Ketan: Author should concentrate on writing and not marketing.
I was a bit nervous when I left for this interview, it was just my second interview and the man was Ketan Bhagat. Though, he is a debutant author and I being the senior if writing is concerned but that name, it kinda have the value of Bachchans in the literature world. His Brother Mr. Chetan Bhagat brought a revolution with his debut novel which inspired thousands of other enthusiast to pen their own stories and now when we have actually, been bored reading those stereotypes college romance, Mr. Ketan Bhagat promises to bring a renaissance with a different story all together. Let’s know more about him and his debut novel Complete/Convenient.
Subho: My first question might be annoying but then what it feels like being called the Chotta Chetan?
Ketan: Great…. Why would this be annoying in anyway?
(I know it’s annoying, I could see the red in his eyes. Might be though because of heat outside or sleepless nights. )
Subho: Protruding waistline, fast receding hairline, stressed at work and still getting used to being called ‘Uncle.’ I guess that’s every thirty something story until and unless you’re Salman Khan, what makes you to put that on your Site? Is it to say that you’re different from your Brother?
Ketan: I just wrote what is true about me and for most of the men in my age group. This has nothing to do with Chetan Bhagat. In fact, Chetan has none of these problems J
Subho: I understand Sir. I, at 25 facing that waistline problem but I have a better hairstyle you see.
(***Ketan rolls his eyes in disgust***)
Subho: Might be it ‘sound grass on the other side is green’ but then Malaysia, NZ and Australia, I would always prefer them; I heard beer is so cheap there in Australia?
Ketan: Yes, beer is actually very cheap in Australia. I think cheaper than petrol and coke as well. I have lived in Malaysia, NZ and Australia and would highly recommend these countries. These are fantastic places to live in. Please note, my view or my novel is not about ‘please come back to India’… I don’t think you need to be in India to prove you love India. Through my book, I am only telling people how life is actually there. So they can make a decision based on realism. Not how Karan Johar shows them J
(Hey! I liked that guy not for his movies but for launching Aliya Bhatt)
Subho: You worked in Satyam and it doomed, when exactly then you joining our government? Jokes apart but I need to ask what a NRI see India as a country today?
Ketan: I don’t need to join government. It’s doomed anyways J
I think NRIs think of India very much like we residents think of it – love it, feed sad for it, feel helpless, angry, hopeless and numbed by the things that happen every day. Only added emotion is that most of them also miss India and probably value it more than us living here.
(Who says it’s doomed. It has doomed our country rather but he is not interested to discuss and so am I)
Subho: Are you back here to bring in some change, contribute in development or were just missing Parents and friends?
Ketan: All of these
(He’s lying, he is back for Chicken Tikka and Tandori)
Subho: Finally, one question on your book, what’s it all about?
Ketan: It’s a man’s journey through a particular phase of life – post marriage, before kids.
(Does he mean fun or miseries? We need to read the book for that. COMPLETE/ CONVENIENT is now available at flipkart)
Subho: Normally, these days’ authors come up with stereotype college romances for their debut novels. Moreover, even Publishers prefer such sexually charged scripts since they sell a lot, so how do you think you gonna make an impact with your Corporate Stories?
Ketan: My story is not a corporate story. It is story about what most men go through when they get married and relocate. Told from a man’s point of view, it captures emotions that are seldom captured in books and movies yet are thoroughly entertaining and insightful. I am glad most authors and publishers are dishing out college romances and sexual content. Automatically, this separates my book from the rest.
Subho: Was it easy for you to get a publisher, I mean your name; what impact it made?
Ketan: I had assumed things would be easy because of my lineage and name. But No they weren’t. RUPA (Chetan’s publisher) didn’t respond to my manuscript for 6 months and after Chetan intervened, they sent a mail saying that it was rejected. After that, I had to struggle like any other writer - Make cold calls, send emails and face rejections. Luckily, I found few publishers interested in my work. My name – Bhagat – would have definitely been one of the factors in the publisher’s mind. But it wasn’t the only reason. Otherwise we wouldn’t have worked so hard in editing, cover design etc. The name – Bhagat – has also helped me getting attention from some section from media and readers.
(I rather not comment, they are my publishers after all)
Subho: I though see you coming with different publisher, is it because of that making-something-of-your own attitude?
Ketan: Nothing like that… honest reason is that RUPA (Chetan’s publisher) rejected my manuscript.
(I still prefer staying mum, my own book coming in October. I better give it to the fans)
Subho: Sir, let’s connect to your fans.
Ketan: My first live chat of such kind... Really excited... A bit nervous too J
(It shows, he forgot his FB password. There is a slight delay for that. I asked him to try his girlfriend’s name but he glares at me angrily.)
Ketan: I am married.
Subho : Folks!!!! We have Ketan with us.
(And the wall is flooded with Best Wishes)
Ketan: Jimit, Sanjeet, Sushmita, Priyanka, Himani, Ashish, Manu, Chhanda, Abhishek, Sandeep, Pushpendra, Kaushik and many more, thanks for your wishes.
Shraddha: My question to Ketan Sir is how was the feeling when you completed the first chapter of the novel?
Ketan: It was great but also I realized how naive and unskilled I was.
Thariq: Hello Mr . Ketan Bhagat! My elder sister reads your novels the most, on her behalf thank you.
(Now from where that came? It’s a conspiracy! I look at Ketan sheepishly.)
Ketan: I have just written my first novel, so maybe your sister reads Chetan’s novels...
Thariq: I am sorry, mistake.
(*** Thariq disappears. For googling, I guess***)
Md. Bigodi: Hi! Ketan sir, I am a great fan of you. I always wanted to know who’s your favorite author apart from your brother? Who has inspired you to be a great writer?
(Chetan & Subhasis, of course)
Ketan: No favorite author as such as I don't think one person writes great every time. But I do love midnight's children from Salman Rushdie.
(Trust me Mr. Bigodi, you will always be remembered as his first fan, expect your name in acknowledgements.)
Sambit: Hey Ketan, how was yours and your brother's name coined? I mean who gave both of your names??
Ketan: my brother was named after a panditji said his name has to start with C, so my mother thought of Chirag or Chetan. Our grandfather chose Chetan. Mine was because my mother met some Guajarati lady whose son was named Ketan. My mother thought that rhymed well with Chetan and liked the name as well, so I became Ketan.
(Anyway Chirag was not cool. Moreover, you don’t have anything rhyming there.)
Sunanda: What was the inspiration behind “COMPLETE/CONVENIENT”? Is the story related to real life incidents?
Ketan: Yes! It is based on real life incidents. Inspiration was the wave of emotions I myself went through few years ago. In fact I saw many of my friends in Australia going through the same.
Sunanda: How supportive was your family for you, especially your wife?
(He has to answer it positively until and unless he wishes to sleep on couch tonight)
Ketan: My wife was very supportive. In fact she had been pushing me to become a writer for a long time.
Rajveer: How and when you decided to write this book?
Ketan: About 3 years ago when we decided to move from Sydney to India though I wasn't into books. In fact never used to read and was happy cracking jokes amongst friends and doing humorous presentations. A lot of people thought i would become a standup comedian. Writing was the last thing in my mind.
(So Ketan is back to India to participate in Comedy Circus)
Abhishek: Congrats Mr. Bhagat for writing about something which is very relevant as well as refreshing. It’s true that perhaps every other middle class Indian kid "dreams" to spend at least a semester abroad if not a fully fledged course and that's not a longing for something unseen in every case.. In fact, going abroad at times ensure better opportunities as compared to India! You, yourself, have spent substantial time of your career overseas, what's your take on this??
(It’s called Brain Drain, dude!)
Ketan: I agree with you that abroad is a better life. I would recommend a stint outside India to every Indian.
Udita: People think you are getting undue advantage because you are Chetan's Brother , Your comment over this statement.
Ketan: Agreed! I am getting a lot of attention because I am Chetan's brother, that’s my good luck but I am also getting a lot of flak because I am Chetan's brother that’s again my destiny and I am not complaining on either.
(I like this girl’s DP. Funny! Anyway her question and followed reply has lot of likes. It was an expected question but nobody was to bell the cat.)
Udita: First interaction with public. How are you feeling? So many questions?
Ketan: Loving the attention. Never knew people would get so interested in me or my work. I am a 35 year old married, father of one, balding, fat man.
Subho: You should join a gym instead of crying here.
(***Ketan presses teeth***)
Ketan: I do yoga every day. My wife is a yoga instructor but yet I am nowhere near John or Salman
(***Ketan sighs*** I never knew John or Salman do yoga)
Udita: What was your brother's reaction about whole book thing? He expressed his views?
Ketan: He didn’t say much. He read the manuscript and said it’s readable.
Sameera: Which is the toughest part in writing a book?
Ketan: Writing in itself is the toughest part about writing a book... too much hard work and you can't outsource to anyone.
(I wonder then what are co-authors for?)
Debashree: So what’s next after Complete/Convenient???
(I guess royalty)
Ketan: if Complete/Convenient is successful then another book in about 2 - 3 years time... I have a story in mind.
(Girls interested in co-authoring!!! Upload your hottest pictures on FB)
Ketan: Has anyone here read COMPLETE / CONVENIENT or has started reading the book?
(Meanwhile Thariq is back from googling)
Thariq: Is there any e-book available?
(Stop asking irritating questions!!!!)
Ketan: There is an e-book available at Amazon. The link is available on my website.
(***Thariq is happy but I don’t think that the e-book would be free. ***)
(Meanwhile his phone is ringing, it’s his wife. I can guess that from his expression)
Ketan: Wow... I can't thank Subho and his team enough for this chat, nothing like connecting directly with your readers.
Subho: We still have half an hour left, you’re going nowhere. Please sit down.
Dhristy: I have been noticing lately that your brother’s name is been associated to you via lot many people in terms of competition may be. They are no wrong in their positions but then how do you personally feel about it? Because everyone wants his/her own identity and no one would love to be known as some one’s brother or sister. So how do you feel about this alliance?
Ketan: I am ok to be known as Chetan's brother that has been the case for the past 10 years. I am comfortable in my skin and not competitive by nature. So it’s ok for people to call me or associate me by any name. All I pray for is that people like my work. That’s my only focus. Apart from my novel, nothing else matters or should matter. Right?
(This girl has a gorgeous DP, I rather send her a friend request. ***Sends a friend request*** ***friend request accepted*** I’ll ping her after the interview.)
Astro: What about critics?
Ketan: They are welcome.
Soham: Tough competition at home. Does that intimidate you?
Ketan: No. Chetan is much more talented, successful and established. So I can't even think of competing with him. He is too ahead.
(This Guy Soham has pictures with Amir Khan. I better stay in contact with him, might be Amir is my chief guest at my book launch.)
Basil: Mr. Bhagat! For a debutant author, there is a perception that the literary endeavor is inspired from his/her own life, incidents around him/her, what they hear. Could you elicit an experience or two from your book?
Ketan: This book is based on real life experiences. Mostly mine but also of people I have known. Every character and twist in story is based on real life incidents too.
(This guy Basil is Journo from Goa and has pictures with many girls, I rather stay in his contact too.)
Neoni: Which is best part in novel you enjoyed writing??
Ketan: Every part. I love every chapter and have fought endlessly with my editor for every cut.
Ajinkya: The standard of writing has been drastically declining since the crappy authors and editors have started their own publishing houses to earn money and fame, or for other personal gains. What's your take on it? Can this epidemic be eradicated? If yes- how? If no- why?
Ketan: Yes it can be eradicated if readers start shunning bad products like we nowadays shun bad movies. Nothing works like response from customer. Anyway, I feel author should concentrate on writing and not marketing.
(Who says that? We still have Himmatwalla, Joker and Tees Maar Khan)
Shubham: I want ask that if you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Ketan: No. I seriously have worked very hard on this novel. I wouldn't let anything change. I have fought so hard with my editor in the past few months
Subho: This guy works in Flipkart
Ketan: Oh really? Why is flipkart still showing the book in pre-order?
(***Shubham freaks out***)
Shubham: Let me check sir.
Amit: Do you have that Davidson bike whose picture you posted on your website?
Ketan: No. I am a poor man. Live in a rented apartment and drive a Maruti Ecco. Can’t afford a Harley Davidson!
(I guess his Ecco has an A.C. I need a lift to the Station)
Subho: It actually been more than two hours and I am feeling damn hungry. Anyway, Ketan’s wife called thrice and I don’t think he wants to upset her on Sunday. So let’s wind up the Chat. Do check out his book Complete/Convenient and send us reviews.
Ketan: Thanks to Subho and his team for organizing the wonderful event. It was a great experience chatting with you people. Thank you folks. For your support. Cheers!!!!
Our Winners for this event are Sameera Sadaqat, Rajveer Singh Prajapati and Amit Agarwal.