Here’s my take, and I’m someone who HATES Chetan Bhagat due to his political ‘sluttiness’:
Whenever there’s a ‘suave’, ‘sophisticated’ class’ shutting out masses from anything, the best way to open that lock is a refusal to play the game by their rules, and break open the lock by brute force: an uncouth, unskilled, and often unpleasant way, usually dependent on the magnitude of effort than anything else.
And that’s exactly what Chetan Bhagat did!
The cabal of snobbish, aristocratic English speaking, reading and writing ‘intellectuals’, who replaced the British on the echelons of social power, had effectively shut out the common people. They did this by promoting only complicated, intricate English; and not only jeering and mocking those who simplified English, making it intellectually accessible to ‘common man’; but these people- which includes nearly all the yesteryears’ Indian English authors, publishers, journalists etc- also tried their level best to make this simplified English commercially non-viable, thus killing its future.
Chetan Bhagat, for all the not-so-pleasant gimmicks of his, both in the language itself and the marketing, slammed easy English into the face: more into the face of the mentality, than any particular individuals.
He not only wrote easy English novels- to the horror of those who considered reading, and writing in, English an ‘exclusive privilege’ rather than an inclusive universal right. And they couldn’t trash him like others before; since he came from a dual elite group of his own- brands IIT and IIM, certainly ‘upper’ (at least commercially) than St Stephen’s, JNU, or any other snobbish academia!
And therein lays his greatest achievement and contribution: he gave the common man a confidence about English, one which previous writers had consciously made sure that he, the common man, didn’t have!
Chetan Bhagat gave the common man a confidence that he can not only read and enjoy English novels; but write in English as well, without knowing “high-and-might
y” words. He turned, in India, English into a medium to express, from a tool to impress!
Yes, his plots are indeed repetitive, the language most ‘roady’ and political affiliations opportunistic- in both his writings and in person (But, then, MOST of the ‘intellectuals’ are; and Indian authors are in the Frontline among them).
But he’s indeed a pioneer: and whenever somebody would study the development of English reading habits in India, they couldn’t be comprehensive without including his name!
To sum it up, if you are planning to write a book in simple English, and sell it in 6 figures in India, you owe large partial thanks to Chetan Bhagat..