Tag Archives: Chetan Bhagat

Interview with Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”


Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.

 

Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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Book Launch Of “Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce”, By Judy Balan

Book Launch Of Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, By Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to Landmark for the book launch and reading session of Judy Balan’s debut novel – Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, I looked around to see if I could spot her. Amidst the crowd she easily passed off as a kid…alright a teenager! Yes, you read me right. A teenager. A young, chirpy one (and I’m tempted to add bubbly too) at that. Her smile, definitely infectious…and her book – oh! So lovable!!!

 

The session had an equally excited young moderator interacting with Judy. Answering the volley of questions with ease, Judy let us on some fun facts too. “This is more of a parody on Two States: The Story Of My Marriage, by Chetan Bhagat,” she confessed. 

 

“Yes, I’m divorced but this is not my story at all. The story of my divorce would turn out like one of Stephen King’s novels!” she laughed.

 

Taking digs at the typical character traits of some of the South Indian aunties she has come across in real life, Judy spoke about her experience of penning the novel and how things somewhat fell in place within a short frame. “It feels like a Cinderella moment, honestly.”

 

Judy read out about a page or two from her book. And I believe no one spaced out. In fact, I am sure, people who heard her read out the passage must’ve run to get themselves a copy of the book. The staccato writing style, I noticed, is one major factor that brings alive the fun that the auhtor intends to present to her readers.

After the interactive bit, she signed a few copies for the eager audience and of course smiled for the shutterbugs. 

  

Thankfully I had enough time to interview her, which you all will read soon. But for now, let me confess, I had a great time at the launch interacting with this fun spirited cherub. And her book is a must read for everyone!

 

P.S – there is no compulsion in wrapping up the book within two hours, really. Though many have done it.

(*Pic of Judy Balan by Siddhesh Kabe)

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Book Review of “Revolution 2020” by Chetan Bhagat

Revolution 2020

By Chetan Bhagat

I have a mixed view about Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel.

It opens with Mr. Chetan Bhagat visiting GangaTech College in Varanasi for a discourse. He meets Gopal and then we see Gopal pouring his heart out to Chetan Bhagat, under the influence of alcohol and a sad incident.

 

To give a background, this is a love triangle and it also brings out the corruption and facades of the education sector (with coaching classes mushrooming eveywhere, esp. for IIT, JEE and CAT exams).

Gopal belongs to a poor family. His friend Raghav belongs to a middle class family. And Aarti (Gopal’s love) belongs to the affluent section of society. Gopal has to struggle all his life for everything. From making a decent living to taking the exams to claiming his love. Raghav on the other hand stands up to values and fights against the wrong-doings in society. Aarti is a rich girl with her good looks and charming smile and great lifestyle. The three have been friends from childhood. Gopal falls in love with Aarti, while she falls in love with Raghav.

Then comes the “Love, Corruption and Ambition” angle to the story. Gopal wants to prove to Aarti that he is better than Raghav and he designs a plan to seek revenge in his own twisted way. He ends up starting his own college and coaching classes for IIT aspirants and takes the generation under his stride. Raghav is an upright and morally/ethically righteous person who defies everything wrong and corrupt. And we see the fight between the good and the bad.

Quite a bit of the book was clichéd and predictable. The climax was, yes, a bit “feel-good-factor”. The language and the flow of the story is very simple. I would’ve preferred crisper editing. But is it just me or do you also feel that the book read mostly like a movie script.
I even imagined the actors playing the parts while reading this one.
Not something that I would appreciate.

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Keep Reading

A man is known by the company he keeps. And a book is any day good company. It reveals more about your character. It reflects your tastes, your desires, your perspectives, and a bit of the real you.

Books have a deeper impact on your mind and heart. They become a characteristic trait.
Research shows that most of the successful people, read. And read books that broaden their perspective and their knowledge and their thought process. They have more information; learn from other people’s experience; and are better at evaluating and making decisions.
We all know that reading is to mind what exercise is to body. In today’s age of technological and psychological advancement, our minds do need to open up more. And a book is said to communicate with us on deeper levels than any human being can. It speaks to our mind and to our heart. Directly.
A book can make you visit lands that you’ve seen before; peep into the depths of history; learn from the greatest minds; ponder over issues that you never paid heed to before; and bring about thoughts that would address real problems and shape the world around you. The levels of connect could be different, but the purpose is simple. To make you better.

You may be a funny man, and reading the works of Allen Smith, Douglas Adams, etc. help you hone your skills and acquire higher levels of humor. Of late, Kartik Iyengar’s Horn Ok Please has been creating waves. And amongst the experienced ones, Abhijit Bhaduri’s works are highly recommended.

If you possess “creative imagination” you end up reading more of J.K. Rowling, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Roger Zelazny, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, and our very own Samit Basu etc., and you build your own fantasy world, bringing out improvised characters that have a trait of your personality.

If you possess good communication skills; have a knack to sync practicality and emotional thoughts with the ability to lead, works of Yogesh Chabria, Shiv Khera and Deepak Chopra would interest you more and help you develop interpersonal skills to reach your goal as ‘motivational speaker’.
Yogesh stresses that wealth without peace of mind, fun, and happiness is useless. He says that without Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is impossible to get.
Deepak Chopra, an Indian public speaker, and writer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine, began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. One of his main messages is that by ridding oneself of negative emotions and developing intuition by listening to signals from the body, health can be improved.
Shiv Khera, an Indian motivational speaker, author of self-help books, business consultant, activist and politician, came out with his first book in 1998. You Can Win introduced his trademark quote, “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.” The focus of the book was on achieving success through personal growth and positive attitude.

There are stacks and piles of books of literary value – from classics to literature to poetry to modern day “metro reads”; from sci-fi to chick-lit to recipe books; the options are aplenty and the choices varied.

FromShakespeare to Charles Dickens to William Wordsworth to Chetan Bhagat to Ahmed Faiyaz and the whole new generation of writers who do churn out readable material.
So my point is, read what you really like. Your mind retains things that you like and eventually reflects someway in your personality. It makes you a better person. A learned one too.
There was a time when people worried about reading too much. And today, too little.

In this age where our meals are supersized and books abridged, I wonder where exactly we are headed. Any guesses?

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