Author Chetan Bhagat has quite a repertoire of achievements under his belt; he not only has one but four of his books turned into Bollywood films. His book Five Point Someone۪ inspired the super hit film 3 Idiots۪ (2009) which gained critics’ acclaim and went onto break records at the box office. Karan Johar has also picked up on Bhagat۪s talent and will be releasing 2 States۪ in the upcoming year, inspired by 2 States: The Story of My Marriage۪. For the moment, Bhagat۪s The 3 Mistakes of My Life۪ will be releasing soon as Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che!۪; a story about three friends and their love for cricket. As the film comes close to release, BizAsia was given the opportunity to interview Bhagat to get an understanding of his inspiration and thoughts behind Kai Po Che!۪
How do you feel about Kai Po Che!۪ releasing so soon?
It is good that the movie is coming out soon, only a few weeks to go. It is good to be book writer whose movie is coming out because you just get to have fun without having to do all the work. (laughs)
Kai Po Che!۪ is based on your 2008 novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life۪ and you have other books have inspired filmmakers over the years. What would you say is your inspiration to write?
I am very inspired by India. The whole reason I write is because I am interested in generally in how people think and you can see that through my non-fiction, novels, my various political writings etc. To get people۪s attention, it is a good way to entertain them first. I do entertain them in my stories and in my books, through my movies and things like that so it is a good platform I am getting and film is something that Indians love. That is my inspiration, to reach as young Indians as possible.
How do you decide and cater for your target audience when you are writing a book like The 3 Mistakes of My Life۪?
I do find that everybody is reading my books. Young people are the primary readers so I like to write about issues that affect them. ʉThe 3 Mistakes of My Life۪ is about somebody who opens a cricket shop, three friends who decide to open a shop.
How much input have you had in Kai Po Che!۪ and how do you hope the audience will respond to it?
This time I have done work, I am the co-creator and writer also so this is a film that is very close to my heart. There are no big stars but I am hoping that the audiences take to it in a big way, as big as the stars so we can hopefully say that the audience are willing to look at different stories and current issues.
Did you find it a learning curve for you to co-write a film that is made from your book?
Yes it is. At the beginning it was quite difficult because the screenplay is one fourth the size of a book. You are working with other people who are giving their input and you feel like this is my story, what are you doing? But you get professional about it and this is the third time this is happening, I have seen many adaptations and I۪m not as attached to them anymore. I understand that I have written them but we are not perfect. People can change it around but I want the core message to come across. If the core message comes across, it doesn۪t matter what the cast is or they go for a walk, it doesn۪t matter. This one is quite a good adaptation.
What was your reaction when you learnt ‘The 3 Mistakes of My Life’ was being turned into a movie?
The director called me at 1am at night and he had just finished cutting the trailer and he had requested that I come to the cinema in Mumbai. At 1am, I went and saw it and the story I had taken the time to write was on the big screen and it felt like a dream. At 1am at night, I saw these characters jump out of the screen at me, characters that I had imagined in my head. It was an indescribable feeling and I also felt that the trailer was really good. We have received good responses of the trailer of YouTube and it has now created hype.
There have been quite a few films about male bonding in recent years. What do you think is the appeal for you to write a book about the relationships between men?
I think there has always been an assumption that women are more into relationships or more emotional and have stronger relationships as mothers, daughters or wives. It isn۪t that men are ruthless or emotionless animals! We are tender and have feelings and can have great friendships which are more like love, bromance.
Do you think we will see more films with the theme of bromance in them?
I think so, especially in Indian cinema. In India, dating is still not very common. They show it in every movie but a very small proportion of India actually dates but bromance is very popular. I think there is scope for more movies about bromance.
What do you hope the audience will take away from Kai Po Che!۪?
I think they will take away a touching story about three friends who nurture a Muslim boy. They have a sports shop and they nurture this Muslim boy in a very tumultuous time in Gujarat. It is a very positive message about healing. In India, the communities often hurt each other but there is no healing process. There is nothing which comes in the way of healing relationships.
The two main themes in the film are about cricket and religion. Do you think these are closely intertwined in India?
Yes they are. When I started writing the book, the idea was that cricket has fans and religion has fanatics. Both fans and fanatics come from the same religion, the word fan comes from fanatics. You can get so fanatical about sport and you can get so fanatical about religion. People who are fanatics about religion or about the game can make a fantastic story. That is what Kai Po Che!۪ is, India۪s two biggest passions in one story.
It seems like Bhagat has put a lot of hard work into this film and we at BizAsia wish him and the rest of the Kai Po Che!۪ team the best of luck for the upcoming release. The film will be releasing on 22nd February.