Sorry for this delayed post. As you know, I am on twitter more often now (Chetan_bhagat). However, sometimes 140 characters are not enough to talk about all I want to say. It is November, and 3 weeks since 2 States came out. I thought I’ll share a couple of things that are occupying my mind these days.
1. 2 States response – I am overwhelmed by the response to 2 States. The quantity and quality of responses is at a higher level than any of the previous books. We’ve started displaying some of the fanmails on the homepage of this site (unless the reader chooses the privacy option). And you can see the feedback coming in. The book has touched a chord and connected across the country. To deliver to the expectations after three already successful books is, for me, the biggest achievement. This time the story was simple, in fact the title gives it away. It all came down to execution, and I’m fortunate God was on my side this time. It is still early days, but I can tell this story will travel far and wide and give me a whole new set of readers. The little red book is literally, everywhere.
2. 3 Idiots – I am sure you are as excited as me upon seeing the 3 Idiots promo (see post below). With a stunning star cast and an excellent director, we have all been waiting for it a long time. Just to be clear, 3 Idiots is based on Five Point Someone (and that is the official credit) but the plot is different. There are commonalities, some of which are seen in the promo – the engineering college, the three boys, the triple riding, the Prof on a bicycle and his beautiful daughter (!). The core conflict and the underlying messages about the education system are also similar. However, the film’s plot is quite different and does not follow the novel. That is a decision the filmmakers independently took well after taking the rights of the book. I personally felt the underlying message needs to reach people more than the exact rendition of the book, and hence I was fine with it. The book has been widely read in any case, the original source is there for all to see. I, from my side, am happy that my first story and its big idea inspired the biggest filmmakers in the country. However, it is their film and all accolades should go to them. I hope my explanation sets the expectations right among viewers so they can enjoy the film better.
3. What’s next and the big escape – This is the big question that I am seeking answers to right now. Will it be another book, another screenplay, a new column, more talks around the country, nothing at all? – I have no idea. I do know however, that I need a calm mind to decide all this. Hence, I decided to escape the limelight for a while. Fame and success, while sought after, have the power to disorient you and cloud your judgment. I left India and have come to Hong Kong, a place I am familiar with having spent 11 years here, but also anonymous. I will be here for a while, focusing on looking inside and trying to find out what I really want. A few answers are emerging. Once I have a bit more clarity, I will surely share them with you. I miss India, my family and readers terribly, but this detachment process is important for me.
4. Launches in other cities – because of the need to get away, I postponed the launches in various cities. However, I know I can’t be away from my readers too long, so will be organizing them in the next couple of weeks. The next few ones will be in the South – most likely Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. These will be followed by other cities, details of which I shall post when available.
5. A parting word – I want to end bysharing a small incident. The night before the release of 2 States, I was super tense. I went to the ISKCON temple in Chowpatty and met His Holiness Radhanath Swami, an American gentleman who moved to India several decades ago and devoted his life to serve God. I told him I couldn’t sleep because of the anxiety over the fact that there will be a million judgments on my work, both positive and negative, in the coming days. He told me this:
“Imagine there is a puddle. When it rains, the puddle is filled with water. When it doesn’t, the puddle dries up. Now compare that to the ocean. The ocean is so deep, it doesn’t matter if it rains above or it is dry weather. Your inner depth should be as much as the ocean, so you are not fazed by the external praise or criticism. For that, you must truly do work that is meaningful to you, have love in your heart for others and help people. And when you achieve inner depth, the external world’s rewards won’t matter to you as much.”
I don’t think I am as deep as the ocean yet. But I am trying. Meanwhile, I just felt I will share this with you, so you may apply it in some aspects of your life. Whatever happens outside, it doesn’t matter as much if there is a calm stillness in you.
लोकः समासतः सुखिनो भवन्तु
(may all beings in this world be happy)
Love and Blessings,