Friday, 10 May 2013

Oh Chetan Bhagat! Read what you write.





Don’t get me wrong. I do like you, Chetan Bhagat. Not just your peppered hair kept neatly trimmed, features that make your age seem a guessing game and all your book cover designs. I haven’t read any, though. I was going to when you spake thus in an interview: ‘Shakespeare was the Ekta Kapoor of his times.’ And then I did not pick my copy of your many best-sellers. I will, after I get that indigestible comparison out of my head, as well as what follows here.

I love Facebook, and I can see you do too. But your love affair with it is far more supreme than mine can ever be, for you, dear Chetan, are the Giver while me just a humble receiver. You write advice, in a scientific point-to-point format on topics galore, and then make posters of them to be liked and shared. And you give advice to women, mostly, which is nothing new in Indian society if you ask me. I collected enough evidence, and then enough courage to write this – a point-by-point critique of what you do in your hardly free time.
       
Ladies first!

Here’s a part of you trying to “attempt the unthinkable” in your own words, and advising us women, followed by what I think:

1. You once said: “Don’t get competitive with other women. Desire to judge other women needs to end. Why be so hard on each other? Can you let each other breathe?” And in another piece you wrote – “Don’t ever think you are without power. Give it back to that mother-in-law. She doesn’t like you? That’s her problem.” Your self-contradiction aside, while I agree with the first part, the second stems from a complete lack of experience of wearing a daughter-in-law’s shoes. Asking us to give it back to our mothers-in-law is asking us to not just judge rather harshly, but also reject after the judgement is sealed. Rather misleading advice for a society where every home lives in a context and by rules which just might be too complex to brush off with a guerilla out-fit and a rebel’s hat one fine day. This behaviour being more fuel for the fire of the “drama of relationships” you want our kind to exit, any further advice for those who may have got inspired?

2. Then, one day – “The faking needs to end. A common female trait is the relatively quick adaptation to feed male egos. What's the point of collectively harping on equality, when as individuals you are happy to lapse into being clueless eye flutterers, just to keep men happy?” My husband will envy you your female company. They seem to know how to keep you feeling happy. However, most women reading this advice are perhaps doing no such thing – no faking, no fluttering and certainly not without a clue. Don’t call it a ‘common’ trait (we’re not so easy to shoe-box!). Call it an assumption and what a man perhaps likes to believe? What’s next, that we wax our legs and pluck our eyebrows for you? Breaking news – we don’t! And to let you in on a secret, clueless I’m certainly not about my wish-list that’s to follow when I’ll flutter my eyes today as soon as my husband comes home from work. 

3. You say – “Do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work. It is difficult but not impossible.” I agree! Especially since you have a solution for that stress too – “If your boss doesn’t value you, tell him that, or quit.” And “next time your husband tells you you are not a good enough wife, mother, daughter-in-law, you can tell him to take a hike.” There, stress busted. It’s a different matter that these are not resolutions to deeper problems inhabiting our social and professional mindsets but something we said and did when we were 14, or maybe 4.

And now for the men, and how they should “revise their ideal woman criteria”:

(i)        “Having a traditional wife who cooks, cleans and is submissive might be nice. However, choosing a capable, independent and career-oriented woman can also bring enormous benefits.” You haven’t met a capable wife who is traditional, cooks, is independent, career-oriented, cleans and is not necessarily submissive just because she does cooking and cleaning? Come and meet me! Also, these are not antonyms. Why use them as two opposed types of personalities?

(ii)          The “benefits” of a working woman (you make this sound like a business deal!) vis-à-vis a housewife include “relating better to organizational issues”, “help afford a decent house” and help a man “discuss his own career with”. Very capitalist and incorrect. Also, the house is an organization the running of which not many can manage. Try it!

(iii)                “A working woman is better exposed to the world, and brings back information that can be useful to the family.” Watch some TV. Adverts on new holidays and good mutual funds to invest in are running as you read this. Staying at home doesn’t mean staying uninformed or naive. And “quality of life” is often independent of which mutual fund is least subject to market risks.

(iv)     “Children of working women learn to be more independent and will do better than mollycoddled children.” Any examples/research to support this, please? Mr. Google is proving to be of no help, at all. 

(v)              “Sure, there are drawbacks also in being with working woman. But the modern age we live in, the phulka-making bride may come at a cost of missing other qualities.” Drawbacks like? Also, a bride who likes cooking more than careering may not lack in any important qualities. Maybe looking up your ancestral family tree will help change your mind?

I do agree with you on one thing – “Yes, we men have to learn. However, the stubborn, fragile and pampered Indian male ego is a tough nut to crack. Collectively, we as Indian men, have a long way to go before our women can be proud of us.” You are absolutely right. And I wonder what makes me say so!
And now that we have ended on a note of agreement, may I be sent one of those Motivational Frames your team is selling? (Why do I feel your team is all men?) My mollycoddled son would love them! But that aside – I need motivation. You see, I’m the person you asked to quit her bad boss’s bad job since I’m one of the “talented hard-working people who are much in demand”. So, when do I report for work?


[Printed in Democratic World magazine] 

81 comments:

  1. Somebody needs to put a sock on his mouth! This is by far the most virulent form of 'foot in the mouth' that I've ever come across.

    I cant choose which one maddens me the most! Perhaps the second advise to women. That one is enough to make me do something drastic to him!

    The silly ass!

    Dagny

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    1. The second maddens me most too, Dagny. How about doing something drastic to him together, shall we? Silly ass, indeed! :)

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    2. Loved it, Sakshi, he needs to be kicked wherever it hurts him most and then some more. Wonder why all these new age writers think they have the solution to all the problems of the world. Some of them are so sanctimonious that you feel like throwing up on their faces!!

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    3. Rightly said, Bindu. It's the trend of becoming a 'guru' over-night, just because you have authored a book. Makes no sense why women shared-re-shared such problematic articles penned by him. Goes to show a lot about the women who have raised him to Godhead too. Thanks for reading! :)

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  2. Sakshi..this is such a fantastic piece of writing. I really wonder why Chetan Bhagat is so famous and who gave him the job to motivate and tell women what is right for them.

    Bah to him....

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    1. Bah to his blah blah, indeed! Thanks for reading and not being lazy, Lazy Pineapple! :D

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  3. Ha Ha Ha! A very good one! :) I did try reading his books and was appalled when I came across the usage of "Xerox" instead of "Photocopy" by a so called acclaimed author! Stopped reading anything he wrote since then.
    When someone tells me they are a Chetan Bhagat fan it makes me squirm and wonder how on earth did I get to know these people!

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    1. Thanks, Seeta. Also, if you could gather what's amiss in 'Xerox' being used, then I am SO happy to connect with you. We do not find too many like you around any more. :) I have never read his books, just the irresponsible gyan he showers through his articles. I never read him because he called Shakespeare the Ekta Kapoor of his times. :)

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  4. :) I had not come across the Ekta Kapoor quote before reading your post... just made me pat myself on the back for having stopped reading anything that he posts :P.. And Yes I so get the Xerox thing.. glad to connect! :)

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  5. Sigh. He gets me exasperated and wild. I am told when I critique his writing that I am pouncing on him cause this advice came from a man. Hardly. And you have explained it well. But attempting to break sterotypes, his highness either creates new problems or feeds into larger stereotypes (especially this one on housewives being submissive got me wild!)

    Wel written :D

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    1. So true. Usually, he contradicts himself 5 times in 5 lines, give or take a few lines. :) Thanks for reading, Srinidhi. :)

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  6. Never I would have realised this side of his writing...if I hadn't read this article Sakshi.....

    Its like a defamation of Women... Effective and Nailing article...Being a Woman, I got wild out of his statements..and being a triple-degree, housewife, I felt WOMEN are humiliated...

    You are a REAL WRITER dear...

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    1. Love your 'triple-degree', thescribbler. :D
      Thank you for reading. :)

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    2. hey sakshi...I meant that triple-degree holder.. I missed 'holder'.. he he.. ;)

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  7. Nice post! this Chetan bhagat..sigh..what on earth would it take to make him quit writing??

    :P

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    1. Haha! Certainly more than this post, and others such, Ankita. :D
      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Give him more Nach Baliye shows. Like the show he too is TOO MUCH! That way we get two birds by one sling. :)

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  8. hehe! yup :)

    you are blog rolled!

    Pleasure is all mine Sakshi!

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  9. What a relief! For a moment I thought you were going to praise him! :)

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    1. :D Laxmi, I may not know my apples from my bananas but I do know my Chetan Bhagat. :D
      Err, did I just call him 'my'? :P

      Delete
  10. I always wondered how Chetan Bhagat was qualified to inspire: shouldn't we be taking inspiration from people who have made an actual difference in lives of women... I mean, apart from providing for a good book in the loo or a parlour read?
    I am glad you set him straight

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    1. He self-appointed himself as our guru, and we said Hurrah to it. That's how New Age Gurus are born and bred. :D Saisudha, thank you for stopping by!

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  11. I think we hand out qualifications/our willingness to be guided too easily. His articles are proof of that. :)
    Thanks, Saisudha.

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  12. I must admit I've read maybe three books by Chetan Bhagat. Much like a masala movie in my opinion. Haven't bothered after that. Anyway, these contradictory statements made by him make me dislike him even more! An eye opening article indeed.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Midnight. What's worse? TOI publishes these. I really wonder - How come?

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    2. Yes its true. Its more of commercialized anyway.
      when people say I love to read Chetan Bhagat I mentally cringe! yikes!

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  13. I like CB, just because of Sirji, i read/write English story/articles. Critics is ok as we know no one is perfect but yes he is better than most of new age Indian English writers...

    CB give me more than 5 point someone.. :)

    Krishna Bless Us.

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  14. Thanks for a woman's perspective to Mr. Bhagat's unsolicited sermons. I believe, he is far off the mark whatever he chose to write about women, but then he is far off the mark on everything that he likes to write about.

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    1. Ha ha. Your comment makes me laugh. :D
      Well put!

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  15. Very well written sakshi! imagine the gall of the fellow. One expected a lot more class from a best selling author! Sigh! Wisdom is a rare commodity.

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    1. Wisdom is rare, so are discerning readers. Thank you for reading.

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  16. Very well written sakshi! imagine the gall of the fellow. One expected a lot more class from a best selling author! Sigh! Wisdom is a rare commodity.

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    1. Thank you. :)
      Where is the connection between class and best-selling? :)
      Also, what do you mean Wisdom? :)

      Delete
  17. Very well written sakshi! imagine the gall of the fellow. One expected a lot more class from a best selling author! Sigh! Wisdom is a rare commodity.

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  18. I used to "like" like him untill he published that article about Working women vs house wives. I guess it was a turn off for most women, specially working "category" since they were being called un-homely and non-traditional. He needs a grip on his words.

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    1. He needs a grip on his guru-isms.
      Thanks for reading, Nupur.

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  19. Ha ha ..I think this is my first time in your blog...Had a good laugh reading this post... I have not read or bothered about what Chetan Bhagat had to say after 2 states...I liked that book, but decided to boycott his books because of the string of so called IIM_passouts authors he is responsible for bringing forth :P

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    1. I love your reasons for boycotting CB. I agree with you. He made IIM-ers authors over-night. And we know, and their books tell us too, how that is an impossibility. :D
      Thank you for stopping by, Elizabeth.

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  20. you fail to disappoint me.. I so strongly resonate your words.. this post makes me happy because so far i had no specific reason except my gut feeling to blame for my abhor for CB.. now, I've factttttssss.. i love it when i am "Right" coz you write right :P :D.. i know it is gramatically erroneous.. the last leg, but i love humor and i suck at it :D :D

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    1. :D I liked the right write right bit. And also that you agree. :D

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  21. I have read his books but never but never found them to be great. All have been written only to be made in to bollywood movies. Not exactly 'literature'. I wonder what historians 100 years later will think of this generation if they get a hold of any one of his books(hope they don't ;) ).

    I do hope they find this blog. Very well written. Someone needs to show him this post. And I agree with Elizabeth, the number of IITian and IIMian writers is increasing too damn fast. Cheerio. :)

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    1. Not Literature at all. A very interesting thought, Bestvish, about the historians. I wonder with you now.
      Thanks a lot for stopping by.

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  22. I have read only half of one of his books and that was enough to keep me away from him completely. and now that I know he called Shakespeare the Ekta Kapoor of his times...god lord Im speechless. loved your piece Sakshi.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Kanchana. I had said the exact same 'Good lord!' when I heard that too. Except, they had to call the doctors in to help me stop saying it, and get out of the shock. :D

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  23. Dear Sakshi....randomly chose this post to read and liked it because personally I am also not a fan of Chetan Bhagat. But it is amazing how you made a post out of your arguments and opinions! Wow!

    Yes, it is seen as a constant struggle if a woman is a home-maker (cooks meals and cleans) and is a working woman.... I have like many others seen three cases- one in which a woman is only a home maker and by her choice. She is amazing and joyful. Second, a woman is a working one & relies on support system, again by choice. I find her confident to juggle tasks and not shy to ask for support/help. Third, a woman who is working from home, and also a home-maker. Tough indeed, she strives every single day to be better at all roles assigned to her. If Mr. Bhagat says one type has benefit over the other, it is like not giving due respect to them.

    Moreover, I totally agree when you say that kids of independent working women are not necessarily stronger than the mollycuddled ones! It is the environment, the temperament & personality of parents, their lifestyle, personal values that shape up a kid.

    Well...Oh my God! I will write a whole post in this comment...by telling where I agree with your words! So, Just to say....'I do' for everything.

    Great post Sakshi.

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    1. I love your response to this post. It makes me know you as a woman so much better. And glad to know we rest on the same plane, Shaifali. That is a lovely tiny little post up there, but you sure can create one out of it on your blog and lead me there too. :)

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  24. Well, I completely agree with you in your criticism about Bhagat's vews on women. I have read his books. And it is also a fact, I hope you will agree, that he never claimed that he was making contribution to literature. His books are certainly not literary kinds, but then we need diversity.

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    1. I agree with you. I am all for promoting New Age authors. Literature cannot stop at classics. We need to invent-re-invent and so on. However, I write here purely on his views printed in various media. I find him shallow, self-contradictory and self-aggrandising to the point of not realising how confused he actually is. This has nothing to do with his books.
      Thanks, Binod. Your feedback is important.

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  25. Stumbled across this and I have one word for you lady.. Salute!
    :)

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    1. :D Thank you! Good fortune this stumbling.
      Hope to see more of you around!

      Delete
  26. Came here after listening to the podcast with Ishaan. Your asking CB for a job after quitting yours had me guffawing. To his credit he was the first to write Indian chicklit for guys - a very good story, too. But the number of grammatical errors in his books! Since, there's been an explosion of writing and the publishing industry has taken off in India. Wish 'Editing' had also emerged as a business but it involves spending money when an author (self published or otherwise) wants to make money. One does come across some superb writing, thank goodness, but it is still like searching for gold amongst the dross.

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    1. Agree with everything you say, 100 per cent.
      Thanks for coming by, Khoty.

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  27. hahahaha.. chetan bhagat busted.. yet again... Good one Sakshi :)

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    1. I like that 'yet again'. It makes me believe you have seen him being busted before. How there is hope that the world is waking up to fake and self-contradictory 'gyaan'.
      Thanks, Roohi.

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  28. His new novel is apparently called Half - Girlfriend.. I am banging my head to find out what it means...Got nostalgic and came back to this..He should write an autobiography titled " Musings of a confused moron.. None of his gyaans for men seem to be in line with my ideals...So trash trash and more trash

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    1. Don't bang your head. What's the point? Such insight is not for us lesser mortals. Anyway, I don't fault him his books. I just find his views very upsetting.
      Why not write about hos his men-gyaan doesn't agree with your ideas?

      Delete
  29. The name of his new novel was enough to make me throw up. I have had trouble in the past thumbing through his so-called best-sellers. I thought I was the only one who didn't understand what the brouhaha is all about. Your write up was very apt in-your-face for an incorrigibly dumb person.

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    1. Gauri, to think that after reading just two op-eds (the ones I have quoted above) I found enough material to point to his utterly irresponsible and self-contradictory statements tells us a lot about not just him but also us all, eager to appoint and promote such 'guides' for our lives.
      Thanks for reading! This write-up had to be in-your-face. :D

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  30. This is absolutely brilliant. You spoke my mind!

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    1. Love your name! :D
      Glad you agreed. I wrote this so many months back, but it fails to become irrelevant. Alas! :D

      Delete
  31. hi sweetie!
    you have a great blog so I wanna to ask you how about follow each other for keep in touch?
    Let me know Ialways follow back :)
    have a great day!
    100000 kisses :)


    www.thegrisgirl.blogspot.com.es

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  32. ..Chetan Bhagat ripped apart..lovely piece of writing Sakshi..
    ..i would just like to quote my favorite writer Charles Bukowski..
    ..it shows a paradox called our ' society '..

    ' we are born like this..into this..
    into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
    into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
    into a country where the jails are full and madhouses closed
    into a place where masses elevate FOOLS into RICH HEROES '

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    1. Ah! That is a quotable quote indeed! Thank you for sharing it with me, Rigzin!
      And for reading and liking this. :)

      Delete
  33. I remember reading that trash and feeling similar rage. Could not have said it better! And you are right, this post will not become irrelevant.. Sad, but true...

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    1. :) It's still relevant, though I think he's busy designing clothes now, no? :)

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  34. Ha ha ha Sakshi. I sure hope he is listening. Oh well, if he were, he wouldn't have been imparting his 'slimy gyan' would he?
    I bought all his books with an ambitious project in mind - to write a book called "Why we hate Chetan Bhagat." But, I couldn't get through even quarter of the first book and the project went kaput. Someday, when I am only half sane will give it another go.
    Until then, let me enjoy the brickbats thrown at him and hide my surreptitious smile. :) Very well written. *Clap clap.* :)

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    1. Ha ha, you did not do that? Buy all his books!?
      Thank you, Usha. This was written ages ago but some things ring true for all time to come, don't they? :D

      Delete
  35. Sakshi ! I couldn't have read anything better this evening. Enjoyed every line. :)

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    1. Oh wow! Thank you, Manisha.
      Glad you agree and good to see you here!

      Delete
  36. I've just discovered your blog and this is the post I've read..! How meticulously you've collected all the details and nailed it here..!! I am simply in awe of your writing style Sakshi..!

    Glad to have found you :)

    Cheers

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  37. Really women(in this blog) are so much offended by him. Really people(blogger) nowadays are becoming sillier.
    I know his writing is not at par if compared with respect to literary point of view.
    But ladies, he also knows this,believe me. But he writes as he loves writing stories. Yup, everyone has it's own opinion so why being mad at him. It's not that every popular person has opinion which we will be at par with the bench mark you set for them. His novels are not like Jeffrey Archer but they are short, fun loving and most important part, entertaining. They are exception in his writings but I don't like diverge from the topic.
    You need to realize this fact that he is a good writer and entertainer. Though his motivational skills sucks. But people love him for his works not as a person.

    Sakshi, you are also doing what you do the best. If you hate him, no personal offence. Almost all my close my friends don't like him though for different reasons. But I tell you, leaving them my all class fellows loved him. So it's just about perception.
    "It's not what you look at that matters,it's what you see."...
    No offence and just a opinion :)

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  38. Believe me,if these ladies can see HAPPY NEW YEAR OR DILWALE ... and are commenting on his writing then facepalm!

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