Bhagat, Chetan 1974–
Bhagat, Chetan 1974–
Born April 22, 1974, in Delhi, India; son of Rekha Bhagat; married Anusha Suryanarayan; children: twin sons. Education: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, B.S., 1995; India Institute of Management, M.B.A, 1997. Hobbies and other interests: Yoga.
Home—India. Agent—Bhavna Sharma, Corporate Voice/Weber Shandwick Pvt. Ltd, 212, 2nd Fl, Okhla Industrial Estate, Phase-III, New Delhi, India 110 020.
Society Young Achiever's Award, 2004, for Five Point Someone; Rupa & Co. recognition award, 2005, for Five Point Someone.
Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT (novel), Rupa (New Delhi, India), 2004.
One Night @ the Call Center (novel), Rupa (New Delhi, India), 2005, published as One Night at the Call Center: A Novel, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to professional journals.
Film rights for Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center have been optioned.
An engineering graduate who has pursued a career in banking, Chetan Bhagat has created a sensation in his native India for his comical novels featuring young Indian professionals coping with a country that is rapidly changing. His debut book, Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT, is about a group of students at the India Institute for Technology, where Bhagat himself graduated. Feeling that they might become soulless working drones should they strive to get responsible jobs after college, the seven friends instead indulge in drugs, American rock music, and drinking. "Parental pressure, familial obligations, gender roles, dating, sex, drugs, suicide—just about every teen issue is addressed, and the book has struck a chord in India," reported Jeff Plunkett in a Time International article. The critic noted, though, that Bhagat does not go so far as to have his characters fail at school. They all graduate, despite cheating on exams and pursuing their hedonistic ways. "It's not all funny," observed a writer for the blog Krishna-Talkies. "Chetan has put some insights into the high level of pressure in professional colleges and how it affects the students."
Five Point Someone became a best seller in India and was optioned for film. The same has proven true with Bhagat's follow-up work, One Night @ the Call Center (also published as One Night @ the Call Center: A Novel). Here the setting is one of India's many call center companies, where the characters answer questions from Americans about various products. While the money is good, the young workers hate the company and its managers, who have no qualms about firing perfectly good employees for the sake of downsizing. They are also instilled with the belief that the average adult American has the intelligence of a typical ten-year-old Indian child. To prevent themselves from being fired for no good reason, the protagonists hatch a plan to encourage incoming calls about a Microsoft software package. The ploy goes horribly awry, however, to the point where lives are at stake and only a phone call from God Himself rescues the workers.
"Bhagat has issues with what he calls the high pedestal on which America has been placed," explained Jonathan Boorstein in a Direct review of Five Point Someone. "He maintains he is just telling the youth of India the reality of the United States and then they can make up their own minds." Some critics, as Shashi Tharoor pointed out in Foreign Policy, have observed that it "isn't great literature. Serious critics will no doubt quibble with the two-dimensional characterization, the pedestrian prose, the plot's contrived deus ex machina, and the author's hokey spiritualism. But none of that matters. Bhagat's tone is pitch-perfect, his observer's eye keenly focused on nuance and detail."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books, April 22, 2007, review of One Night @ the Call Center: A Novel, p. 12.
Call Center, October 1, 2006, "India Explores Call Center Culture in Film," p. 45.
Direct, February 1, 2006, Jonathan Boorstein, "Hello, Delhi."
Far Eastern Economic Review, March, 2006, Sadanand Dhume, "Untouchables: My Family's Triumphant Journey out of the Caste System in Modern India," p. 58.
Foreign Policy, March 1, 2006, Shashi Tharoor, "India Finds Its Calling," p. 78.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2007, review of One Night @ the Call Center, p. 41.
Time International, August 9, 2004, Jeff Plunkett, "Teenage Wasteland: Can Slackers Succeed at India's Elite Universities?," p. 51.
Chetan Bhagat Home Page,http://www.chetanbhagat.com/ontcc/index.php (September 24, 2007).
Krishna-Talkies,http://krishnatalkies.blogspot.com/ (September 14, 2005), review of Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT.
Rediff.com,http://in.rediff.com/ (February 8, 2006), Lindsay Pereira, "I Could Be Working in a Call Centre," interview with Chetan Bhagat.