The Bard of the New Nor­mal

Chetan Bha­gat, writer, on writ­ing like a woman, snobs and be­ing opin­ion­ated

India Today - - LEISURE -

Q: Some folks crit­i­cised your at­tempt at writ­ing in a woman’s voice in One In­dian Girl. Did any­thing hit home? A: Thou­sands of girls have writ­ten to me, ask­ing how I got into an In­dian girl’s mind so well. Even my wife was sur­prised. As far as crit­i­cism is con­cerned, it will al­ways be there, and some of it is valid. I ac­cept that. Q: What does it mean to be a fem­i­nist man? Do you con­sider your­self one? A: I think a fem­i­nist is sim­ply some­one who doesn’t have a gen­der bias when it comes to their views about a per­son’s abil­i­ties, rights or what kind of per­son they should be. I think I am mostly there. Q: Leav­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties aside, are you a lib­eral or a con­ser­va­tive? A: I place a very high value on per­sonal free­dom. I guess that would make me a lib­eral. Eco­nom­i­cally, I be­lieve in cap­i­tal­ism and free mar­kets, so that makes me a con­ser­va­tive. Such slot­ting is for peo­ple who don’t re­alise that life is case-by-case. Q: What do you see as In­dia’s top three big­gest prob­lems? A: We are still an eco­nom­i­cally poor na­tion with lim­ited re­sources. We have an elite that tries to con­trol ev­ery­thing. As a na­tion, we still are re­gres­sive in many of our views. Q: What do you say to the snobs who crit­i­cise your books for be­ing sim­plis­tic or trite? A: I don’t say any­thing to them. They talk about me. Not the other way around. —with Vidhi Malla

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