“My first book was criticized for being thick” – Ketan Bhagat

Ketan Bhagat – An exclusive blend of self discovery and reality

The surname is familiar and the name as well is quite rhyming. Being the author of Complete/Convenient and Child/God, he is also a motivational speaker. He talks like a common man. His words describe the struggles of an individual trying to keep up the pace with people’s expectation. Now when both the sexes are considered equal and are in the same boat, stories on woman get more focus than man and so he tends to write on ‘man’ and from a man’s point of view.

In this chat, we get to know a bit more about Ketan Bhagat, who apart from being an author holds a Managerial position in an MNC here in India and that he is currently loving the process of discovery of his own self.

Tell us something about Ketan Bhagat and the Journey till date?

Regular man who was enjoying life in Australia till one day he realized the world was losing interest in him. Marriage, salary, health, appearance… suddenly everything wasn’t going uphill anymore. As life started becoming more and more about managing bills, stress, deadlines, relationships etc., I found myself living a life where I had to work hard just to remain at the level I had reached. It was tiring, boring and felt empty. I wasn’t creating anything new. The level above me was even more difficult to reach and seemed even more boring and empty.

That’s when I decided to actually do something about the advice I had been getting from friends and family for years. Writing. Since Chetan Bhagat, my elder brother, was already the numero uno writer in India, I knew my rhyming first name and the common surname would help me get published and noticed.

The journey turned out to be nastier than expected. Its only when you write that you actually start appreciating writers. More so the ones who have actually made it big. I sucked in both writing and promoting myself. But God and readers have been kind. Despite the many goof ups, I have managed to carve a small niche for myself. In the process, I had an interesting brief encounter with Bollywood when Rahul Roy attempted making a movie on my first book and also became a regular motivational speaker. Both these developments weren’t part of the plan but are significant milestones of my journey.

1824017When and how did you start writing? What inspired you to write?
What do you think must have inspired Abhishek Bachchan to act? What do you think is motivating Sachin Tendulkar’s son to become a professional cricketer? The same reason. I always had a creative streak but when my own real brother became the biggest rock star writer of the country, it was hard to tell myself that it’s impossible to find success in this field. Luckily, I am a thick-skinned shameless person. I had no qualms about being accused of being a copy cat. In some ways this was true and also helped me get a second glance.

Tell us something about your writing style?

I write simple coming-of-age stories that happen to most men of our times. Being a man, as I live life, I struggle to find stories told from a man’s perspective. While there is ample justice done to all phases of life that women go through, I remember being totally taken aback with the situations I faced after I got married. No story had prepared me for it. Ditto for when I became a father. Fatherhood is a fascinating journey that most men go through and yet it’s always motherhood that is celebrated in stories.

Through my writing, I aim to write stories that will highlight to the world what Indian men go through at various stages of life.

The authors you admire & Why?

I don’t read much. But I do remember being in awe of Salman Rushdie after I read ‘Midnight’s children.’

Small descriptions on book/s you have worked on till date?

Two books only so far.

My first one – Complete/Convenient – was about a man getting married and moving on to Australia for a better life. The aim was to give a real life glimpse of newly married life and NRI life from a man’s perspective.CompleteConvenientCover

The second one – Child/God – was about a man who finds the meaning of life through his new born child. The endeavor here was to showcase the emotions that men go through when they become fathers.

Did you face any challenges in writing and publishing your first book?

Loads of them. Besides the struggle that every newcomer has to go through – knocking doors of publishers, running after bookstores, tagging people on social media in the hope they will read the book etc. I also had to deal with people’s expectation of being Chetan Bhagat’s brother. Plus, I write thick books which are nowadays out of fashion. Trust me, the amount of struggle I go through every time I write a book, I can write a novel on that topic itself

How did you manage them if you had any?

No rocket science. Just kept trying to make the most of the imperfect opportunities that came my way. At least they were opportunities. Fortunately, writing books isn’t the only thing I do in life. I have a regular job and am also a motivational speaker. Those keep me going.Child-God-Cover

Do you follow any routine steps before crafting a story?

No. The only rule I try to follow is that the story should be something that consumes me totally, it shouldn’t have been told before and yet is relevant, relatable and engaging. Rest there is no pattern or discipline at all. Just an example, my first book was criticized for being thick. Everyone advised me to ensure that the second book was thinner. In reality, my second book is thicker than my first book.

Your favorite pass time and hobby?

To be honest, besides writing my next novel and reading the holy Geeta, everything else in my life is pass time and hobby. Sometimes you pay for entertainment like movie, television, theatre etc. and sometimes you are paid for entertainment like MNC jobs etc.

Life has taught me that whatever cause, object or person you take extremely seriously, a few years later, you realize it was silly of you to blow it out of proportion in your head. Everything and everyone of us is a passenger of time. Best to do your bit, enjoy the rest as an audience and let it go with passage of time. Nothing belongs to anyone.

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How about sharing your future projects with your fans out there?

Too early to talk about it. But it is a dark story around one of the perils of women empowerment.

What suggestions would you like to give to the upcoming writers?

Be sure of your end objective. If you are writing to earn money and fame, the probability is really low in writing. Probably lower than even trying your hands on acting.

Other than being an author, how would you describe yourself?

As ridiculous as it may sound, I often find myself like Rahul Gandhi may be feeling. I am on the wrong side of thirties but I still really don’t have the basic answers. Who am I? Why was I born? What do I really want to do with my life? What is it that I want to achieve?

Yet believe me, I find most people around me like myself only. They think they are the Arnab Goswamis of their world but in reality they are like the panelists in Arnab’s show. Grappling for answers. So in that sense, apart from my writing, I live a regular common man life. For example, my biggest worry isn’t what will happen if GST bill isn’t passed, but what will happen if my maid suddenly goes on a leave. I am one of those men who get scared whenever the constable at the traffic signal waves his hand towards my car.

Five years of writing has opened my eyes to a world that fifteen years of MNC slavery couldn’t manage. I am nowadays enjoying the process of discovering myself. Hopefully, a few more interesting stories and facets would tumble out in coming years.

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