Mr Bankable

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SummaryWith children as his audience, Chetan Bhagat recalls his journey from a banker to an author whose novels are now being made into films.

With children as his audience, Chetan Bhagat recalls his journey from a banker to an author whose novels are now being made into films.

The staff, children and guests — everyone sat straight up and listened to him in rapt attention. It seemed like he had cast a spell, for it isn’t easy to pin down children for a simple five minutes but author Chetan Bhagat had them glued to their seats for an hour and half.

At Chitkara International School, Sector 25, to deliver a talk on “What does Indian youth want from school teachers”, Bhagat gave the audience plenty of takeaways — “we have a generation with more hunger but little guidance”, “educationists need to embrace modernity in order to move forward” and “India needs to develop a scientific way of thinking and reasoning”.

“It’s your character that will take you forward, not the way you dress up or look,” said Bhagat, as he added, “ Life is simple in a movie. Everything gets sorted out for the hero in two hours. But in reality, life is long, difficult, testing and trying. But you are the hero of your life, and you have a long time to sort things out.” After comparing life with films, he went on to draw another comparison. “God is not real estate. We don’t need property agents like babas to reach him,” he said.

Although he doesn’t want to be an education minister but “doesn’t mind being on an advisory panel of one”. “Not many know but I’m a reasonably good cook and wanted to be a chef,” he said. Instead, he became an investment banker who left it and started writing books. Bestsellers, three of them have been made into films — Five Point Someone (Three Idiots), One Night @ Call Centre (Hello), and The Three Mistakes of My Life (Kai Po Che). His latest novel, Two States — about a Punjabi-Tamil couple — has also been made into a film. “I guess Bollywood finds my books bankable,” he said.

The Three Mistakes of My Life, he said, was a difficult story. “That someone would adapt it into a mainstream film and win accolades was far-fetched, and I thought it could at best have a chance at independent cinema,” he said.

He also cleared the air on Sajid Nadiadwala’s film Kick. “Salman never had issues about the film’s script. He never even read

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