Chetan Bhagat’s books have always presented both his facets — storyteller and motivator — clearly in his breezy reads. Whether it’s his bestseller-blockbuster 2 States, or Five Point Someone, or The 3 Mistakes of My Life, they all motivate through one character or the other, through one situation or the other. And if as an author he has reached millions with his books, as a motivational speaker he has done brilliantly too, often picking up the microphone and pushing people to do better for themselves.
It’s this same zeal for touching people’s lives and infusing positivity into them that egged Bhagat to venture into podcasts. With Audible’s Deeptalk with Chetan Bhagat, the author engages in deep conversation with his guests and takes the audience through their successful journey. So far, his guests have been headliner entrepreneurs, and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri of The Kashmir Files. Bhagat spoke with The Telegraph about his new venture. Excerpts.
You have been a motivational speaker for a long time. Tell us what is it that got you on board Deeptalk with Chetan Bhagat?
It is an extension of my work as a motivator really. I felt I can only teach people so much about improving and leading better lives. It is time I brought others in. Deeptalk with Chetan Bhagat on Audible is me talking to the real stars of India today, who are running unicorns, creating amazing content, living life on their own terms.... There’s a lot to learn from them and it is inspiring too.
Given that your books in a way try to address a problem and motivate the reader, do you consider yourself a motivational speaker first and storyteller later? Or is it vice versa?
I think it is intertwined. I am a storyteller and the purpose of the story is to inspire people — to never give up, to believe in yourself, to keep trying.... I think it is nice when what you are doing has more purpose than pure entertainment.
Is this format more challenging compared to speaking live in front of an audience?
Podcasts are difficult because you only have the two voices of the people talking to keep the audience engaged. You have to be interesting, and you have to make the guest interesting, while letting the guest do most of the talking. The right question, the right nudge, the comfort you create for the guest — it’s quite a skill to do that effortlessly.
A couple of episodes have already been recorded and we see a mix of guests — entrepreneur to filmmaker. How has the experience been so far?
The experience has been fantastic. In the first few episodes of Deeptalk on Audible I was nervous, inviting such big people, billionaires literally, and making them give several hours for my show. What if I mess up? However, I have really let go now and started to enjoy myself. I think talking to people is so underrated. It can bring so much happiness.
Out of all the episodes so far, which one did you enjoy the most?
Can’t pick from my guests. I have loved them all, learnt different things from each and made friends with every single guest. Can’t pick, really.
What is it that motivates you?
The idea that life is finite and I have been especially blessed in this life to get so much. I want to make the most of it and offer the most of myself to others. I also want to be the happiest person on earth, which I think I might be most of the time.
Do you have a person or thing you turn to for motivation?
I have some friends who I just can’t do without. I talk to people, read motivational articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts — we all need to prep ourselves back from lows sometimes.
When was it in life that you realised that you could motivate people?
Good question. After delivering around a hundred motivation talks. People used to invite me, and I used to think this is all a bit of a gimmick and I am being called for my celebrity. However, after a hundred talks and lots of people telling me I helped them change their life, I felt maybe I have something to offer here. Maybe I don’t judge, come from a simple background, have empathy as an author and am able to articulate things easily — all that helps.
Does your read-list have or had motivational speaker’s books?
Yes, a lot of them. They don’t have to be motivational books, but any book that makes you think or change how you live for the better. Atomic Habits for instance, is not a motivational book, but it helps you develop better habits.
Tell us what is happening on the writing front?
I have written a show, which is being adapted as a wonderful audio-drama for Audible. Will share more details soon.
Any new film adaptations coming up?
We are working to adapt One Indian Girl with Sony Pictures.