1 Sept 2013

Book Review - 'Beaten by Bhagath' by S.V. Divaakar

You are admired for your writing skills. In fact, people tell you that you’re capable of doing better than the most commercially successful Indian author, Ketan Bhagath. They say – no, insist – that you must write a novel and compete with him. Excited and bullish, you take up the challenge! What happens next?

I knew I HAD to lay my hands on this book when I read the gist. So when S.V. Divaakar’s ‘Beaten by Bhagath!’ was delivered, all other books I was reading took their places back on the shelf.

This 190 pager makes for a breezy and interesting read; one that can be completed in a 3-hour stretch. It sheds light on the trials and tribulations a new author goes through. New here means an unknown author who is trying to get his book(s) published and sold. How an author treats his book like his child, how the market treats it like just a commodity, how the author readily shells out cartloads of money to try anything for more people to read his book, how people take advantage of this vulnerability and fleece him...

The book has another main character apart from the fictitious author – Ketan Bhagath. This character bears a huge resemblance to Chetan Bhagat. When one reads the first chapter, she may feel that the Divaakar is taking pot shots at Chetan Bhagat. But, contrary to initial impressions, this book actually shows him in positive light. Like a lot of readers, I’ve am not fond of CB’s books. I’ve wondered how he writes intellectual columns for Times of India while his novels are commercial with weak storylines. Maybe the man is pragmatic enough to know how to cater to the masses while displaying his real side to the knowledgeable audience. Henceforth, I am going to see him with a different mind frame.

Beaten by Bhagath - Book Review
'Beaten by Bhagath' is peppered with too many analogies. The jackal and the lioness, the worth of an elephant after its death, the premature baby in the respirator, the ‘Emperor’s Clothes’... I prefer getting straight to the point. But then again, maybe it’s just me. And S.V. Divaakar knows what he’s doing. That’s why he’s an author while I’m just another blogger. Also, he could’ve done without explaining analogies like ‘The Emperor’s Clothes’. We know the story; we have read it. Explaining an analogy in detail sort of dilutes the fun. Most authors don’t explain the Achilles heel, the Pythagorean Cup and other terms. Also, Divaakar seemed apologetic about the part I liked best – the explanation of how e-commerce websites are bleeding bookstores. There were touches of Aravind Adiga to it. And I loved it. But the disclaimer at the end makes a reader feel that it’s boring, even if they’ve enjoyed it.

On the whole, the book makes for a pleasant read. It feels fresh, fast paced and humorous. The way authors’ and Bollywood actors’ names have been changed without making attempts to conceal their true identities, tiny errors made by people leaving the writer clawing at his hair, the blunders he commits throwing caution to the wind... While the book makes you smile, it also exposes the plight of budding authors. 'Beaten by Bhagath' has elements of Chetan Bhagat’s and Aravind Adiga’s writing styles. This book is recommended for everyone, whether she likes to read or not. Even voracious readers can use this book as a good break in between their Amitav Ghosh, Gurcharan Das, Malcolm Gladwell and Devdutt Patnaik books. At less than 100 bucks, it’s quite affordable too.

My biggest take away from this book is the shift in mindset towards Chetan Bhagat. I wish ‘Beaten by Bhagath’ ‘s author S.V. Divaakar all the best. The book was enjoyable and I really hope it does well.


  1. Seems to be an interesting book Vishal. Recently I read a similar book called "The Paperback Badshah". Even that book had a fictitious character similar to a certain popular Bhagat with commercial success.

    1. Looks like a lot of new authors are picking on the 'Certain Bhagath'.


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