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Chetan Bhagat: Controversy amid book release

Monday, October 08, 2018

The #MeToo movement has extended its reach to corner author and columnist Chetan Bhagat (‘Five Point Someone’, ‘Two States’) as well. Chetan is in the news, accused of trying to ‘woo’ a female journalist whom he had met a couple of times professionally. Screenshots of a WhatsApp conversation the author had with the woman surfaced on social media showed that the object of his affections was clearly uncomfortable, indicated her disinterest and pointed out that he was married. In his Facebook message posted last Saturday for his followers, Chetan Bhagat said that the conversation was “real” and apologized to the woman as well as his wife Anusha Bhagat. “The screenshots, are of course real, and I am sorry if you felt they were wrong. I hope you will accept my apology... Just in terms of more information, these screenshots are several years old, and I had met the person in question a couple of times. We hit it off really well as a friendship, and as I say in the screenshots, I did feel a strong connection with her. I did find her a good human being, sweet, cute and funny (as I also say in the screenshots),” his Facebook post read. Chetan apologised saying that he may have “misread” the friendliness and “was going through a phase”. He goes on to clarify that there was “nothing physical, no lewd pictures or words that were ever exchanged.” On our part, after having viewed the screenshots, we think that’s coming as clean as anybody could possibly – and given that the online conversation wasn’t lewd or objectionable, it could be labelled as flirtatious behaviour, at worst. And while we do think it’s important for the matter to have been brought up, there’s the feeling — given the author’s immediate clarification and genuine apology — that nothing incriminating may come out of it. Incidentally, Chetan has his next book, ‘The Girl in Room 105’ releasing tomorrow and the book is being touted as a thriller about obsessive love and finding purpose in life set against the backdrop of contemporary India. Whether the current controversy will help or hinder sales of his work, we suppose, only time will tell.

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