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Posted at: Dec 21, 2014, 1:29 AM; last updated: Dec 21, 2014, 1:29 AM (IST)

Between the lines

It’s raining books and authors. At the Panchkula Lit Fest, while Fahad Samar talks about Mumbai’s charm, the witty Ketan Bhagat shares why he can never be a great author


Everyone has at least one good story to tell…is what we all believe (or are made to believe), even as the second edition of Panchkula Lit Fest, Get Booked, takes off. Four writers, from four different backgrounds, who initiate the session agree on one point — India is one the largest growing English reading market, third only to the UK and The US, and with publishing made easy, anyone can write and read.
It’s Fahad Samar, the filmmaker, foodie, columnist and novelist, who puts it straight, “There are books, writers and readers, for every Amish Tripathi, there is Amitav Ghosh too. It’s totally your choice on what you decide to read or write.”
Fahad has taken a sabbatical from visual medium to write a trilogy for Harper Collins. The first book Scandal Point, which is a satire on high society of Mumbai became a best-seller; the next, Flash Point, is set in the world of paparazzi, a subject hardly explored. “Glamour rules Mumbai. As stars walk on the red carpet, the photographers clicking them must certainly feel —what do they have that we don’t,” reveals Fahad who actually reversed the whole role. He got celebrity photographer Atul Kasbekar to click real cameramen and is all set to have an event in Mumbai soon, where the top Bollywood celebs will click these very people who, in turn, will walk on the red carpet.
“Mumbai is a strange world. It is one of the biggest cities in the country; there is chaos and traffic snarls. For each success, there are a million failures. And I love to write about it all,” says the author who takes pride in writing for the masses though critics put his works to have a certain sophistication, finesse and literary quality. 
Fahad, happy to be in Chandigarh, where his in-laws are (he is married to actress Simone Singh), wishes Mumbai had such wide, clean roads and greenery like Chandigarh, but doesn’t shy to admit, “Mumbai has this seduction that sucks you in.” 
If you are also wondering what his last book in trilogy is going to be on, he is not ready to spill the beans yet: “Even I don’t know yet. There is a radio contest on to explore the theme. Going by the joke, it’s got to be Nariman Point.”
Speaking aloud
One can love or hate Chetan Bhagat, but if one bumps into his brother Ketan Bhagat, you can’t help but admire his wit! “Well, there are pluses of being a ‘Bhagat’ — parents don’t say, ‘Pagal hai, writer banega?’ Then there are minuses too. People who love Chetan, obviously hate me, and those who hate him, hate me too,” opens Ketan, who shares how girls send him Facebook requests trying to reach out to Chetan and also others who take him to task blaming his brother of ruining English language. “Once my mother got a call with someone asking her how many more sons she has!”
Into a full-time corporate job, Ketan too gave in to the writing bug and his first book Complete/Convenient starts where most stories end. Marrying the sweetheart and a dream job abroad accomplished in the first few pages, the novel tracks what happens next. His next, explores fatherhood. “When your brother is a genius, do whatever you wouldn’t shine! So I enjoyed life, till my son was born. Looking at your child’s face you know what real love is.”
Complete/Convenient is being turned into a movie by Rahul Roy and is tentatively titled Desi Kangaroo. “Aren’t you miffed that they change the name,” a sensitive soul asks… “Ab ladki de hi di, sasural vale naam badal bhi dein to kya,” he reverts. 
Right training
Born in a family of doctors, Rakesh Godhwani decided very early not to take up medicine as a career. “Growing up in Jodhpur, the only other option was to be an engineer,” says Rakesh. He did make an engineer, a bad one, he insists, till he took up what he loved — teaching. Currently with IIM, Bangalore, his first book was Plunnge that talked about what it takes to leave a corporate job and pick up a vocation one loves. Seek: finding your true calling was the next. He is due to launch his third, What to Say and When to Shut Up!, which brings up principles of communication. “There aren’t many training modules available; I believe the books fill a large gap,” says Rakesh, citing how in the Western world self-help books are a big hit.
Heart’s calling
Vish Dhamija brought up on staples of James Ellroy followed his heart, despite his full-time job and pressures of daily life. Based in London for the last 14 years, he craved for more and out came Nothing Lasts Forever, a crime fiction that did brisk business. His next, Bhendi Bazaar, explores the story of a serial-killer. Thriller being his territory, Vish is glad that writers in all genres have readership today.
(The two-day annual fest is being held at the Satluj Public School, Sector 4, Panchkula)


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