Popular writer Chetan Bhagat, who is credited with introducing the genre of ‘campus novels’, says he is battling with “elitist bullying” when it comes to literature.
According to him, his books, which have “democratised” the act of reading with their wide reach, have often been dismissed as “non-serious” literature.
He says that it is for society and not “a privileged few” to decide what qualifies as good literature.
“Our country runs on elitism. It was colonised and when they left, the privileged people want to control the dialogue and narrative on issues … on what is good taste and culture.
“They don’t want somebody from a small town to come and say ‘I will decide what I like’. Whatever the masses want, they will look down on it just to keep their position. They say ‘Oh! That’s not literature.’ Who are they to decide? The society will decide what is literature,” he says.
For the 42-year-old author, literature is anything that mirrors a society that comprises not just of the elites but also the common man, and his fight against this “bullying” involves “breaking their hold on culture and society.”
“Literature’s job is to hold the mirror to the society. Which society? Our Indian society and not just the elitist. That is the battle I fight.
“It is a battle I cannot avoid. I am here to break that Ivory Tower, to break their hold on culture, society, and many other issues. But all they have is a better command of English. That is all. Their bullying stems from privilege. It’s the elitist bullying,” he says.
However, Bhagat maintains his books are “popular literature” and are not meant to be “intellectual kind of books”.
“Why even compare? It is like watching ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ and saying ‘why it is not BBC!'” he says.
The writer also asserts that he remains unaffected by the “bullying”, because his wide readership works as his security blanket.
“I am not bothered about this bullying. I am here to fight it. I have written seven books and they have sold, I have done movies and I’m loved by my readers. Lakhs of books have been pre-ordered and it shows the trust the readers have in me. Why should I be bothered with this nonsense?” he says.
Bhagat who has already penned six fictions, recently came out with his latest book, “One Indian Girl” which he has written from a female perspective.