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By Jun 21, 2011 • Ripped ApartThe Back Page

There is something about equilibrium that the universe tends to be quite carnal about. It is reflective in every facet of creation itself, with an intimate entanglement of opposites. So, to make up for the classy hardback editions of coffee table books, are Chetan Bhagat’s paperback atrocities.

Being, for a while, an honest critic—the most disliked of all of creation itself—I shall point out some subtle hints given off by CB to warn us of the swirling vortex of insignificance in his pages…

Like 5 years back, I bought this book called Five Point Someone (FPS, for brevity and the horror the full name still instills). It would be interesting to find out “what not to do at IIT”, considering it’s unlikely for me to find out what “to do”—disregarding any hints given off by a tasteless book cover and font (size, typeface and colour, in their triadic disharmony), inside and outside. That is not to say that I did not give the book a chance to change the impression it made initially.

For him to be your favourite, he also has to be your only.

This is only an introspective account of my regret at having crossed paths with FPS. Why does it bother me? Because reading a bad book is something you can never undo. It takes a part of you away, not to mention a handsome amount of time spent reading it (which, thanks to Bhagat’s impeccable grammar, redundant sentence formation, recurring thoughts and artless language, was not that significant a factor here). That is not to mention how sadistic I am. And if I could spare myself the leisure of quoting from real literature, “I’m here to bury Chetan, not to praise him.”

It definitely was, and is, and judging by his choice of themes to depict, and complexity of thoughts (rather, the lack of it), all his future works too will be, printed business models, incontestably mercenary. And that always comes at the cost of quality. The one and only good facet to it is that it makes those people take up books who would never have, otherwise. It’s disheartening though, that most of them don’t go beyond the horizons of Bhagatitude. And it becomes the cul-de-sac of their reading experience.

I started off with the book, without any hopes, and mindsets, for it was almost just out at that time without a lot of reviews. For which I am glad, else hope would have done this really terrible thing it does—lead me to a greater disappointment, which would go on to do its own little terrible thing—leading to a more acrid response on my side.

I did not finish reading the book. Nor did I read anything else by him. I could not convince myself to. Predictability is flirtatious, but my encounters with books had armed me to extrapolate the storyline of the only disappointment I happened to lay my hands on. The language and style(?) of writing made sure I contented myself with the calculated guesses. Eighty odd pages into it, I took the nearest exit, silencing the impressive narration of a teenager beginning to pen his inner voice, often running out of ink, and upon finding it, often running out of thoughts.

Some things worthy of noting down, albeit mentally, about CB-books are:

His books are not works of literature by any means. Period. Don’t call it that. (I say that because I have heard people say that as if they don’t realise what they are getting at.)

They are not novels either, by any norms of novel-writing. (It’s the same trick we use in college assignments. Increase the font size and gap between lines. Voila, 20 pages!)

His works are close to comic books, just short of that, due to a visible lack of speech bubbles, also devoid of any form of imagery (which comic books are best known for, quite literally so), also the most basic virtue of a novel. Not to mention the meek namesake of a storyline.

4 books down, the quality of work is still the same, which in his case, is not something one should pride in. (Read: Consistently moronic.)

The character names do not go beyond the most unimaginative, common Indian names. (And there are pretty flashy Indian names too, with a lot of consonants tossed in.)

The humour is not even borderline seasoned, or remotely satiric. It is at its best, anecdotal. (And of course, the best of it comes only once or if you lower your standards, twice.)

I personally did not want to be any character from his book (which again is the least an author’s imagination should incite), and I don’t really think anyone would. (This although disregards those hinting Bipolar tendancies.)

The sneak peek to the story behind the book is a peep show I would choose to avoid. It shows the wrong kind of flesh to my liking. (And that being “paid”?)

The detailing is pretty much anti-LOTR, and the scenes bask in a negative space of non-existence. Dialogues smeared across a desserted play, is pretty much it.

I don’t fully gather to what effect do people associate his name to their experience in reading. “I love to read” they tend to touch up with “my favourite author is CB”. It leads me to think what class of “Moron” they are carved out of. And that takes away any regard I might have had. Because for him to be your favourite, he also has to be your only. Along with him now come a myriad of other authors shelved under “Indian writing” (which I feel should be replaced by “Indian writing crap”), producing story books that flood the now-unfriended neighbourhood bookstores, and bring down a handsome number of trees, which would do mankind some good were they still upright. Some of them might be better than the others, no denying that (not the trees, I mean). But when I enter the store with my wish list in mind, and hopes mounting like the notes in a mental whistle, and have to realise that CB is the “in thing”, ergo they did not risk/bother getting copies of the well-writ brethren of books, should vengeance still not be served cold?

Ranting apart, few things CB is quite capable of, which we shall now applaud to.

He can consistently write orthogonal to humour, language, imagination and love simultaneously.

He can make your coffee taste bad if you read it with your drink.

You can never steal his masterpiece creation of rambling crap, because it is ALWAYS at the safest place. The future.

He wields the most potent weapon to take care of his sales. The law of large numbers, with India taking the “large” part of it through new horizons.

He is now called the “Underage (as if the moustache, receding hairline and veteran level lack of taste weren’t subtle enough clues) Optimist (oh come on!)”

It instills, like I mentioned in the beginning, horror at the realisation that the youth is holding CB as their standard for reading. Being generous, I would not deny it as maybe an occasional accompaniment to an otherwise thorough and tasteful bookshelf, but it cannot be the definitive identity of anyone’s reading habit. One man’s riches should not come at the cost of a million people’s acceptance of mediocrity. To the extent that New York Times called him “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history”. Kudos. So ‘A Suitable Boy’ and ‘The Great Indian novel’ist can go take a plunge in a ‘Sea of Poppies’ as the ‘God of Small Things’ heaves ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ on His ‘Train to Pakistan’.

I’m sure although that the next trip anywhere, will have yet another traveller looking intently into a CB book. For his benefit, I hope he moves on. And so does everyone else with anything CB.

Because CB here does not quite translate to C’est bien.

And life is too short for a bad coffee and worse books.

This is a slightly rewritten version of what the author first posted on his blog.

80 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Angel June 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Quite frankly,I enjoy reading CB books.. Agree they are not anything close to a literary classic but it gives me a good laugh. It is a read nly once book.

    • Siddhartha June 22, 2011 at 8:45 am - Reply

      I am sure they are. Just that some people consider them the epitome. Which I find ironic.

    • sinthanai saaral - drizzling thoughts July 17, 2011 at 7:45 am - Reply

      i feel the exact same way

    • Alex August 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

      I quite like CB’s soft porn sections of his books. He would do well if he ghost wrote Mills and boon or hang on….mast ram novels.

  2. Savio June 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Finally someone giving voice to my thoughts! Thank you so much! Very well put :)

  3. anurag June 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    CB’s books show the stark reality sans any flowery words and old colloquial styles which you refer to as literature.Its important to understand that such books are not popular with the youth anymore….and you have got to give credit to CB for bringing up some smiles and managing to do that without writing complicated English.I am not against your viewpoint but the pure hatred and spite you have spewed in this article is not good as he depicts what really happens and reality is always bitter….so therefore his books are also somewhat bitter.

    • Siddhartha June 22, 2011 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Anurag, it is indeed great to know that his books have made a LOT of people smile.

      As for better writ books, they ARE famous among the youth. Only not that large in number. And were the youth to develop together as a whole, on an intellectual level, they must read better. There IS no better teacher than reading and life, afterall.

      And as far as reality is concerned, he explores a VERY incarcerated reality. You will see how different, adversely so, reality is as you pick up some good non fiction by Indian authors too. Bhagat’s is but a diminishing circle on a galactic Venn Diagram.

      • anurag June 22, 2011 at 11:13 pm - Reply

        Well…point taken….but still it IS wrong to write so furiously about an author without caring that someone is also a fan….anyway even I believe that books are a great source of learning and would really appreciate if you could suggest me some books of which you talk about.

        • jj July 17, 2011 at 7:49 am - Reply

          i agree with anurag…

          I dont buy this literature argument….

          A book is not to educate.. its to entertain..

          and cb books does it.. even though its full of masala.. who cares.. wont u go and watch a masala movie once in a while

          • Siddhartha July 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm -

            JJ, I shall pass, no. :)

            Be tasteful in life buddy, not wasteful. But then thats just me, maybe.

          • jj July 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm -

            lol.. so whoever who reads cb books are wasteful.. nice input.. :) thanks

          • Siddhartha July 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm -

            I shall give you a heads up everytime I am alluding to something next time. Subtlety is surely not your cup of tea. Apologies. And if you keep reading CB, it never will.

            I personally am amused. HIGHLY so, as how people tend to base their arguments around a partial facet to a remark, hence actually not giving it any weight of any sort. :)

            Whoever reads CB is wasteful. THAT is what you infer? I couldn’t get my thought through to you then. :)

          • jj July 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm -

            haha.. no yaar. i was just joking..

          • Rishi Ayyer August 28, 2011 at 2:07 am -

            A book is not to educate, it is to entertain? I demand an explanation! That is, so wrong! Blasphemous, almost! A book, is to educate, to cultivvate, to help grow minds. You want masala entertainment, watch saas-bahu soaps and get a life.

  4. Varun June 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Dislike!
    I read it somewhere,’critics are failed writers’
    Do I need to say anything more?

    • Siddhartha June 22, 2011 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Varun, what you read has a metallic ring to it quite distinct of a failed writer. Critics evaluate writing beyond what is visible at a first glance.

      And like I mentioned, they are the most hated of all of creation. Opining comes at that cost.

      Ofcourse, there is a class of pseudo-critics who call every book a “Tour-de-force”. I am sorry but I cannot call his books that.

      • Varun June 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm - Reply

        Sorry mate !

        Maybe you could have criticized him in a much better way :P By venting out anger or personal grudge you can’t enlighten people with your writing.On a personal note I felt your approach was wrong.You could have toned down a bit.

        :)

        • anurag June 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm - Reply

          Yes…..that is precisely my point.By reading this article i feel that you have a some sort of a personal vendetta against Bhagat….what you have wrtten is much much harsher than criticism.

          • jj July 17, 2011 at 7:52 am -

            agree.. it was not like a critic review. it was like venting the hatred.. honestly if i have to say it was pure jealousy.. sorry to say buddy

          • Siddhartha July 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm -

            JJ, dude(?), being jealous of CB? LOL!

            No offense, but don’t flatter yourself or him to THAT extent. Not just yet, and not anytime soon. Sounds Just Juvenile. ;)

          • jj July 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm -

            i am not his die hard fan. I can point out flaws in him like how u and me have flaws too.. but the point that you are writing a article on him shows you are not able to ignore him.. he is time 100 most influential person.. can you show me one writer in recent times who has attained so much success… are all those people who made his books success are people with no brains? i get your point that books shouldnt be so amateur but people taste differ right. thats my point buddy and yeah its dude :)

          • Siddhartha July 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm -

            You cannot ignore a headache. Doesn’t work. Not comparing him to one, just giving you a general idea.

            Success is not a measure of one’s abilities always. You should know that, being as logical you are trying to come off as. :)

            And were you to understand what I wrote, even a niche, I never said who read his books are retards. I explained explicitly what my distaste and horror lies in. But that seemed to have circumvented your perception. Another time, perhaps.

            And dude, really, isn’t this taking the issue through newer horizons of non-necessitation? I write a satire article, you disagree, we’re good. Let’s call it a day.

            Enjoy his next book when its out. Let us know how much better he got, if at all.

          • jj July 20, 2011 at 12:16 am -

            Lol.. I am not trying to come off as logical. I just said what i felt.I really enjoyed reading five point someone. If that means I have bad taste then I dunno what to say. May be you could suggest me some much more tasteful books so I can read them too . But I don’t regret reading his book. And I am very impressed with your choice of words. I had to use dictionary to find meaning ..

            Also I agree success is not the measurement to gauge talent. but I would really like to know though what makes him so successful.,

          • Siddhartha July 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm -

            You liked his book is pretty good. A lot of people do. My article was not really aimed at the fact that people do. If you noticed. Seems unlikely to me though. It was at how people epitomise him. That’s all man.

            I regret reading his book, whatever bit I did, you dont, thats difference in perception. Rather, reception.

            What makes him successful? The fact that he banks upon dreams of millions, also at times they internally contemplate, making them subjects of his books. IITs, IIMs, Sex and love marriage. Related stuff. His books are not thought oriented, or rich in imagination. Highly commercial. Hence he sells.

          • jj July 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm -

            point taken :) .. any recommendations on books u loved

          • Siddhartha July 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm -

            JJ, dude(?), being jealous of CB? LOL!

            No offense, but don’t flatter yourself or him to THAT extent. Not just yet, and not anytime soon. Sounds Just Juvenile. ;)

  5. Utkarsh June 22, 2011 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Well Siddhartha, I second you with this article but not completely. No doubt Chetan Bhagat’s stories are worthless crap. His books neither have a head nor a base. But you should not criticise someone to this extent and seriously speaking not about his writing style. I agree his books are crap but I can read his small articles in Times of India. I like your writing even though it seems rude and offensive at some parts of this article.

    • Siddhartha June 22, 2011 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Utkarsh, it is really kind of you to like the writing, although you found it offensive at places. I apologize for that. I did not intend to be rude and tried to tone down the foray as much as I could. And that was really not the intent either.

      As for the TOI articles, I would have liked them, maybe, but he appeared at the column Shashi Tharoor used to write in, and that was not a welcome change. Still, articles I believe may be just fine.

      Not books. :)

      • Utkarsh June 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm - Reply

        I don’t agree at some places(seems I do have criticizing power) but you don’t have to apologise for that. And everyone misses Shashi Tharoor’s article, I guess. Well Siddharth, Critcs have to be rough and harsh at times but try to be far from offensive writing…As I told you, a tremendous job done…. arguably the best critical writing against Chetan Bhagat ever read by me(of-course).

        ;)

  6. Chintan shah June 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Absolutely true
    cant believe how pplread him….but ppl listen to Justin Bieber too…so i guess…

    • jj July 17, 2011 at 7:56 am - Reply

      i felt the same way till i read his book. did u try reading it

  7. Yogesh Mulay June 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Siddhartha,
    Well…I respect your opinions on CB’s writing. But cannot agree on the expression in the critic writing of yours. The review – quite biased and prejudiced – also lacks the examples/details and rotates around or rather pins only the author. The review should be readable,enriching,rational and pragmatic.
    It’s better if you try to showcase your literary skills in a better manner.
    In my opinion, writing and literature are of many kinds and shades. Why to be too conservative to fit them in predefined shelves ? There are writers in all languages who catch the pulse of the people ..People tend to follow them hugely. I think, Chetan Bhagat has written on catchy subject matters and has a writing style to attract young readers. There is always a risk of getting such writing style monotonous/repetitive. But he is just with few books,now.
    I liked 2 states in spite of the cliched subject matter.

    • Siddhartha Mukherjee June 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      This is not a book review. It is an Author review, hence revolves only around the author, per se.

      My distaste is aimed at the misinterpretation that is now rampant. It is perfectly logical and understandable to come off as a businessman than an author, what CB is doing. Its totally fine. But people are “considering” him as a definitive author, this is not fine. That’s what makes me take a sharp tone whilst writing this.

      Also, this section is all about satirizing the subject matters, as goes with all the articles. This one happens to be something a LOT of people relate to. Don’t take it to heart.

      Anyhow, to each his own.

      • rahul July 17, 2011 at 8:02 am - Reply

        buddy.. u should know u cant control what people think.. and shouldnt try to decide for others..

        • Siddhartha July 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm - Reply

          I totally agree with you Rahul. I don’t even want to control what people think. And deciding for others! The blasphemy!

          Can’t I although hope for a better future? Does that sound offensive too? O.o

          • rahul July 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm -

            no i fully endorse your point.. but we cant cringe about it people read his books now. period simple.. tomorrow people may get bored of his books.. wuality always prevails.. so dont worry dude chill

  8. Nick July 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    have you read the brilliant Op-eds by this guy? Besides the obviously banal rhetoric, the pieces themselves have many grammatical errors! Most importantly, most of TOI pieces have no capital I’s at all.
    And this guy is a prolific writer and even writes pieces in TOI on how to learn the English language? Is that what irony is?

    • Siddhartha July 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      Yes Nick that is indeed the personification of irony, among others more derogatory.

      The grammar is bad, for an IIM graduate, more so.

      As for the non-capitalized “i”s, even Shashi Tharoor used them, but his reason was artistic and logical. What CB is aiming at with that, I don’t know.

      • ntmn July 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm - Reply

        Oh actually you\’ll find that everywhere in TOI! And it\’s not a grammatical error, it\’s just a TOI policy it launched few years back, by which they want to use I in small case so as to remove the aura of \”ego\” in the speaker\’s attitude. So, it\’s the newspaper\’s mischief, not the author\’s.

  9. Satarupa Chakraborty July 14, 2011 at 12:27 am - Reply

    You know, I had to say this. Your piece is very well written and I share your distaste for Chetan Bhagat’s books.I enjoyed your jibes. This was a good read, a difficult read, but still a good read.
    Therefore, an opinion if you will : next time you post something on a public blog, perhaps you could use easier words? You could argue that I had no business reading things I couldn’t understand but since your piece was offered to the public for their perusal, it’s only good business to cater to and within the public’s taste and vocabulary. Not all of us are grammar mavens unfortunately.

    That apart, thanks for teaching me “extrapolate”.

    • Siddhartha July 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      Thank you Satarupa. It was not intended as a verbose writing, and is not either. I just wrote what came to mind. Will look into your opinion though.

      As for extrapolation, well, maths would have taught you that at some point in your life anyway. ;) I just did its bidding, then. :)

      • Satarupa Chakraborty July 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm - Reply

        Thanks for replying :P

        Well, verbose isn’t word I was going for. I guess what I wanted to say is , you should have used more layman’s terms and expressed your thoughts with simpler words.

        Like say for the word “extrapolate”, I know the math, but at that moment it did not hit me. Perhaps I am not good at math and I should have remembered all about graphs and the like. But you cannot take your target audience for granted like that. You can’t assume they know everything you do. That’s what I was trying to explain. Its similar to say, a biology student saying “I want to make you feel severely asphyxiated” while they could have just said ” I want to choke the life out of you.” We all studied these terms in high school I’m sure, but you shouldn’t need biology and maths to understand literature.

        While we are on the topic–> “There is something about equilibrium that the universe tends to be quite carnal about.”

        Well, I am sure the word ‘carnal’ blended with the idea in your head much more harmoniously than it did in mine. I can only assume you were trying to say that the universe is very passionate about equilibrium. But see what makes sense to you, might not be as sensible to the rest of us. So, perhaps you know, next time you start to write, you could keep that in mind. You have all the right ideas I am sure, but I thought your work needed to be more …accessible?

        Apologies for the lecture, but I saw on your page that you’re younger than me so you know, you could take this as a pointer.

        Anyway, I just realized my boss doesn’t give me enough work to do lol

        Have a good day :P

        • Siddhartha July 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm - Reply

          I totally feel you. Although I would say extrapolate and asphyxiate are words used by science taken from english. Its not the other way round. Anyhow, I get the point. :)

          As for saying the universe is carnal and not passionate, its all about the degree you try to convey. Ofcourse I can say the day is hot, scorching, smoldering or sizzling, implies the same general idea, but definitely not the degree. And writing is all about details, so I feel. And that itself is one of the major reasons I wrote this. Details lack in everything CB.

          And you seem to have a generous boss. Quite an asset.

          • Srikanth July 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm -

            @Siddhartha – First learn to write yourself. You can’t even differentiate between its and “it’s” and you consider yourself a grammar maven! Improve your writing standards before criticising, my friend!

          • Srikanth July 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm -

            Also, ofcourse is written as of course. You didn’t know it, of course! Get some grammar lessons from Bhagat. No matter how mediocre writer is he, he is good enough to get your grammar right.

          • Kumar Pratik July 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm -

            Mr. Srikanth, it should be – “No matter how mediocre a writer he is”.

            Before lecturing someone else, you should look into a mirror first.

          • Srikanth July 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm -

            Thanks. I looked into the mirror, I realized that I’m not at all as good-looking as you. You look good and your blog as well. How did I know that? By going through your blog’s tagline which contains the word ‘its’ instead of “it’s”. Awesome writers, NTMN has recruited!

            By the way ask your editors to stop claiming NTMN as the no. 2 news satire website of India. There are many newer and better ones out there. ~ compare on alexa to give you highlights.

          • Kumar Pratik July 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm -

            Hahaha, I appreciate your sarcasm about my looks! Also, thanks for pointing out the error. My blog isn’t all that well kept, you see. Not many readers implies not much not much initiative on my part.

            Awesome writers? Well, thank you so much. I didn’t think so, but if you say.

            Okay, I will ask them. Not that they will listen to me or anything.

            PS: Just relax man. Let’s not get into a war of words. There is enough hate in the world as it is. Take a chill pill.

          • ntmn July 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm -

            Dear Srikanth

            1. The comments made by Kumar Pratik and even the author are in no way official statements from the website, and are made in their personal capacity, as has been declared in our disclaimer.

            2. In response to “Awesome writers, NTMN has recruited”, I’d like to suggest (and seek your further opinion on) that a writer’s job is to express. The errors pointed out by you are usually sorted out by copy-editing processes, and don’t, in any manner, indicate the incompetence of a writer’s expressing abilities.

            3. We do not comment about other websites. But we will surely take your suggestion into consideration when Alexa traffic rankings take us to the third position or beyond, in our genre in India.

          • Siddhartha July 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm -

            Oh damn you apostrophe, for you give Bhagat an upper hand. :)

            So that’s it? If I learn to use the ‘ properly, I beat him, according to you? I will get some hardcore grammar schooling for JUST that. ^_^

            As for NTMN having recruited good writers, thanks a lot! They have off late recruited quite a seasoned pen, and more acrid readers to complement the same.

            PS : Srikanth, google typo. Try learning a few signs of that, while I work on the grammar. Parallel learning. Always a boon! :)

  10. Nanak Bhatia July 15, 2011 at 1:56 am - Reply

    you have not read his books ..oh sorry half a book-btw did u even do that or did the “tasteless book cover and font (size, typeface and colour, in their triadic disharmony)” not even allow you to do that?and u can decide to criticize his work through that ?write an entire disection of the guy without reading his work. wow thats some ground work you did. speaks laurels about you. Im no cb fanatic-enjoyed a book or two of his. just prefer things that make sense. this article does not.

    • Siddhartha July 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      You are at the wrong website mate. As for ground work, the phrase itself calls for the existence of a “ground”. Didn’t find any in the freefall of CB’s writing. DO shine some light on it if you did. :)

  11. holy middle finger July 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    well, i don’t like the guy at all, nor his writing. he tries to address some issues and some people like it. let them do that. some of us like more intellectual and engaging books not some phony mediocre book. so we will read better books.
    i believe he writes for people who don’t normally read and who would like to call themselves “avid readers”. if he is successful in brining their attention towards reading about some issues, i dont see any problem. as for me, i cant sit through more that few pages of his books, they are just dumb and not stimulating enough.
    frankly this article was not much of a “good criticism”. you should work on that.
    regards,
    seemyblog.

    • Siddhartha July 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Dear holymiddlefinger, though that sounds wrong, I have no option. This is not a “critique” as such. And is definitely not a good one at that.

      And no one can call themselves “avid readers” after reading CB’s books.

      And I will definitely try to work on being a better critic. Only when I am to write for a real news website, not one on satire.

  12. Srikanth July 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    I’m astonished to see that such a biased and hateful article made it up to NTMN. More so because the writer tells that he hasn’t read all the Bhagat’s books and he criticize the author ruthlessly.

    As far as I remember, NTMN’s editors have always been very controlled and impartial and it was unwise on their part for publishing this highly whimsical and opinionated article. A justification from NTMN founder would be appreciated.

    • ntmn July 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Dear Srikanth

      Thanks for your high expectations. The article in question belongs to a category called \”Ripped-Apart\”, and we have not defined its extremities, unlike other sections of the website. This particular section, due to this reason, has indeed received criticism in the past (a reason which has made this category very irregular now), and we will attempt in the future to avoid being too rude and opinionated. I agree it may get unfair to the personality/institution being \”ripped-apart\”, and their fans. Your response is very crucial, and we will take it into account.

  13. Rakesh Narang August 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    The new Custom Arras theme looks amazing, NTMN rocks.

  14. Jorawar August 26, 2011 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Mr. Siddharth,

    By chance, are you a published author? If you’re one, did your novel sell even 10% of the number of CB’s novels? If yes, then you have full right to write this.

    Else, I suggest you to write a novel better than CB’s novels, and then write such articles.

    #JustSaying

    P.S. – Even I’ve read just one of his novels, and it was pretty mediocre.

    Regards,

    Jorawar Walia

    http://www.jwalia.blogspot.com

    • Siddhartha August 27, 2011 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Hello Jorawar,

      By no chance am I a published author. Not yet.

      Behind the words spelling angst, the article was to make people realise that how good an author is #cannot (considering you too used hash tags out of context and appropriate networking platform) be judged by the sole number of books he sells. The whole idea is to realise immaterial of that, how well he writes and how gripping a tale he can spin. Sales of books is not always the right measure.

      I have been hearing he is bringing out another book. Revolution. Getting a book titled THAT at a pressing time like this, when the whole nation is going mad about a political paradigm shift is only a market strategy. How can the books not sell.

      And if/when I do publish a book of my own, I will not be writing to sell it off in supermarkets next to bread and jeans #Quoting CB himself. I’d like to write something I am more satisfied with than people.

      • Bharat December 19, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

        I happen to be a published author many times over. Not the verbose elite type, but you know the cut and dried…make your case as succintly as possible…and be 100% precise…type. I LOVED CB and all those around me did too. I like how he tells his story and how he doesnt have any subtlety. I like it when stuff looks like what it is and is presented with 100% clarity. I hate it when stuff is written in riddles. If you write in riddles, you probably dont understand your own stuff. In case you were curious, my cohort and I write research papers in pure math. Maybe we have low IQ, who knows?

    • Rishi Ayyer August 28, 2011 at 2:17 am - Reply

      Dear Mr. Jorawar,

      If every critic had to accomplish 10% of the work of whoever they’re criticizing, who would criticize? I’m, “just saying”, that your point was, umm, baseless. The point in fact is, Indians buy masala, read masala, and promote masala, Which is probably the reason every writer who writes anything relevant at all has a problem with CB and his companions. That they milk the market for all that it’s got, without enriching it even one bit. Maybe next time, you’ll refrain to your views on the topic and article, rather than resorting to personal remarks.

      • Gaurav Singhal September 3, 2011 at 5:20 am - Reply

        @ “Dear Mr Ayyer”

        You are asking people to refrain from personal comments on an article which itself is a personal (and unsolicited) remark on another individual. And you do this in a paragraph interlaced with “personal remarks” about CB (and Indian readers).

        That is pretty much the point made by Jorawar and in case you failed to notice, its not at all baseless

  15. Gaurav Singhal September 3, 2011 at 4:24 am - Reply

    @ Siddhartha:

    “Judge not, lest ye be judged”

    The fact that you thought yourself fit to critic an ‘author’ without reading (completely) even a single book by him, speaks volumes about the credibility of this silly article.

    I dont know about Cheta Bhagat, but your article certainly left a bad taste in my coffee. And looking at the comments, that seems to be the popular sentiment.

  16. Gaurav Singhal September 3, 2011 at 4:31 am - Reply

    And by the way, speaking of marketing gimmicks (which you seem so fond of condemning), I find the nature of this article to be a boringly popular marketing stunt. Throw mud on a famous author and you have your own readership inflated. Interesting, I say.

    • Rishi Ayyer September 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      Yes, we write for you to read.

      • Gaurav Singhal September 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm - Reply

        Indeed. But whatever happened to being above crass commercialization and writing things which are “relevant” and classy…lol @ the vagaries of pseudo intellectuals.

        But I should thank you for pandering to the tastes of “Indian readers” by writing such “masala”. Hell, I like you! You should come home and teach me a few of your tricks.

        • Siddhartha September 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm - Reply

          Damn! I replied without having gone through your last comment! Pardonmy impatience.

          Pseudo intellectuals! lol. Nice touch, that. But well, you see this is not a “pick-up-random-author-and-throw-mud-at-him” article. This is a “pick-up-overly-hyped-author-and-point-out-why-he-shouldn’t-be-overly-hyped” article.

          Don’t degrade my time and writing by calling this a masala article. Oh how I wish I could fall to that level, write like an uneducated pen wielder and gallop to glory. Nay, I choose a more artful path. And adhere I shall.

          And if you really want to learn few of our tricks, well, we’ll have to kill you if we tell you. ;)

          (now) Peace!

    • Siddhartha September 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      @ Gaurav

      I’d just like to point out a certain things you don’t seem to have derived yourself. The fault lies in me, for having assumed people can handle subtlety.

      With a minor apology, the first note is that I am not against marketing itself. What I am against is a really mediocre product being massively received. Simple. Use marketing to sell off something substantial, I shall not bat an eyelid. But then again, perhaps, that IS the essence of marketing in the first place. Got nothing to do with the quality of product? And before the debade drifts off to marketing…

      As for your Biblical quoting of “Judge not, lest ye be judged”, all I have to say is that I don’t mind being judged. Let me explain. I wrote the entire article without finishing a single work by CB. That is because having read fully wouldn’t have a made a difference to the observations I posed here. Do you or not, agree to it? My distaste was based on the method, quality and beauty of writing, not based on a length in general. I had hoped that too would be evident but going by what you call the general sentiment, I am dismayed that almost every reader skipped that point.

      If you want to realise better still what I meant by quality and not length, give yourself away to “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and you shall know for yourself.

      And this is a completely silly article. I couldn’t agree more with you… It has as much potential of changing the public’s opinion of CB as they have of changing mine. Ergo, silly.

      And lastly, add the water ‘after’ the coffee. No milk. Tastest better.

      Peace!

      • Gaurav Singhal September 5, 2011 at 2:11 am - Reply

        Thanks for recommending Animal Farm. I have already read it. Its a wonderful satire on Communism. But why am I saying this? Its because Animal Farm is what a satire should be like.Now ofcourse your editor will remind me that this is the “Ripped Apart” section and hell breaks loose here. But I personally feel and hope you would agree (since you fashion yourself to be the artful guy around here), that a work like AF can “rip apart” an entity much better than calumny can. For your article, my impatient friend, is not satire or any other art. It is downright calumny. It lacks examples, begs questions, lacks grace and generally feels like it has been written by (to borrow from Orwell again) – a prole. So having said that, allow me to recommend the same book back to you for a second read.
        And I hope you will write your next article in that spirit for I assure you that “Indian readers” can understand “subtlety” better than citizens of many other nationalities.

        Now let me thank you for giving a civil reply to my rude comments which did not merit any reply. But since your article is rude as well, the scales of cosmic justice are balanced. I am commenting so seriously because 1. We have vacations so I am vella 2. CB is an alumnus but more importantly because you are a wonderful writer and maybe one of the best Indian undergrad writers I have come across (yeah i know i dont read too much..hehe). And you have your own style and use very clever lines. But alongside your crusade to dispel the ‘myth’ of CB being ‘classy’, you might do well to peep at your own style and assumptions. Its certainly not “artful” by any stretch of imagination (even though it is good in its own way and I admire it, but then I also admire CB). So, maybe your opinions would not have changed after reading the book completely, but does that “assumption” preclude you from doing your duty as an “artful” critic? I hope not.

        For what is artful but a matter of opinion. Shakespeare was considered vulgar when he lived. Its very fashionable amongst (pseudo?) intellectuals to call CB trite. How can we be so sure that we are “Right” (well that rhymes..lol)

        Anyways I hope, I pray that you come up with a real satire and more Indian writers do that for then Insha Allah! I would gladly drink the bitterest coffee of their pen.

        Amen! and may peace be with you too.

        • Kumar Pratik September 5, 2011 at 10:39 am - Reply

          Wow. Siddhartha and Gaurav- It’s an honor just reading your comment thread. It makes me realize there is so much to learn, not just in writing, but also in critique. If there is a positive conclusion to this debate, it is that we all have our perspectives, and there are times when we just cannot agree. Let’s leave it at that.

        • Siddhartha September 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          If Kumar Pratik can pardon my last remark here, considering he called it a thread parlance equivalent of a day, I would like to say I do agree with you, Gaurav.

          I might come across as an Orwellian “Prole”. But not having the time to go through the book again just yet, also the renewed weight of an already impatient pile waiting to be read, I do apologize for sounding artless and myopic, if that is the right word.

          My arguments might not have sounded valid, nor my criticism just, but I must still say that my distaste was not unfounded. I do agree to a large extent that criticism is not even the same latitude as the intonation of my voice(?) here. It is a much more euphemistic version. But then again, this was my first Ripped Apart review, and I had not known better. And I shall definitely write more reformed and more in context in the future. I do thank you for having liked my style, if not the contents.

          Do not consider this writing as my general opinion on things though. I am no fan of CB, and I do boldly say that. Which might sound preposterous after this article, for perhaps that IS the very thought that blatantly glares back from each word herein. I choose not to delve into the writing style he portrays, and am bitterly aghast at the sheer number of people not wanting to taste better writing. That is about it. Reminds me greatly of Michael Sandel’s views of how the majority shall not choose a higher pleasure, although it is better in all senses, to a lower one available for a lesser taxation of senses and availability.

          I do hope the pen wielders yet to paint their dun parchments ink musings that not only help you brew up a higher consciousness, but also a swirling mug of delectable coffee.

  17. Candida F December 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I’m pretty sure I’m very late in this, but thank you. I was having a day that refused to give under the weight of CB book lovers, and this article cheered the hell out of me.
    Thank you for voicing all the ire I feel (I liked the non-diluted version on your blog better).
    Having an opinion and some taste in reading has gone down quite badly in this country with people like CB calling themselves writers. Recent TV shows with severely biased endings and hosts seem to berate anyone with the ability to dislike his work because he is after all a “best-selling author”. Now that is what good work is based on – how much it sells. Books have finally gone from opening minds to shutting them up inside hideously packaged marketing gimmicks.
    Thanks for the hope that there are still some readers left, who I hope, won’t let good writers die out.

    Merci Beaucoup!

    • Jagadeesh September 26, 2012 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Agreed Candida…Reading your message gave me more hope of readers in India too.

  18. Clive December 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    More than Chetan Bhagat getting ripped apart, I see one Mr. Gaurav Singhal sweetly ripping apart the author. Nicely done… (to Gaurav Singhal not the author.)

  19. Vishant August 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Well im pretty new here. To all the ignorant people out there who suckle at fad, YOU dont know what you are missing and i dont give a …..

  20. Jagadeesh September 26, 2012 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Hi Siddhartha,

    I agree with your views & followups on CB. I am not writing here to just say, ” I Agree”. I share the same pain in knowing CB as you…Recently I watched a video of CB trying to speak to some college students on value of education…He was conveying a ” cycle story” which was irrelevant, absolutely painful to hear and showed that CB has an intellectual handicap…

    I am a reader who has lived with books like “God of Small things”, “India by Naipaul” etc…Anybody who says these people produce advanced writing is wrong…Arundathi Roy’s writing is so creative, simple and invented….SHE SAID THAT IF SHE DIDNT WRITE THAT BOOK SHE WOULD HAVE DIED….SHE IS THAT KID OF WRITER..

    CB WRITES BOOKS LIKE AN INVESTSMENT BANKING JOB…While he might have a social interest, I have absolutely no doubt that he is worthless because he does not have balanced social views nor he does enough groundwork to speak of any social reforms…

    CB is not a great observer of humans either…his writing is like fastfood in dustbin without nutritional or health value for the reader.

    I have nothing wrong nor am I jealous of CB…I have infact never got so angry on anybody else…CB infuriates me because he is a total crap and his writing reflects that.

    The other day my wife was reading one of his books…she suddenly turned to me and said ” it is so very painful to read his attempts to describe a woman…this guy CB uses repetitive language, works on a novel concept like a banking application and comes across as an absolute reflection of useless writing”…She threw the book away but she suffered from pangs of reading his book for quite sometime…

    So, those of you who have time to read please choose a writer first and know him…because writings can un do you and if you go low, you might never come back to be normal.

    CB is a mega serial typecast….he will keep writing and might be very successful…But please dont hurt your intellect by reading him if possible…

  21. Jagadeesh B September 28, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Hi Guys,

    I felt a bit guilty about commenting on Chetan Bhagat’s writing skills…Writing alone does not make a writer isnt it? I bought the Revolution 2020 book and read it fully, finished it just an hour ago…

    Now i clearly understood that it is not the writing skills critics hate most about CB. I have come to the conclusion that CB does not have any clue on the subtleties of life….For example, when love comes, it does not allow a person to control his destiny…It will do whatever it likes and sweep the person off his feet….In this book however I was pained to read CB allow Gopal to TAKE DECISIONS ON LOVE for the benefit of the overall good of the nation!

    By the way, love cleanses and also transforms…If Gopal’s love for Arti is justified, the same love could have made him totally a clean, uncorrupt man…there is no justification of loss or love or transfer of love in this book.

    Like a good investment banker Chetan Bhagat trades love, invests, transfers, gains rebate, sacrifices etc….

    He goes about chapters like university course assignments…i enjoyed a parts of the novel but overall I hated to know about Chetan Bhagat’s mind….he looked like a employee looking for a job salary raise to me…He used this book to hopefully get another movie maker come to him.

    Writing friends, is noble and often sprouts out if the author is tremendously pained or joyed or transformed….V.S. Naipaul ended writing when he felt that he will not do justice to writing…

    Chetan Bhagat embraces writing like an everyday job – we have accepted commercialization in many aspects of life…I hate to believe that writing is commercialized this way because the power of writing can kill or create….

    Chetan Bhagat should take a few years off from writing now…He has won fame and money…He needs to sort out in his mind why he enjoys writing? What is the dying need for him to write so often? If he sorts that out and really feels a need to create, let him come back…I will buy his book and pray that he gets better as a writer.

    Lots of absolute mess this book is….adding to more chaos in the world, anyway cant help it, what has to happen will happen.
    Thanks,
    Jagadeesh

  22. Tatsat December 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I personally do not read his books. Endured FPS though, 7 years back in first year of college. But lets keep that aside for the moment.

    I believe you have reiterated the same thing over and over again, incessantly, in your “review”. And, you are ill-informed, myopic and elitist – all at the same time. I will explain how :)

    In a number of interviews, starting from the first with Telegraph, he has admitted that he was not there for a place in the hall of fame. And, he admits it even today. All what he aimed to do was to democratise/decentralise english reading. His readers are normal mango people- drivers, hawkers et al, the ones who would read a Rushdie and wouldn’t bother for Ayn Rand. In simpler terms, he did give them all a push.

    Your take on literature is something which is said in complicated words with eloquent imagery. Fair enough. But there are those who do not want to have all that. They do not have the time to read up the 2500 pages of Potter or LOTR.

    Your comment sounds as if you look those who read Bhagat as 4th world citizens. Looking down upon for book-choices is fine, until you keep that to yourself.

    So, yes. I think he puts up consumerist products but it does appeal to a section who can not/ does not read much. I think that is no mean achievement !

    And, to quote Mark Twain – “A discriminating irreverence is the creator and protector of human liberty.”

    References:
    1) http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-31/books/31261683_1_chetan-bhagat-jaipur-literary-fest-rakhi-sawant

    2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blRc8HIluEM

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