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Chetan Bhagat: Do work that pays; grow your passion

May 21, 2010 11:20 IST
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Chetan Bhagat had been in the eye of a storm recently when he held that his book's adaptation to a movie failed to give him due credit. He talks to Urmila Rao about his latest book States: The Story of My Marriage and more...

What has been the most memorable moment of your school life?
My first crush in class V, when I first discovered romance. Now I make a living out of it!

What were your career plans in college?
I wanted to go to college just to make my parents happy. There was no professional ambition as such. I have become a full-time writer only now. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. There are still some parts that I have not figured out.

Which teacher or professor do you remember the most and why?
Of the many, I remember Professor Veera of IIT Delhi. He encouraged innovation and creativity; he encouraged my ideas and asked me not to worry about my grades.

What was your first salary?
It was Rs 1,500 that I earned working at the Cadbury's factory at Lonavala as  part of my IIT internship in 1994. 
How did you spend it?
Definitely not on chocolates as they were free! I spent some on my girlfriend, some on calling my parents back home and I also upgraded my travelling from train to plane. For the first time, I flew from Pune to Delhi to meet my parents.
Is being a writer tough?
When I wrote my first book and started looking out for a publisher, I knocked nine doors to rejection. By the tenth, I was exasperated and decided it would be my last. I was ready to give up. But Lady Luck finally smiled. Today, there are nine publishers eager to take me on board. But I have decided to stick with my first publisher.

How do you deal with setbacks?
It is said that success is dedicated to God so by the same token, setbacks and failures are also dedicated to God, so don't take it personally. Have a sense of humour and don't link it to life so seriously. Learn from it and get better.

Should one take up a profession of passion or profession which pays?
In India, it is dangerous to take up a profession of passion. Take up a profession that pays and grow your passion. 
What have been the most fascinating and despairing moments of your professional life?
Struggling to get my first book published was the most despairing moment. Today my latest book has four lakh copies booked in advance.

Should one live for fun or live with a purpose?
Purpose can be fun also. Fun should also have a purpose. It is interlinked.
Tell us something about your latest book.
It's about modern inter-community marriage. The book is based on my personal life. I am a Punjabi married to a Tamilian girl. It's a comedy with the message that India has to become one. I hope that my book will let the community prejudices go away a little faster. 
Which book did you read last?
Eat, Pray and Love.

Photograph: Rajesh Thakur/ Outlook Group

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