Chetan Bhagat intends to impact young people
Mumbai: Best-selling author Chetan Bhagat, who has found a place in Time magazine`s list of 100 most influential people, says it was amazing to interact with "the world`s best under one roof". He believes his success will keep the hopes of Indian youth alive and would continue to "lobby with politicians" on youth issues.
Bhagat is unlikely to forget the close encounters with international celebrities at the event at the Lincoln Centre in New York May 4. He met actor Ben Stiller, singer Elton John and Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow.
"I had a conversation with Ben Stiller about filmmaking and how he juggles roles between being an actor, writer, director and producer and how he decides what to do when," Bhagat told reporters on his return.
As for singer Taylor Swift, the author couldn`t help marvel at how young and successful she was.
"Taylor Swift is a 20-year-old music sensation in the US who came from nowhere and has already sold 100 million albums. I asked her how she handles so much fame, and she spoke about having a tight set of old friends that keeps her grounded," he said.
About his conversation with ‘The Hurt Locker’ director Kathryn Bigelow, he said: "I chatted with her on how she agreed to do such an offbeat film like `The Hurt Locker`. She told me she`s attracted to odd stuff.
"Bill Clinton`s speech was outstanding too. He spoke of how the room was unique as people in the room have tried to influence others by their positive work which is different from terrorists who influence by hurting others.
"It was amazing to see so many of the world`s best under one roof. From known faces like Ben Stiller, Elton John and Bill Clinton to people who are developing cancer vaccines and saving forests, you realize how little you are compared to these people and there is such a long way to go," said the writer of books like "Five Point Someone" and "One Night At The Call Centre".
Bhagat is still pretty much over-powered by the experience of being in the Time magazine list.
"It is one of the truly important moments of my life. Not only because it is a global recognition but also that the recognition came because of influence, something that is the intention behind all my work. It is baffling that I`m the only Indian in the artists category and that there were only two writers globally in the list that includes world leaders as well."
Chetan can`t forget the moment he heard he had been selected. " It was late at night and I was brushing my teeth. Radhika Jones, a senior editor, called and gave me the news. So you can say I was literally foaming in my mouth when I heard it."
Bhagat now intends to use his `influence` to impact young people in the country.
"The entertainment is fine; it`s what else I can do with my writing that matters. My columns in the Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar are increasingly about youth issues or suggestions to politicians about improving conditions for youth. My talks continue around the country, over 50 in the last year alone.
"I lobby with politicians on youth-based issues whenever I can. Also, I must continue to be successful in my writing work as a lot of young people see me as like them and get inspired by me. They see me as the rare case where a middle-class boy came from nowhere and left his mark. I need to succeed not only for myself but also for them to keep their hopes alive. That yes, it can be done."
Bhagat can`t help notice the irony of being accused of cheap publicity at home and being recognised globally.
"The irony is that a few months ago, a few people accused me of seeking cheap publicity, and now I`m recognised as one of the most influential people in the world. There couldn`t have been a more fitting response...".
The bitter experience Chetan had with the makers of "3 Idiots" has not disenchanted him towards Bollywood.
"I am helping Abhishek Kapoor on the script of the `3 Mistakes Of My Life`. Apart from that I will do a straight-to-script rom-com. I haven`t decided any firm themes for my fifth book yet. I also am judging `Star Anchor Hunt`, a talent show to find young, bright news anchors across the country."
"There is no one-big-bad-Bollywood. To quote a Bollywood movie `My Name Is Khan`, there are good people and bad people, everywhere. People know I`m a team player and I bring a lot to the table when I`m in a project, and that`s what the good people care about."