Authors

Chetan Bhagat is not an idiot

Surprise is a small word. It didn’t surprise me when I read about Anvita Bajpai’s accusation of plagiarism and court case against Chetan Bhagat. It SHOCKED me.

You could read about it here: Economic Times Article.

My first instinct was, why didn’t Anvita Bajpai write to the publisher and the author asking them for a possible explanation. And then I rationalised saying maybe she did and they didn’t respond. She went ahead and sued Chetan Bhagat. She claimed that she gave Chetan Bhagat her book for review when the latter had visited Bengaluru for the Bengaluru Lit Fest in 2014. And guess what …Chetan lifted her story and made it the central theme of his latest book, “One Indian Girl”

While I don’t want to go into the case details (you can read about it here : Chetan Vs Anvita Case) I just had a few things to state :

  1. Chetan can be anything but an idiot. He courts controversy, makes statements – stupid ones at times – which get him trolled, but he has never crossed the boundary as far as law is concerned. In his decade and half long writing career, you cannot point a finger at him for any impropriety as far as his writing is concerned. He fiercely guards the space that he has made his own. And surely wouldn’t do anything as idiotic as lift a story from the book of an author who gave him the book for review. That said, everything is unprecedented unless it happens for the first time.
  2. A few examples of similar settings that Ms Bajpai claims have been lifted from her story, could be a plain coincidence. I haven’t read Ms Bajpai’s story, so can’t comment on how similar it is. But basis the case details that are briefly given in the link above, it doesn’t seem to be enough to press plagiarism. But then the court found it enough – atleast for the time being.
  3. Putting a full stop to the sales of physical and/or e-books of One Indian Girl, to my mind is extremely harsh, and unwarranted.
  4. Chetan Bhagat has made his money. If the intent was to push him on the backfoot, this surely hasn’t achieved the results. In this case, the poor publisher is now stuck with the case and possible losses.
  5. Stopping sales of an authors books, exparte… like it has been done in the case of one Indian Girl is a very dangerous precedent to set. We had only heard of it in the world of movies.
  6. I am seriously appalled that the publishing fraternity has not commented on it. Are we an industry of spineless incompetent people who cannot stand up and take sides and atleast comment on what is going on. The apathy towards the publisher and the author (s) in question disappoints me. As an industry we need to voice our thoughts a lot more freely and a lot more a-politically. There are points in time when political correctness needs to be shunned.

I do not know who is wrong or right in this plagiarism saga.  I can only say that if Anvita Bajpai is right, she must get what she deserves and the plagiarisers need to be punished.  However having been a part of this industry for a decade, and seen Chetan’s meteoric rise to fame, I can only say that he has worked hard to get here, and is not the one who is going to give it all up like this. He is not an idiot, and most likely he will come out of this looking even better than before.

My vote for round 1 in this saga clearly goes to Chetan Bhagat. He is not a literary thief. I don’t believe that he would have lifted the story, and I pray that I am right. I just hope it is a misunderstanding, a confusion between two authors and that it gets resolved quickly.

 

(Added later : Apparently she sent CB a legal notice and filed  a case only after he denied all allegations)

11 replies »

  1. True Ravi ! Why would self made authors do this after they have achieved all that they have worked for , it’s easy to put up any allegations and spoils one’s reputation ! I strongly support Chetan Bhagat and love your boldness

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  2. I pray for the same too just so this sacred world of books and writers remains sacred. I have no great liking for Chetan s style though.

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  3. Yes sir. I myself was asked to review the books by Anvita herself. I had read both the books and promptly rejected that there is something that is plagiarized. I found that both the stories were quite a lot different. She is arguing only on the basis of the instances that she has
    mentioned in the book. And I firmly believe that both the books are quite a lot different. If the controversy goes to new level. I will surely blog on this issue.

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  4. I support Chetan Bhagat on this matter and I agree with all what you have said. Its appreciable that a contemporary is supporting his contemporary, when both are two great writers.You have set a good example for other writers and publishers. I believe that this case will get solved in a nick of time. But we must learn something positive from this instance.

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  5. I find it interesting that a lot of people above claim to support Chetan Bhagat, without having read the other book! Shoudnt you atleast read Anvita Bajpai’s book before you support Chetan? I plant to do so before supporting either side. Also, I find it a bit difficult to agree with some of the statements made in the article above. If the book is indeed plagiarized, I think its a big issue. Chetan stands to lose credibility. However, if that’s not the case, the truth will come out and Chetan’s reputation will remain untarnished.

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  6. I’m just copying comments from my FB posts —

    One that I wrote to Ravi –

    Hi Ravi, I see your post was written based on trust than facts; where you also write that – “I pray that I am right” … that is very similar to past president PanIIT-USA writing to me yesterday – “You are my inspiration Anvita.” ….. Yes! we try to live in a trust based world, and it hurts when trust breaks .. Chetan being an alumni author, I also felt hurt seeing it and connecting sequences …..

    Rakesh, I appreciate your comment above – hope you’d recall noticing how stressed I was during Simran’s event in Dec — I had not shared with you, but I was really hurt that day after figuring out facts that I saw and I have claimed …….

    Yes it is unfortunate .. and even I had also never expected it to come to me .. wasn’t prepared for it, but I just couldn’t sleep over it…

    Second that I wrote to Adarsh –

    Hi Adarsh, I saw your post.

    You have written “However, the marriage life does not go really well, thus ends up in extra marital affairs with the third person” — that is NOT factually correct. The extramarital affair is there in second relationship in both stories — but it’s NOT with the third person in my story as your wrote.

    You also wrote – “at the end Aliya decides to move forward in her life” — and that is when she is with third person, that is there in both stories (that you have MISSED writing) — in one of the seven wondered of the world (as you also pointed out).

    Probably a more carful read in needed 🙂

    PS: We have given the list of all similarities and differences to the court as part of our case; and needed details are also shared on my FB posts.

    #OpinionsAreNotFacts

    – Anvita

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    • Hi Anvita… Thanks for reading my blog and commenting on this. I owe you a clarification / explanation just to make sure that you don’t misread my blog. : Yes, you are right to the extent that this is my reading of the controversy. And is led more by emotion. Yes I do believe that Chetan would not have done such a thing. But then as I have also said, everything is unprecedented till it happens for the first time. And ‘Chetan would not have done” is not the same as “Chetan has not done.” At no point in time have I said that you are representing it incorrectly. I have specifically mentioned in my post and I quote that here : “I do not know who is wrong or right in this plagiarism saga. I can only say that if Anvita Bajpai is right, she must get what she deserves and the plagiarisers need to be punished” …. but yes, from what I know of Chetan I would lean towards believing that this is a confusion and am hoping it would be resolved quickly. My other points were more a lament on why the publishing industry is not speaking out on this issue. Whether they speak in your favour or in CB’s favour is not important. This is an unprecedented conflict in the industry today. The key stakeholders apart from the two of you must speak. Rupa hasn’t spoken. Lifi hasn’t. Key publishing stalwarts and industry reps haven’t. They should. And yes I also believe that stopping sales of a book is incorrect. If plagiarism is proven, then you must be compensated without doubt. Stopping sales till charges are proven is a precedent which I believe is dangerous and has industry wide ramifications…and for that I expected key industry stake holders to speak out. Best of luck and may the truth emerge. You deserve to be heard and if your charges are established, then justice must not be denied to you… irrespective of who is on the other side. It is unfortunate that things have come to this stage and I pray that in the interest of the industry this gets resolved quickly. Thanks again.

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