From Best-Sellers to Blockbusters: Chetan Bhagat’s B-Town Journey

Say what you want about him, but there is no denying the fact that Chetan Bhagat is a man of many talents. Hailed by The New York Times as the best-selling English language novelist in Indian history, Bhagat has donned many hats with aplomb over the years – from writer to screenwriter, public speaker and more. Films inspired by and based on his novels have not only set the cash registers ringing at the box office, but have garnered critical acclaim and taken the awards seasons by storm. Well, not all of them, but definitely most of them. The latest in the long line of Chetan Bhagat novels to get a film adaptation is Half Girlfriend, which features Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor in lead roles. As the much-anticipated romantic drama lines up for release in late-May, here is a throwback to the writer’s past Bollywood outings.

Hello (2008)


As far as first impressions go, Hello was about as bad as it could get. The film, which was based on Bhagat’s second novel One Night @ the Call Center, was panned by the critics and the audience alike for its weak direction and poor character development. Much like the characters in the film, the audience too was hoping for a call from the God while stuck in the movie hall – not to peddle platitudes like “believe in yourself”, but to reassure them that the ticket prices will be reimbursed!

3 Idiots (2009)


The hullabaloo surrounding how much of 3 Idiots is based on Bhagat’s debut novel Five Point Someone is still fresh in our minds. But let’s ditch the negativity and admit the fact that the film which became a milestone in Bollywood history and gifted us a bunch of iconic scenes, dialogues and characters wouldn’t have happened without the book which inspired it. By the way, how many of you knew that a Mexican remake, titled 3 Idiotas, hit the theatres very recently? Oh, and that’s not the end of it. Talks are in progress for a Chinese, Italian and Hollywood remake! Now, suppose you’re a studio executive in Hollywood – who’d you cast?

Kai Po Che! (2013)


To many, Kai Po Che! is the film that triggered the phenomenon of ladies swooning over Sushant Singh Rajput’s guileless charms. Well, there’s more to it than the rise of a youth icon. Set in the turbulent Gujarat of early 2000’s, the buddy drama film based on Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life explored the journey of three friends in realising their dream of sports academy and the challenges they face along the way. A perfect mash-up of conventional Bollywood elements and offbeat realism, Kai Po Che! also marked Bhagat’s debut as a screenwriter, and won him a Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay that year.

2 States (2014)


Part autobiography and part fiction, 2 States and its eponymous movie adaptation recounted the trials and tribulations faced by Bhagat and his better half Anusha in convincing their families from vastly different cultures in approving of their marriage. The film resonated with the audience on two levels –  as a vibrant coming of age comedy and a family drama, and was a resounding success on account of some smart writing and feisty performances.

Stray observation: The scorching chemistry between Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt set the bars pretty high on relationship goals, didn’t it?

Half Girlfriend (2017)


The key to Chetan Bhagat’s success as a novelist and a screenwriter is that he has always had an intimate knowledge of the thought process and aspirations of the millennial generation. Half Girlfriend explores the familiar themes of heartbreak and the quest for true love in the era of casual dating and virtual relationships. While the jury is still out on this one, the impressive track record of director Mohit Suri and the dynamic leading pair of Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor should promise a strong opening. Better reserve your seats early for this romantic roller-coaster ride, folks!

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