The Chetan Bhagat-ification of Indian newspapers

Business Standard books’ reviewer Nilanjana S. Roy—and CNN-IBN anchor Sagarika Ghose (who has a column in Hindustan Times)—provide the latest update on the state of Indian newspapers.


  1. It is great that Sans Serif has picked up this issue. It has become fashionable these days for some elitists to criticize Chetan Bhagat.

    Is it because Chetan Bhagat’s books get read by the same “unwashed” middle class masses, whom the elite loves to hate. Perhaps they hate Chetan Bhagat because he does not speak in flawless Harvard accent.

    Perhaps they hate him because his books get sold without getting any positive reviews from the elite reviewers in the country. Chetan Bhagat does not need reviewers, he is capable of communicating directly with his audience.

    The kind of hatred some elites are capable of conjuring towards bestselling authors of pulp, is amazing. They don’t want anyone outside their close knit club to succeed in life.

    By the way, my tastes mostly lie in philosophy, politics, technology, history, etc. Hence I have not read the light-hearted stuff that Mr. Chetan Bhagat is known for.

    Though I have read his articles in Times of India, and I strongly empathise with his strong views. Someday when I have time and some money, I will try to buy his books and read them.

  2. harkol

    Well, I enjoy Chetan’s articles in TOI. They are witty, timely and uncomplicated communication.

    So, what is so wrong with ‘anyone who can write passably’ voicing their opinion, in news analysis? Is there a rule that only a literary genius is qualified to comment on weighty issues? And is there a reason to read ‘newspapers’ for a literary taste? I miss Ms. Ghose’s point.

  3. Don’t understand why mainstream newspapers run after published writers to write ‘columns’. Quite often these ‘columnists’ just fill their columns with trash, because they have to meet ‘deadlines’. The most ‘prolific’ columnist who fills his columns with bilge is Kushwant Singh. But then, he is not alone. Writers who made ‘some’ name agree to write columns but do not have the honesty to say, ‘I am sorry but this week, I do not have anything to say.’ They therefore fill their regular columns with trash and even the biggies among newspapers accept it. To cite a recent example, in her recent ‘column’ in ‘Deccan Chronicle’, Shobha De had nothing better to do than to review an interview of Digvijay Singh by Barkha Dutt on NDTV. To report what Barkha asked and what Digvijay replied would amount to normal journalism and not ‘celebrity columnism’! How then did Shobha supervene it? Oh, come on! It is not so difficult for Shobha who penned ‘so many’ salacious scenes in her novels. She therefore converted a normal interview of a politician by a journalist into a ‘scene’ in a ‘B’ grade Hindi movie! Therefore a lecherous Digvijay flirted with and a coquettish Barkha in the interview. We do not know whether the ageing Digvijay actually flirted with Barkha or whether Barkha actually behaved like a coquette – but that was the gravamen of the column.

  4. Nishant S

    Again with the “everyone loves to hate him” card… Can’t people agree that his writing is just not that good? His books are completely cliched and his characters have no development at all. So predictable is his work, that even an online Chetan Bhagat plot generator does better! If someone can read the Three Mistakes novel and say that is the best novel they’ve read, it clearly shows that they’ve never read any of the classic works of literature. Instead of criticizing the “elitists'” legitimate point of view, why not focus on every newspaper’s zeal to have a slice of “Chetan Pie” to boost readership? And if you notice, many of the Chetan articles in print and online at the TOI contain numerous errors (lack of capital I’s strike me).
    And for all the foot-in-mouth statements; the Coke machine “joke” being the most recent gaffe, people should be dropping this guy like a hot potato. Instead they heap accolades on him despite his poor writing and for supposedly “writing for the common man”.

  5. Vishnu

    Usually, the Sunday newspapers in other countries have lots of features, critical pieces, and investigative reports. It is only in India that the Sunday newspapers are very boring and offers intellectual zilch. Some of the European newspapers run to 100 plus pages and even there are online specials. Just compare a few of these sites with Indian newspaper and TV sites. They are mostly full of politics and Bollywood trash.

    Just ask a question to readers of Indian newspapers: who won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award last year? Or who is the most well-known novelist in France today? You will not get an answer. But ask them about the latest item dance and sex scandal. You will definitely get an answer.

    Jai Ho Indian journalism.

  6. Abeer Ray

    strange, but true. we cannot deny the fact that the quality of indian newspapers are deteriorating day by day. if we compare only the magazine portion of earlier newspapers with the papers of today, we will definitely find more filth and trash in today’s newspapers than what we used to read in magazines five years back. earlier the magazines contained articles about the various sciences, astrological information, vastu shastra, feng shui, nutritional value of various fruits and vegetables, home made remedies, solutions to various problems and discords in marital life, whereas todays’ magazines are filled with information regarding Bollywood, salacious articles regarding Hollywood, pictures of various actresses with their coquettish behaviour and the so called information regarding fashion industry which is like absolute bilge used to fill in the newspaper coloumns.

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