Having closely followed the recent controversy over ‘One Indian Girl’, a book by Chetan Bhagat, I thought let me pen down my take on the whole issue. Anvita Bajpai, a Bangalore based author has sued Chetan of lifting the, “characters, places and emotional flow” from her story “Drawing Parallels.” The latter claims that she had given the book, ‘Life, Odds and Ends’ which contains the story, ‘Drawing Parallels’ to Chetan Bhagat to review, while he came to BLF in 2014. Anvita said in her Facebook post, “I filed an original suit seeking permanent injunction restraining Chetan Bhagat and the publisher from selling One Indian Girl and also sought damages worth Rs 1 lakh.” The court granted temporary injunction on the sale of the book till the next hearing.
One fine afternoon, I received a message from Anvita asking if I could review both the books, “One Indian Girl” and “Life, Odds and Ends.” I agreed to it, upon which she sent the copies of both the books. However, later promptly rejected that both the books were similar. I am no Chetan Fan. Both the stories to me had different takes on society, aspect of life and also setting were quite a lot different. If I were to talk about the jist of both the stories:
One Indian Girl: A plain story of a girl named Radhika, who works in Distressed Debt group of Goldman Sachs. The storyline is set in Goa, where the girl recollects her life before her wedding. While staying in New York, she lives in relation with Debu, and later realize that he was insecure of his own life. And also that all that he spoke about feminism was merely in no practice, when it came to his own life.
After her breakup, she moves to Hong Kong, where she is alleged in relation with Neel, who was two decade elder to her and also had two kids. He believed that Radhika was not a girl for marriage. However, Radhika herself wanted to marry Neel, but he wasn’t ready for it. Thus, she moves to London and later decides to marry Brijesh, a software engineer at Facebook. However, on the eve of her wedding, she receives call from both of her exes to marry her. And she ends up not marrying anyone. And decides to travel round the world to rediscover herself.
Drawing Parallels: While the short story is about a girl named Aliya, who is trying to adjust with her family. She recalls her first love Mark, at Oxford. And later she moves to IIT Madras, where she falls in love with her senior, Shekhar and ends up marrying him. However, the marriage life does not go really well, thus ends up in extra marital affairs with the third person. In fact, the protagonist is portrayed to be really good, thus questioning why does she involve with three men? However, at the end Aliya decides to move forward in her life.
In the story ‘Drawing Parallels’, there is direct reference to Krishna. And Anvita believes that Chetan, with the use of Radhika, has made direct analogy to Krishna. However, there is always a character of Krishna in all his published books. Some of them are, Govind Patel, Hari, Shyam, Krish, Gopal which are synonyms of Lord Krishna. In one the interviews he said, “I am a devotee of Lord Krishna and want to portray a part of Him in my characters. He is the universal lover and I want to talk about love in my books. My characters are playful, naughty, and mischievous like him.”
Both the stories interestingly contain relationship with three men. One being lover, other husband, and third extra marital in the story of Anvita. And in Chetan Bhagat’s one being lover, other being lover too, and last one would be husband. In One Indian Girl, the girl never gets married, even after being involved with two men. However, in Anvita’s story the girl is married to Shekar after she losing Mark and then relation with Shekhar go bad after marriage.
Both the stories end at one of the seven wonders, she says. While the story “Drawing Parallel” ends in Taj Mahal. The story of Chetan ends at Menlo Park, where she meets Brijesh and yet there is no denying that there is mention of a seven wonders too. The accusation of Chetan’s character referring to her inner mind (mini-me) seems quite a bit harsh on the author. The story itself is written in first-person point of view in Chetan’s novel. While Anvita’s story is quite a lot narrative and is written from third person perspective.
Many of her arguments seemed to me very circumstantial. If Chetan had read a book, then these might just be purely co-incidental. Once we read something, we usually try to involve the same in our lives. And moreover ideas cannot be patented, and it does not become plagiarized. If it were not so, then there would be no Flipkart, nor would there be Ola Cabs. If Uber had patented that idea of taking customers from one place to another is ours. When Bahubali movie was said to have been Indianized Game of Thrones, to which once Rajamouli quoted Pablo Picaso, “Art itself is a copy.” We always tend to involve what we read, see in our lives and also in our professions. Moreover, Chetan’s track record does not in any way support the accusation made by the Bangalore based Author.
Well, having said that, I am no expert in judicial matters and hope the justice is prevailed. And we have complete faith in judicial system, and I believe it is the right place for anyone to approach, when such incidences occur. What Anvita did is truly commendable, she might have her own arguments in support of accusation. And that’s probably why the book had been temporary injunction until further hearing.
PS: All the opinions are purely personal. And are not endorsed by anyone.