Interview: Chetan Bhagat Reveals Which Bollywood Movie He'd Love to Write a Book On!

Rashmi Daryanani , 04 Mar 2013
Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat is riding high on the success of Kai Po Che, which is the third Bollywood film that has been based on a book of his (in this case, The 3 Mistakes of My Life). Another one of his books, 2 States, has been snapped up by Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala for a film as well, and is due to release later this year. We caught up with the author recently to ask him his thoughts on Kai Po Che, which film he’d like to write into a book (any guesses?) and his thoughts on Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt as the leads for 2 States.
Team MissMalini: Hi Chetan! So four out of five of your books have/will have Bollywood adaptations. How does it feel?

Chetan Bhagat: It feels fantastic. I write to reach as many Indians as possible, and Bollywood has an enormous reach. A lot more people will know my stories and the messages there and that feels great.

Team MM: Since your books make great basis for films, do you ever write something new with the thought that “this could be made into a film”? Or do you ever visualize what a scene would look like on-screen?

CB: Not really. I write what I want to write. For instance, most would say that you cannot make a mainstream film with incidents like Godhra. I wrote what I wanted to write in the book, and they made a movie on it, which became a hit too. Hence, I don’t think I need to tailormake anything for film. If it has to happen, it will.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: According to you, how similar/different is Kai Po Che from The 3 Mistakes of My Life?

CB: I would say it is the most faithful of the 3 film adaptations that have come out. It keeps the essence of the story, characters, setting, plot points and many of the incidents intact. At the same time like any adaptation there are changes/omissions/additions so the film is a separate entity too.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: Authors tend to get quite attached to their stories – do you ever feel like you’re “letting go” of your baby by putting it in someone else’s hands to direct?

CB: Not really, because even with babies one day they do grow up and you have to let go. I am attached of course, but I also know millions have read the book and know what I wanted to say. And for me the film is a chance to improve on the story as now the book is out and we have feedback. For Kai Po Che, we changed whatever didn’t work so well in the book.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: In your opinion, how have Sushant, Amit and Raj Kumar pulled off the characters of Ishaan, Omi, Govind? Are you pleased with the way they’ve portrayed your characters?

CB: I think they have given one of the finest performances in recent times. People were quite stunned to see these newcomers set the screen on fire. I can’t think of my characters as anybody else now.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: The film has been very well-received! How does it feel? Are you happy with the end result?

CB: Yes, the intended end result was to make the message reach millions, without diluting the book too much. And that is what happened. We managed to tell a story about certain disturbing incidents, that needed to be told, in mainstream format. We also managed to get huge collections and make the film a pure hit, so it will satisfy even the most commercial trade person in Bollywood. It is not something that happens everyday here.

Team MM: Your books have been made into movies, but on the flipside, if there is one Bollywood movie you’d like to turn into a book, which one would it be and why?

CB: I’d say The Dirty Picture could be a good book as one could get more into the psyche of Silk Smita. The film was good but has limitations on how much introspection it can allow.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: If you had to name one book that changed you, which one would it be?

CB: Catch-22 I’d say. I found the book really funny yet hard-hitting. In some ways it has inspired my work.

Team MM: What’s next from you?

CB: I am writing the screenplay for Kick, a film starring Salman Khan and produced/directed by Sajid Nadiadwala.

Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat
Team MM: Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about 2 States, the film? Are you looking forward to it and do you think Alia-Arjun make a good pair? Especially since this film is based on your personal story!

CB: I am indeed looking forward to it and have a lot of expectations from it. All my readers loved 2 States and it can make a great film. Yes, the lead pair is looking very good in the film stills I have seen so far.

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