I met the man, the brand, who allegedly has the power to change this generation*! He never claims as much, as he seems to bask in the aphorism.
I walked into his talk show, which claimed I would be pepped up. ‘An inspirational evening with Chetan Bhagat’, that’s what it was titled. So I looked for anything that lifted the throbbing wobbly parts of myself no sooner I stepped into the extravagant Ritz Carlton. A chilled drink did the best it could and a friendly hostess did some more to pacify the vengeful sinus-vertigo aliens unhappy with me not pampering them.
Soon, the man with about 2.3 million Twitter followers and 4.2 million FB fans walked in escorted by two women.
What did I expect!
Well, he took the stage and started with a disclaimer. “I will not give advices. Especially for this audience… if you’ll can afford to be here, you’ll don’t need my advice… so I’ll speak of my life.”
Some connect there!
Soon I was left wondering why the PowerPoint presentation. But I almost forgave him, when I heard his confession of having to do certain things against his better judgement in public domain. Like how he ‘fights’ on News channels when the hyper host poses questions such as ‘The nations says this about you. What would you say Chetan Bhagat?” And he lets go…
Having goals is crucial to living life, he continued. When he became a full-time writer his first goal was to challenge publishers who rejected his manuscripts. And thus he began urging NRIs to challenge themselves. “NRIs only exist…they lack the zing in them..” With annually increasing bank balances, bigger homes and sending kids go to the best institutions, NRIs “pull on” and “go on”. He called on all to chase their dreams.
My fav topic! I was all ears
That’s when I heard him say his dream was to be a househusband. Some laughs, muffled and modest followed when he delivered the age-old mom-in-law and wife jibes. He went on to recommend how important it is to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’, and gave the example of his upcoming movie ‘2 States’ – based on his autobiographical book by the same name.
“Form partnerships, cultivate patience, be humble…” were his tips for success. His political allegiance to BJP and reasons for him thrashing the fledgling AAP was also clarified in the process.
By now I was slouched in my chair!
“I have travelled to more than 100 cities and interact with about 5 crore people currently…”
I lost the connect!
And so, I asked, “Would you have taken the decision to give up your job had your wife not been a successful professional?” Without batting an eyelid, he replied, “No. I would have never taken such a decision had I not been supported.”
I sat up.
“You are one of the most criticized authors. How do you tackle that?” Again, without taking as much a second, he replied, “You just learn to deal with it.”
The hows were missing. The ‘H’ that will elevate people; that which will differentiate a well-orchestrated show from that of a Wikipedia evening; that which will add the zing he alleges is missing in NRIs; that which will pep up aspirants and wannabes; that which will fuel those revving up on their tracks towards their dreams…
The trials and tribulations during his incubation period, the brick bats he battled; his mental, emotional state when overcoming them; his modus operandi…is what the audience would have taken home and adopted and remembered when they feel low and seek to get out of the mundane rut.
Nevertheless, I did connect. His honesty vowed me. So did his humbleness. As when he answered my direct query about quitting his job, looking me in the eye. As when he spoke of giving his kids middle-class values. As when he said family is the base, everything else is secondary…
A connect lies in the ears of the audience, as with the heart of the speaker… provided there are no expectations!
PS: [*Meghnad Desai called this the Chetan Bhagat generation]