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All in the family

brunch Updated: Aug 07, 2013 10:19 IST
Navleen Lakhi
Navleen Lakhi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Apart from a common last name and similar-sounding first names, there is a world of difference between brothers Chetan Bhagat and Ketan Bhagat. Yet, their paths seem destined to cross. With the release of his first book, called Complete/Convenient, Ketan, who was in city recently, talked about his brother, his work being published and the transformation that changed everything.

“Born to an army officer and raised in a Punjabi family, I was the youngest spoilt child, as is usually the case with youngest children in Punjabi households. Chetan was the intelligent child of the family who went on to study at IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and later IIM (Indian Institute of Management),” says Ketan, who pursued a course in hotel management from PUSA, Delhi, followed by working in a few hotels. “I later went on to do MBA and landed in New Zealand to work for a company,” he adds.

But, how did writing happen? Ketan says he had never aspired to be a writer. “I was never into reading or writing, nor did I aspire to be a writer. I didn’t welcome the thought of sitting and writing endlessly. Instead, activities such as yoga, scuba diving, bungee jumping, snorkeling and skydiving excited me, which I undertook during my stay in New Zealand,” shares Ketan.

And then, the transformation happened. “Some years ago, there came in my life a period of transformation that I suppose everyone goes through at some or the other point. That is when I decided to leave New Zealand and return to India. So, here I am, with a book that is based on real-life incidents and the transformation of my life,” reveals the first-time author. Calling himself a ‘thorough NRI’, Ketan says he could hardly be termed a hardcore patriot. Nevertheless, he wanted to return to his native land.

Currently serving as a regional sales manager at a multi-national company in Mumbai, Ketan says he wrote the book in the past two and a half years. Was it easy for him, considering his brother is a bestselling writer? “If people think that things would have been easy for me since I had Chetan Bhagat as an elder brother, they are wrong. On the contrary, the publishers who had printed Chetan’s books rejected me, following which I was rejected by 25 other publishers. I used to tell them that Chetan wouldn’t come to promote my book, so publish it only if you think it is deserving,” says Ketan.

But, the fact that the book was released at a time when acclaimed authors such as Khaled Hosseini came out with their works [And the Mountains Echoed], and still managed to sell over 10,000 copies makes Ketan smile.

On criticism that a writer inevitably faces, he says, “Unwanted comparison and criticism comes by default. It’s funny when people call me ‘the Sohail Khan of Indian literature’.”