Before dissing Chetan Bhagat and raising eyebrows at how he could possibly write a letter as an Indian Muslim Youth, people should realise that the literary device of writing in the voice of someone who isn’t you has been employed by the bravest and the most talented of writers.
Did you know Virginia Woolf wrote Flush in the voice of her cocker spaniel? Mohsin Hamid wrote about and as a reluctant fundamentalist. Why should Bhagat, who must have sold more books than both Hamid and Woolf put together, not follow in their footsteps? Why should he not speak for those who are not heard?
Inspired by the Underage Optimist Bhagat, I’ve had the temerity to attempt a double whammy: channel Bhagat channelling personas who have been misunderstood and ignored.
Letter from a Bengali Hindu pilgrim left behind by Modi in Uttarakhand
I am the voice of the strong Bengali male. That in itself is a fiction, which once again shows my writing prowess and creativity. I am still unsure whether I am speaking in third person or first person. But is that any reason Mr Modi to refuse me a seat in your Innova while saving those Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand?
I understand I was low on your list of preferences because I do not like thepla and fafda and have remained married to my bou (you are a lucky man that you were not born in Calcutta, Mr Modi Sir. Here even the child brides are opinionated and will read you the riot-act before being cast off). But I, the Bengali man, more intellectual and ineffectual than any other, deserved to be saved. Yet, as a result of being shunned from the Modi List Of Chosen Evacuees, you have inspired me to write a sequel to my very popular book which has sold millions of copies and is now being made into a film, Two States. Since I know that you are fond of headgear – not the “muslim cap” of course – I had even worn my Bengali cap while hailing down your Innova. But you whizzed past me, Sir. Not that I hold a grudge. Please remember: just about….200 days to 2 States - the movie, 300 days to the movie Kick, 400 days to book 6. Ok, so I like numbers. 15,000 and 1. Now that would have been a good number.
Just about….200 days to 2 States - the movie, 300 days to the movie Kick, 400 days to book 6. Ok, so I like numbers.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) June 25, 2013
Letter from a midget
Dear caretakers of Indian midgets (includes the Organisation for Perpendicular Integration Of Dwarfs and generally anybody these days). You are probably wondering who I am. After all, I don't have a name like Lilliput or Tyrion Lannister or Air India Maharaja, anything that will clearly establish me as a midget. You forget, this writer also writes fiction. As might have been obvious from my books and columns, this is asking for a massive exercise in the willing suspension of disbelief. But indulge me if you will.
Everyone seems to care for midgets, but no one actually wants to listen to us, particularly the tall youth. I keep hearing political leaders promising to uplift us. I don't know how they plan to uplift us and only us, without uplifting the nation. But then, I am a nobody, what do I know? I see them stand outside restaurants pretending to be us, wearing gnome caps, perhaps to show us that they really do mean to improve our lives. However, a cap on your head doesn't change anybody's life. Using what's inside your head might. I understand getting into college might be difficult. I say, F the cut-offs. People who ruled the world didn't do it with a marksheet. Stand tall and make us the perpendicularly-challenged taller as well.
F the cut-offs. People who ruled the world didn't do it with a marksheet.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) June 27, 2013
Letter from a Rat-catcher in Mumbai
People who miss mornings live a little less than others. As a rat-catcher in Mumbai, which I’m really not, but that should hardly be a hindrance to me writing yet another incoherent column in TOI, here I am telling you that mornings are extremely important for me. So much so, that I often skip catching rats the night before, because I simply do not want to go to sleep late. My kids go to school, and my wife goes to work, so I come back from catching rats early to see them off.
Now, while I’ve never seen a rat-catcher or was even aware of their existence till I saw my erstwhile friend’s wife’s film Dhobi Ghat, I do have an opinion on them. While having tea with my wife by the window in our living room. While being calm and my mind being blank – which isn’t always restricted to the morning – I look down from my ivory tower and wonder what the rat-catcher must have gone through. While wondering this, I remember walking through Mumbai’s dirty lanes catching rats.
See what I did there – third to first person. Now that is clever writing.
Letter from an Item Girl
I write to you as an item girl in Bollywood. While I am neither a woman nor do I know how to dance, although I do feature in shaadi.com ads in which other people dance, I am the voice of the item girl. And I deserve to be recognised by you and people other than Rahul Mahajan and Salman Khan. Is it not right that I who dance better than Katrina Kaif deserves equal wages and food from the Khan household? Why must I carry on sleeping with ageing balding superstars who wear wigs? How can this help my career?
Maybe I am being too harsh, and some of you are indeed well intentioned. But realise the consequences every time you slot us by our status in the film industry. There is more to us than that. If you truly want to help, there is one area where you could. We have a wonderful profession. However, like any profession, the interpretation of it can be orthodox or liberal. In many parts of the world, there's an extremely strict interpretation of dancers in daily life. India is more liberal, and many of us dancers would prefer to keep it this way. Can you support us in that? Don't let choreographers, casting directors, lecherous actors, extreme voices and fundamentalists control our lives, for that isn't the essence of Bollywood. If you can do that, we will back you. You will truly be our representatives if you promote real progress - through empowerment and modernisation of our dancing community. The item girl has evolved. It is time you do too.
Letter from an author
I write to you as an author. Uhhh…