Chetan Bhagat, Anvita Bajpai and One Indian Girl: So who's copying whom?

Chetan Bhagat may not have produced remarkable literature, but we do owe him, as a nation, as individuals, as trolls, for bringing out the wit and sarcasm we knew not we possessed.

Niharika Mallimadugula April 29, 2017 16:57:03 IST
Chetan Bhagat, Anvita Bajpai and One Indian Girl: So who's copying whom?

It really must be written in his stars.

Chetan Bhagat is never away from the limelight — controversies, some may call it — and when he’s not in it, there are others pushing him towards. Most recently, an Anvita Bajpai has alleged that he plagiarised her short story, Drawing Parallels, rendering it as a novel — One Indian Girl. It seems at casual glance that Bajpai could well be an enviable apprentice of Mr Bhagat himself. Not only do they bear the same qualifications from the same institutes, their claim to fame rests on crying hoarse over justice denied. Remember how Bhagat sulked that the makers of 3 Idiots did not giving him enough credit?

Although, it may just be crying hoarse in the case of Mr Bhagat. Or is it crying?

Now, plagiarism is a serious charge. One that in many cases is difficult to reliably establish — unless there’s a blatant copy-paste that most of us did through school and college assignments. Bless the teachers who’d not awakened to Wikipedia. Or Google.

Chetan Bhagat Anvita Bajpai and One Indian Girl So whos copying whom

Chetan Bhagat has been accused of plagiarising his novel, One Indian Girl

Forgive me, I digress because the matter at hand seems terribly yawn-inducing. Bajpai accuses Bhagat of lifting the ‘emotional flow’ of her story, and sketching an identical protagonist — ‘a woman, feminist, non-conventional, adventurously deviant especially in matters of relationships with the opposite sex; and she settles down in her third relationship by finding a balance for her family and other aspirations.’

She has carefully drawn out other parallels — which you may read here — calling it an ‘intelligent’ act of plagiarism. Now, that is not an adjective many of the ivory tower intellectuals, or the self-proclaimed ones, would accord to Bhagat. (They’re pretty envious of how easily he makes those bestseller lists, and draws the crowds at literary festivals, and hence vengeance must necessarily be meted out by them assuming a higher cerebral mantle).

Skeletally speaking though, this could be anyone’s story — most of us perhaps have similar ‘emotional flows’ in life, and there’s nothing ‘original’ about the story, either in society or in the repertoire of fiction. In fact, this story should have come a decade earlier, crafted finer. So why are Bhagat and Bajpai battling over a forgettable piece of, pardon me, “literature?” This echoes to that episode of FRIENDS where Chandler and Ross fight over who came up with that “joke,” published in the Playboy incomparably, until Monica intervenes: excuse me, that’s a poor joke. Where is a Monica when we need her?

I decided to investigate, hence, and where better than Facebook to begin? Bajpai’s Facebook bio says ‘I’m awesome.’ This, in my humble opinion, is exactly what Chetan Bhagat feels he is, but a receding hairline and sophisticated PR and have taught him to be cleverer with it. So he rakes up Twitter wars with distasteful statements like ‘The rupee is asking, is there no punishment for my rapists?’ He follows that up with One Indian Girl, feminist therapy for all the women caught in between tradition and modernity. In between that tweet and the book that will have proved his feminist affiliation, he proclaims, ‘I now pronounce myself the thinking woman’s lust object. Those with IQ < 80, plenty of six packs around. Go stare.’

Just step back, and take that all in. Solid PR strategy, huh?

Further, if you’ve read Ms Bajpai’s elaborate allegation in the link above, you’d surmise she doesn’t care much for language, much less for using it right. She also seems pretty affronted by the idea that Chetan Bhagat, fellow alumni (and future competitor?), called her ‘someone.’ But she played cool — as if it was but expected of him. Feels eerily familiar? I’d say she has well learnt to use the master’s tools — the apprenticeship could be certified almost successful.

If you have a twisted mind like I do, and you have a man whose reputation precedes him, then you would — should — go a few steps further in building your case. Since his protege seems well-poised, at least determined, to give him a chase, do you think she is the plan? Did Bhagat plant her to pin him back on the controversy map. Or has she usurped him — finally found a way to leverage her ‘short’ (story) and self by piggybacking on Bhagat’s notoriety?

And you thought this day would never come.

While you take a moment to digest that, let me give you this: Bhagat may not have produced remarkable literature, but we do owe him, as a nation, as individuals, as trolls, for bringing out the wit and sarcasm we knew not we possessed. Let’s be grateful.

The writer's snooty alias claims responsibility for the above stated views.

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