Writer Chetan Bhagat’s 2016 bestseller One Indian Girl has run into trouble six months after its release – the author has been served a temporary injunction staying the sale of the book on charges of plagiarism. Bengaluru-based Anvita Bajpai, who is an author and research professional, announced the court order in a Facebook post on Monday.
Bajpai told Scroll.in that Bhagat’s book “has an emotional flow” very similar to her short story Drawing Parallels from her 2014 collection Life, Odds & Ends published by LiFi Publications. She also noted similarities in the characters and places in Bhagat’s One Indian Girl.
“When I came across several Facebook posts detailing Chetan Bhagat’s latest book, it sounded a lot like my story. So I read through One Indian Girl and kept wondering how the content could be so similar. Then I realised that I had handed a copy of my book to him at the Bangalore Literature Festival in 2014 for feedback.”
The next thing she handed to Bhagat was a legal notice, on February 22 this year, asking him to withdraw the book from stores and cough up Rs 5 lakh as damages. Bhagat responded a month later denying all allegations, which prompted Bajpai to approach a civil court in Bengaluru.
“I filed an original suit seeking permanent injunction restraining Chetan Bhagat and the publisher from selling One Indian Girl and also sought damages worth Rs 1 lakh,” Bajpai said in her Facebook post. The court granted temporary injunction till the next hearing, restraining Bhagat and Rupa Publications from selling the novel. The order, which was passed on April 19, details a number of Bajpai’s claims and concludes that One Indian Girl was “adapted” from Bajpai’s Drawing Parallels.
Bhagat’s One Indian Girl – his seventh novel – is about an investment banker, Radhika Mehta, who must choose between the three men in her life, while trying to keep up a distinctly different image for the sake of her family. The novel received some flak for claiming to embrace feminist ideals, a fact contested by many readers.
When Scroll.in contacted Bhagat for a clarification on the plagiarism charges, he responded by directing us to his Facebook post and tweet. “This is deeply unfortunate. This is, for one, an absolute surprise for me as I have never read any of this author’s works. My stories are always original – including One Indian Girl – and it is unthinkable for me to do anything like what is suggested,” he said in a post on his Facebook page.
“This could be a misunderstanding and I’m sure will be clarified as what is being suggested is baseless. My publisher’s legal team will be taking appropriate steps,” Bhagat added.
Rupa Publications chose to not comment on the matter.