG: How did the publishing happen? Was it a tough odyssey?
KB: Oh, it was a very tough journey. Neither had I written before nor was I a reader of books. The only stint with writing was few television scripts I had written during college days. If this isn’t enough, I am the brother of India’s number one writer. I was also short of time as we had a baby soon after I started writing this book. So no experience, no time and a tough benchmark to match.

Finding a publisher was a tough journey as well. Chetan’s publisher refused (after a painfully long wait) and I didn’t know anyone else. There were times I thought I would have to probably have to self-publish it.

But somehow everything fell into place and now the book will be released in the market in May. Personally to me, this feels surreal.


TG: How did your elder brother's author persona influence your writing a book?
KB: I would never have thought of writing if Chetan Bhagat wouldn’t have been my brother. The salesman in me appreciates Chetan’s success, brand name and legendary achievements.

That said, Chetan wasn’t directly involved in writing of this book. Partly because this is a story based on real experiences and incidents, so there wasn’t much scope to make changes and partly because I wanted to cater to a different genre.

While I always enjoy reading Chetan’s books, I do not always relate to the story. Issues like pre-marital sex, career choice, persuading parents to let you marry the girl of your choice and college friendships are entertaining (like most Bollywood movies are) but are not necessary what people are going through once they are married and working. I wanted to write something that I have gone through and seen other go through in real life. 


TG: How was growing up with a brother who has gone on to become an icon like?
KB: Supreme fun. He was a genius from the moment he was born. His creative brain innovated many pranks and stories. Like once for his birthday, he cut a large watermelon instead of a cake. He used to make tea in a spoon on a candle. He would stick posters on girls’ backs that said ‘hand off! I belong to Chetan’. He would dress up as a ghost and scare small school going children in hot, deserted Delhi afternoons. He would convince me that I was an orphan picked from the dustbin. The list of his pranks can be a book in itself. Yet, he always excelled in academics and stood out for his creativity. I remember during the Mandal protest days, we had a peaceful candlelight march in our colony. Chetan’s candle stood out in thousands as he had innovatively layered it with electric lights.

Later on in life, it was fantastic to see him getting surrounded in streets and getting mobbed for pictures and autographs. But the best is when girls go all gooey over him.


TG: I went through your website ketanbhagat.com, and found it to be a very interesting one, quite different from the hey-come-and-buy type that newbie authors usually put up. It looks like quite a lot of effort went into this, could you tell us more?
KB: I am glad you liked the website. This is a heartfelt story and its beauty lies in its simplicity and sensitivity. Yes, it is different from the usual. Following are the reasons:

1.  This story came to me rather than I thought of it for sake of writing. It made me a writer rather than me making up a story. This atypical genesis of both the story and writer comes across in the way we approach our audience and promotional activities.
2.  Years of selling has taught me one simple thing that in the end, a good product always sells and a bad product always disappoints. I have worked extremely hard on the writing part. In the process, I also got about 100 people to review the book and only after their approval, I started approaching publishers. Even now, I am spending more time in editing the book than in marketing the book. For my biggest worry isn’t how many people would buy the book but how many people would be disappointed with the book.
3.  I think there are too many salesmen selling books anyways. No matter how much I shout from the  rooftops, I genuinely feel I would only be adding to the noise. Nobody would be hearing me in reality. 


TG: When is your book due? And how does it feel to be published at last?
KB: The book will be released in May. Everything from editing to cover design is in final stages. It’s a hectic time. At the same time an incredibly satisfying feeling. In between, on its own, media has started showing interest and the stupendous response from people has been overwhelming. I am getting hundreds of calls, mails, Facebook likes and hits of my website. In this world of commercialism, branding,.

The feeling is so good that I am almost numbed. Not so long ago I was in the pits. Was planning to either dump the project or just distribute this to my friends for free. And now, almost miraculously, everything is falling into place. I just pray to god that everything goes on smoothly and people like the book.


TG: How did you choose the title and how do you think its relevant to the theme?
KB: The title is a question I had asked myself when I relocated back to India and still ask whenever I get an offer to move overseas. It’s a question I have seen every Indian asking himself or herself sometime in life.

Life in India is an assortment of situations – traffic jams, maids, festivals, marriages, parents, corruption, chaos, friends, dirt, poverty, constraints, harassment, inflation, competition, busyness etc – but overall is COMPLETE. Life outside India offers a variety of comforts – dish washer, travel, friends, dollars, cleanliness, process, glamour, freedom, luxury, peace, quietness, solitude, space, choice, work-life balance, etc –very CONVENIENT. Both lives have their shares of pros and cons and appeal to different groups of people. Today, given the choices that Indians have in the world, every Indian has a choice to either live a Complete life or a convenient life. Hence, this story. 

The story of ‘COMPLETE/CONVENIENT’ is around a young couple who excitedly move to Australia for a better life. They do get their share of freedom, comforts and dollars but they also realize that NRI life comes with its own share of struggle and sacrifice. The novel neither glamorizes NRIs (like some BOLLYWOOD movies do) nor shows them as victims. It just presents different situations that most NRIs go through.


TG: What are the reactions at home? Your wife? Your parents?
KB: Surprisingly everyone is very positive. My wife is the most excited. In our 9 years of marriage, this is probably the only thing in which she has given me her unflinching unanimous support. She willingly let me eat away weekends and weeknights for completing my manuscript. Even now she is involved in every part of the novel.

My mother is also very happy and supportive. Luckily, both my wife and mother have loved the novel.


TG: What next?
KB: Writing is such a lonely, painful and rigorous process that may times in the past 2.5 years I had sworn that I would never write a novel again. But can you believe it, I have already started making notes around my next novel. Again, it’s a story refusing to leave me. It has been haunting me for more than 6 months now. 


TG: Anything else you would like to say here?
KB: Please read COMPLETE/CONVENIENT. It is definitely worth a read


Interview: Ketan Bhagat Speaks about his Debut Novel!!!


This is an interview of Ketan Bhagat, Chetan Bhagat's younger brother who is going to release his first book this May. This is an interview published by udaipurtimes.com here.


If delectable stories steal your curiosity then meet the new entrant in the field of writing, Ketan Bhagat.

The name rings a bell, doesn’t it? Yes, you guessed it right. Ketan is the younger brother of one of the most celebrated authors in India, Chetan Bhagat. Ketan is all prepared to debut with his book, ‘Complete/Convenient’, which is about to be released anytime in May.

Ketan, introduces himself as a typical 35 year old middle class common man living in Mumbai. His professional career took him to Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia and finally he moved back to India.

Inspired with his experiences as an NRI and many other real life incidents, he finally sat down to author a fiction, ‘Complete/Convenient’.

What his first book would turn out will be decided by the readers, but before they give their own verdicts, we got a chance to interview Ketan to know about his book, his life and impact of his celebrity brother.

Ketan gave us only first few chapters of the book to understand the storyline and characters. The interview was conducted through emails and Ketan candidly replied to all our questions.

Here are the excerpts from the interview with Ketan Bhagat.
………..

The book is about the story of a NRI Kabir and seems to be loaded with your personal experiences. What does the title ‘Complete/ Convenient’ signifies? Is it Complete in India, Convenient outside India?
Yes, the title signifies that life in India is COMPLETE while life outside India is usually CONVENIENT. However, neither the story nor I as an author are judgmental in terms of which is better or worse, right or wrong or any such thing.
The book is based on my personal experiences. For example, Kabir, my main protagonist, is a Punjabi born & bought up in Delhi. His in-laws stay in Pitampura. This is my background too. Kabir’s account in Sydney is Westpac Bank. I used to sell to Westpac Bank when I was in Sydney.
………..
Would this book be presenting a grim picture of life of NRI’s? In other words, would it, in anyway, present India in a good light?
This book neither glamorizes nor victimizes resident Indians or NRIs. Also, it won’t present India like they showcased in Slumdog Millionaire and Australia won’t be the showcased the way it did movies like Salaam Namaste and Bachna Ae Haseeno.
It is a realistic portrayal of life, emotions and situations that NRIs and their families go through. It is a very sensitive and emotional story that should help people empathize with the sacrifices and turmoil one has to go through when one leaves his / her country.
………..
What is your message to young people who long for moving out of India?
I was one of them and was eager to swap the chaos, corruption, crowds, constraints and competition of my Indian life with the clean, simple, free and luxurious life outside. By the grace of God, I got the opportunity and juiced it fully.
For many years, I lived my dreams – drove expensive cars, did sports like skiing, bungee jumping, skydiving and scuba diving, partied all night and then drove to faraway beaches to watch the sunrise, earned in dollars, watched Sachin score centuries in Sydney Cricket ground, Roger Federer win Australian open and Michael Schumacher win F1… I can never thank God enough for those experiences.
But about 2.5 years ago, I willingly left everything and came back to India. Even now, every month I get at least one offer to move out India and I politely decline. I am loving my COMPLETE Indian life.
Yet, I have plenty of friends and relatives who are still living the same life. They do not get stuck in traffic jams, do not face beggars on streets, get most of their works done online and their salaries are in dollars. They are loving their CONVENIENT life.
My message to young people is that no choice – to remain in India or to move out of India – is right or wrong. Each life, yes even the one outside, comes with its share of struggles and sacrifices. It is upto the person to decide which life he/she prefers. So please read Complete/Convenient and decide for yourself.
………..
Who should read this book? Who are your target readers?
While anyone who loves reading sensitive emotional stories should like my book, particularly the ones who fall in either of the following categories would relate to the story:
NRIs and their loved ones back home, People aspiring to be NRIs, Software professionals working in Indian IT companies, Sales people especially those belonging to IT field, Newly married couples, Men whose wives and mother’s do not get along, Men who are victims of office politics, Women who would like to understand men more and Aspiring writers – I am one of you. Please encourage me.
………..
Do you wish to share any short incident from your life which is there in the book?
There are numerous as the whole story and its characters are based on real life incidents. For example, there is a Diwali chapter in which Kabir walks into an expensive store with Myra and ends up embarrassing himself. This is straight out of an actual incident that happened with me. Then there is an incident of relatives blurting out ridiculous comments during a Punjabi marriage. That too has been picked from a real life episode. Ditto for the opportunistic, greedy Nadia who is Kabir’s customer.
………..
Tell us something about your experience of writing this book?
I had never planned to become a writer and sort of became one because this story kept haunting me.
The transformational experience that Kabir goes through in the story is something I personally went through and have seen many of my friends experiencing.
So the story came in easily. That said, I had never written even a proper email in my life. Hence, I spent 2 years in writing this book.
The process involved rewriting chapters, getting them reviewed by various people (including avid book readers, people proficient in English etc) and then rewriting again. It is painful and time consuming. A full time regular job and a newly born at home made the task even more challenging.
But the end result has made the effort more than worthwhile. Today, even before the book has released, I have started getting compliments for the book. For example, Rahul Sharma – the famous Santoor Maestro – has said the following about Complete/Convenient:
“Like a beautiful piece of music… Entertaining, gripping yet soul stirring aftertaste”
………..

Recent trends suggest that simple language, great stories and thin books are more preferred by the youngsters. Can we expect the same from your book?
Yes, No and I hope so.
‘Yes’, because the language is simple. ‘No’, because the book is not thin. At approx. 115,000 words this is slightly thicker than the usual fiction books in the market and ‘I hope so’ for I truly hope people connect to the story and label it as a great one.
………..
Now that your book is about to be published, would you continue with your current profession as regional sales manager?
Yes, definitely. I am more sensitive than creative. Hence, I can only write about real life situations and what actually happens on ground. Hence, it is essential for me to continuously experience regular normal life to get ideas and events for my stories.
………..
Lots of new writers are coming up these days. How do you separate yourself from the others?
You ask about separating myself from others, I am advised that my biggest concern should be separating myself from my brother – Chetan Bhagat, India’s largest selling writer.
But such questions don’t bother me. Mainly for two reasons:
First, unlike a cricket team that has a limit of 11 or corporate world where only one person can be CEO, creative world has no limits. One reader can read multiple books. I myself read multiple authors. Rather the challenge is that a writer can’t write more than one book at a time.
………..
Second. I am not competitive when it comes to my writing. Like I said, I never planned to become a writer. A story haunted me and I have written it with utmost passion and sincerity.
………..
Do you have any message for young writers?
If someone like me can become a writer, anyone can become a writer. Imagine someone who is constantly reprimanded for writing erroneous emails and congratulated for being the brother of India’s largest selling writer.
Then being warned by almost everyone this is suicidal as I would be compared with Chetan’s best works. Then being rejected by publishers. And nowadays by some readers even before the book has been released. Despite all this, If I can do it. So can you.
Please read Complete/Convenient. We all need to encourage each other.

Are you prepared for the comparison with Chetan Bhagat?
Did you take any writing tips from your brother? Would he be helping you in promotion of your book?
I truly admire Chetan for his achievements. I have genuinely loved some of his works. However, our creative sensibilities are quite different. Furthermore, I knew that my first comparison would be with his work.
Hence, part by my own nature and part by purpose, I did not consult Chetan while writing this book. In fact, I even avoided reading Chetan’s novels and articles while writing my manuscript lest some influence comes in.
However, he was one of the first people to read the final manuscript.
………..
Do you feel that Indian education system and social mindset makes our students take the same old streams Engineer/CA/Doctor then MBA? And after a certain years, probably a boring managerial life makes them try their hand at writing? – In other words – what is your take on the fact that lots of MBA’s are now taking up writing as their profession?
I would not blame the Indian education system. Two reasons for that:
Even outside India, people have many facets to their lives. Not just related to a job or family. They haven’t been educated the Indian way.
The Indian education system never forced people to become MBAs/ Doctors/ Engineers etc. it was the poor economic situation of our country that forced parents to force such ‘stable & safe’ professions on them
I also feel that it is not boring to be an Engineer, CA, doctor or MBA. It is the routine that is boring. If, for example, someone just does writing day in and day out for years and years, I am sure he would also feel some monotony and boredom.
That said, the reason why you see many MBA’s or other professionals are taking up writing can be attributed to convergence of two reasons:
Today’s life is full of stress and materialism. Both of these lead to self introspection. I saw this happen to my brother and also to myself. By the time you are in your thirties, you are already done with buying houses, cars, foreign vacations and gadgets. Where do you get your next high from? Obviously not from the next iPhone or SUV; has to be from something within you.
India is the fastest growing market for English books. It’s already the largest after the US and UK. As India’s literacy rate improves (it rose from 52 per cent to 68 per cent between 1991 and 2008), publishers predict that India will become the world’s largest market for English books within the next 10 years. This booming market is the main reason why publishers are encouraging new authors.
This is a welcome trend. Just yesterday I was with a senior executive of Crosswords. He said that about 5 – 8 years ago the top 10 best sellers list was dominated by foreign writers. Nowadays, majority in best seller list are Indian. Truly, the time for Indian writers has arrived.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi!!!



         
   This post will always remind me of my bad times. On the day of Mahashivratri, I picked up the first book of Shiva Trilogy- The Immortals of Meluha and completed it in two days. Then I picked up the second one- The Secret of the Nagas and completed it yet in another two days. Finally, I picked up the recently released on 28th February, the third and the last book of the trilogy- The Oath Of The Vayuputras and got stuck with it. Many things that should not have happened, happened with my life and mood. I picked it up on 19th March and completed it today on 11th April. I have never taken such a long period to read any book. And by experiencing this slow reading, I have decided that let any bad time come in my life, I will always read books with the same enthusiasm. :-) Let's come back on the book. Amish Tripathi has given his 100% to the last part of the trilogy and thus the book ended up in being the thickest of all the three books. :-) But he has given the perfect ending to the trilogy. He has not disappointed me. Though the The Immortals of Meluha still stays to be my favorite of all the three because it also had humor in it but still the whole trilogy is the best cake that you can ever experience in your town. I can easily claim that the name of the author and book are not over-hyped. It is getting what it deserves.

  SYNOPSIS:

The Oath of the Vayuputras is the final book of the Shiva Trilogy. In the earlier books of the trilogy, Shiva finds out that the Nagas are not his enemies and joins hands with them to reach the root of all evil. This book will have answers to ‘the Neelkanth’s’ questions about his fate, the choices he made previously and karma.

Further, in the concluding book of the trilogy, Shiva reaches Panchavati, the capital of Naga where he will come face to face with his greatest enemy. Will he win the battle over his wicked enemies, who are out to destroy him and his legacy?

The Oath of the Vayuputras will also reveal the reason of Shiva’s close friend Brahaspati’s disappearance and reappearance at the end of the second book, The Secret of the Nagas. Further the relationship between Daksha, the king of Meluha and the mysterious temple priests will also be exposed in this last part of the trilogy. Shiva seeks helps from the Vayuputras in the quest to conquer all evil.

The great warrior will encounter the real intentions of some characters he deemed to be close to him. Some new characters will add that extra vitality to the entire plot, especially Shiva’s greatest enemy whose name sends shivers down the spines of many great warriors.

An interesting journey of a warrior who is turned into a God by his followers because of his deeds and war against the evil, this book is sure to have its readers’ full attention. A good read which will make one reflect on their actions, this book like the two earlier books of the trilogy focuses on philosophy, religion and the never ending battle between the good and the evil.

     
       Coming to the author, Amish Tripathi has one good thing- he is clear with what he wants to convey. He is assured about his ideologies. He is crystal clear with each sentence that he writes. With all the three books, he has maintained a monotonous quality and that is the devotion towards the protagonist of the book- Lord Shiva. No doubt why this publisher- Westland has paid him an advance of 5 crore rupees for the next trilogy that he would be writing. The only complain that I have with him is the increasing cost of his books with each release. We know that as demand increases, the rate of the product also increases in direct proportion to it. But as youth should be the core target audience as they need to know about religion, myth, philosophy more than anyone else, the price of the book should be affordable to them. Amish Tripathi has earned 22 crore+ as an author. It would have sounded cool even if it would have been 10 crore +. Hence, my dear favorite author, please cut the cost of your book and keep it at the cost at which Meluha was when it released for the first time. 

              Coming to the review, the book starts with Shiva being informed about how Somras which everyone considers as the liquid of God is evil and not appropriate for consumption. Shiva then reacts to it and asks everyone to stop the usage. From here the story of this book begins. There are his own people who wants to use Somras and promote it even when they know that Shiva can destroy them. And as it's evident, the battle between Good and the Evil starts. The way Shiva turns against his own Meluha is shocking. Parvateshwar's execution's sentence scene is an emotional moment. Tara's whole scenario is also interesting. The way Daksha and his companions plan against Shiva are some furious moments for the readers in the book. :-) The involvement of Ganesh and Kartik in the story is as if two mini-Shiva are also added and hence it turns more charming. Later on, THE FINAL CALL chapter made me weep like hell. The chapters post-THE FINAL CALL are the USP of this book for me. The conclusion to the trilogy is made too appropriately to even describe it in words. How a human- Shiva turned into GOD is so perfectly narrated that I want to fall into the tale once again. 

             The only drawback that I would say is the slow progress of the book in the middle. Amish Tripathi has added many unwanted scenes and plots in the book. I felt many inclusions out of proportions. They could have been expelled. Another doubting element for me is the title of the book. Why the name- THE OATH OF THE VAYUPUTRAS? It wasn't the basic plot. Instead, THE EVIL OF THE SOMRAS would have worked better. Else, I don't think that there's anything which I would like to pinpoint. I give it 4/5 stars. And I recommend all of you to read all the three parts in one go when you get vacation or something. Reading this trilogy in breaks can confuse you. So please, whenever you read, be ready to get lost in this world that resides in our very own India, some 4000 years ago. :-) 
 Thanks.

  ABHILASH RUHELA - VEERU!!! 

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