Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Prakash Bhagat (born 22 April 1974) is an Indian author and columnist. He was included in Time magazine’s list of World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010.

Bhagat graduated in mechanical engineering at IIT Delhi and completed an MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. He started his career as an investment banker but left it after a few years to pursue his passion for writing. He has written nine novels and three non-fiction books. His first novel, Five Point Someone, was published in 2004. His novels have been listed as bestsellers.

Five of Chetan Bhagat’s novels have been adapted into Bollywood films like Hello in 2008 (based on One Night @ the Call Center), 3 Idiots in 2009 (based on Five Point Someone), Kai Po Che! in 2013 (based on The 3 Mistakes of My Life); 2 States in 2014 (based on his novel of the same name) and Half Girlfriend in 2017 (based on his novel of the same name). Bhagat has also written the scripts for Bollywood films like Kick in 2014 and adapted his stories for the movies Kai Po Che! and Half Girlfriend. Bhagat won the Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay for Kai Po Che! at the 59th Filmfare Awards in 2014.

 

Early life

Chetan Bhagat grew up in Naraina Vihar, West Delhi in a traditional middle-class Punjabi Hindu family. His father served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army and his mother worked in a government job in the agriculture department. He was schooled at The Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan. He claims to have been an average student at the age of 15.

In Class V, Bhagat submitted a small joke for his school magazine, after being forced to do so by his teacher. Seeing his name in print greatly impressed him.

Bhagat graduated with a BTech degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1995. He stayed in IIT Delhi’s Kumaon Hostel in Room No NB 24, which is now considered lucky by hostellers as it is believed that two other published authors, besides Bhagat had stayed in the same room.

Bhagat then went on to do an MBA in Marketing from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and graduated in 1997 with an MBA degree. He was awarded as the “Best Outgoing Student” of his batch. In June 2018, IIMA awarded him the “Young Alumni Achiever’s Awards 2018” in the Art & Entertainment category.

Career

After graduating with an MBA in 1998, Bhagat was placed through his campus at Peregrine Investments Holdings in Hong Kong. However, Bhagat lost this job within six months as the company closed its operations in 1998. His next banking job was as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs at their Hong Kong office. Despite being unhappy with his boss at the bank, he stayed on due to a lack of options. Bhagat kept this boss in his mind when he characterised the villain in his second novel One Night @ the Call Center. Bhagat spent most of his time at the Goldman Sachs office in writing, completing and revising drafts of his first novel, Five Point Someone. He worked on 15 drafts of the manuscript. He kept contacting publishers and was rejected. After two years, Rupa Publications accepted his manuscript and offered to publish it after some feedback. After the required changes were made, the novel Five Point Someone was finally published in 2004, when it was declared to be a best-seller.

Bhagat then quit Goldman Sachs and joined Deutsche Bank. By 2006, he was vice-president, Strategic Investment Group, Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. His second novel, One Night @ the Call Center, was published in 2005 and became a best-seller. The entire print-run of 50,000 copies of the book was sold within three days, setting a record for India’s fastest-selling book. In March 2008, Bhagat shifted back to India with his wife and three-year-old twin sons after spending more than 10 years in Hong Kong. He joined as a director in Deutsche Bank’s distressed-assets team in Kodak House, Mumbai. The same year his third novel, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, was published and sold five lakh copies in three months.

Bhagat continued to work as an investment banker in 2008 in Deutsche Bank, Mumbai, putting in 12 hours in the office. His day job would keep him busy analyzing the financial reports of loss-making companies and bad loan portfolios of other banks that Deutsche Bank may eventually acquire. He kept a low profile in the bank despite having three best-sellers to his credit. Neither the head of corporate communications in the bank nor the HR head was aware that Bhagat worked with them in their Mumbai office.

By August 2008, Bhagat was earning as much from his writing, as he was from his bank job. He had three successful best-seller novels and two movies based on his novels were being shot. It was in 2009 that Bhagat quit his international investment banking career to devote full-time to writing.

Bhagat considers writing to be a flexible career which “you can do… anywhere” He accepts the fact that his personal life suffers at times because of his professional commitments. The protagonist of all his novels is named after Krishna.

Chetan is also a popular motivational speaker and has spoken at more than 300 organizations in 50 cities around the world. He speaks at corporates, educational institutes, government bodies and volunteer agencies. He is also featured in the list of Top 10 Motivational Speakers in India.

 

Reception

Bhagat was referred to as “the biggest-selling English-language novelist ever in India” according to The New York Times. However, he has been criticised for his writing skills. He has even been accused of plagiarism for his novel One Indian Girl, which he denied.

In April 2017, the University of Delhi‘s decision to include Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone as part of the English Literature syllabus was criticised. In September 2017 the University announced that they had kept this decision on hold.

Bibliography

Novels

Non-fiction

Awards and accolades

  • Featured on Timemagazine’s list of World’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010 in the Artists category
  • Listed ’47’ among the “100 Most Creative People 2011” by the Fast CompanyAmerican business magazine and business media brand
  • Won the “CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2014” award in the Entertainment category
  • Ranked No. 82 on the 2017 Forbes IndiaCelebrity 100 list.