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One for the friends

Think of IIT, think of boring professors, constantly labouring students. Well, Chetan Bhagat, the author of "Five Point Someone" does not think so. SANJAY AUSTA speaks to the man who believes friendship and love are possible even in IIT.



Chetan Bhagat in New Delhi. Photo: R.V. Moorthy.

LIKE ALL IIT alumni, Chetan Bhagat believes that the best years of his life were spent in the rarefied environs of the IIT. However the IIT students portrayed in his debut book, "Five Point

Someone - What not to do at IIT" have a pretty miserable time in the engineering college. They find the IIT's academic and disciplinary system so repressive they just want the four years of college to finish quickly. "Five Point Someone" is however a work of fiction and Bhagat denies that the book is a critique of the IITs. There are however two suicide bids, the first because a student failed to get into the IIT and couldn't cope with his father's pressure, the other because an IITian is grounded for one semester.

The book shows how the pressure to excel rubs the IIT students the wrong way and how the professors narrow-mindedly emphasise academics to the exclusion of everything else. He explores the cut and dry atmosphere in the IITs where friendship and love are expendable in the rat race for good grades and a great career.

Bhagat, who graduated from IIT Delhi is 1995, agrees that it all happens at the IITs but he has dramatised the events to make them more appealing to the reader. "The cardinal rule is not to bore the reader. They want to be entertained and it is my duty as a writer to entertain them," he says. Just so, the book has dollops of humour and a conversation style that draws the reader in.

The book also has some message for the hard-boiled professors to take themselves less seriously and not have a bias against students who score less. "I personally knew students like Ryan who are very creative but get ignored because they have low grades. This happens in real life and that is what I depicted in my book," he says.

The book is autobiographical and Bhagat reveals that he was somewhat like Hari-the fat and bumbling student in his book. "I was 15 kilos overweight at the IIT and believe me the way you look affects one's confidence a lot," he says. Bhagat is however quick to add he was not a `five-pointer' (a low grade student) like Hari and scored a decent grade at IIT.

But Bhagat says the main message of his book is that any place becomes great if there are feelings associated with it. "The usual feelings associated with the IITs is one that of awe. I have wanted to show that feelings like friendship and love can also exist in the IITs."

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