The Sellout Nation by Vikram Bhatti takes a wicked, irreverent and tongue-in-cheek look at India’s tryst with Globalisation. The novel is a humorous fictionalized account of the Republic of Bharatpur, which is infamous for its poverty and potholes, and is home to a billion locals.
Well, the collapse of the USSYAAR whacks the citizens of the Republic of Bharatpur from their comfort zone. A new superpower is now about to pay them a visit, and make them an offer they cannot refuse. The generosity of two international visitors, Mr. George W. Push and Miss Pamela Lewinsky, the President and the First Lady Secretary of the global superpower USK starts the ball rolling.
So, on one bright afternoon, with an impoverished countryside for a backdrop and scores of happy faces dreaming dollar dreams in the foreground, the ‘Open Your Door’ policy comes into being, and the fate of the nation is sealed forever. However, how this policy will play out is an epic tale yet to unfold. With Prophet Profit in charge, Gullibalisation, renamed Globalisation is a tool of choice in order to wage product wars to win the coffers of the world. It is just a matter of time before Bharatpur gets tangled in this web.
You’ll meet an interesting slew of characters…right from Rahul Bhaiya, the politician, Mr. Garbachop, the politician from Moscow, to minister Mohan Singh and a host of other people such as Aam Prasad, a commoner and the wise Ped Prabhu, who is a tree and provides much needed wisdom.
Bookedforlife chats with Vikram Bhatti to understand the thoughts behind “The Sellout Nation”.
How did the idea for this book emerge?
My book, The Sellout Nation, is my wicked take on the Globalisation of India and how it has impacted our nation over the last three decades. I believe it is not fair for any nation to be guided by financial interests of other nations, even if it means occasional GDP jumps and availability of Chinese made western products in the domestic market. I see Globalisation as an economic invasion, much like the invasions our civilisation has witnessed in the past. However, what really urged me to write this book was how despite undertaking a monumental freedom struggle that was strictly fought on the principals of Swadeshi, in just four decades of attaining Independence, we conveniently swapped it for its exact opposite – Gol-bol-lie-sation. Doesn’t it tell something about us?
What sounds effortlessly humorous actually requires a lot of hard work! The book had me in splits! Right from the language and names of characters to actual descriptions of situations, every page brims with humour. Can you talk about using humour as your primary writing tool?
I am humorist at heart and I love satires. In fact, I work hard towards adapting my stories into these genres. When it came to writing ‘The Sellout Nation’ I was clear from the start that it was going to be a fun read, with twisted phraseology, spoof characters, silly jokes and cheap digs. I had some of the characters and events worked out beforehand, but most of it flowed in organically. Moreover, Globalisation falls under Economics, which is not of much interest to many. My challenge was to turn this drab and seemingly research-based subject into popular fiction, something that a larger reader base could easily comprehend and enjoy.
The characters of the book also show that very often people themselves are also to blame for whatever happens to them! Aam Prasad represents everything that is wrong with the common man! What are your views on this?
A dialogue from my book reads, “How can you blame a smart-ass for fooling a fool?” Yes, people have to accept the blame for whatever happens to them, because people make choices and choices have consequences. I think the real problem with the ‘common man’, which Aam Prasad represents, is that he is way too gullible, hence prone to committing the same mistake over and over again. Perhaps, being a traditional society, we still go by the face value. But, here, we are dealing with the West, which is never known to hold its word. In fact, they constantly change the goalpost to suit their requirement and it takes us decades before we catch their con. For this reason, my book refers to Globalisation as ‘Gulliblisation’ – the art of globalising the gullible.
One of the characters I found fascinating is Ped Prabhu, the centuries old Banyan tree, who has a very different perspective on the entire history of Bharatpur thanks to age. Tell us a bit more about what you wanted to bring out through this character…
I love Ped Pradhu myself, the 500-year old Banyan tree that has been around since the coming of the Mughals. He loves to sleep long hours and is forever irritated with the Locals for disturbing his sleep whenever they are in trouble. Although, in the book, Ped Prabhu is portrayed as the oldest and the wisest character of the village, he is, in a way, their sleeping conscience to which the Locals return to from time to time for guidance. He provides the objective view.
The entire concept of westernizing the younger generation to set a long term market for globalization seems to come across in the book. It also seems critical about many ‘developments’ which have come forth in the country. I understand a lot of these is tongue-in-cheek, but, what is the one takeaway for readers of the book? Something that as a writer, you would want the end reader to recognise?
Apart from all the jokes, spoofs and gags that fill the surface, my book really springs from the philosophic difference between East and West. While Eastern philosophy stresses on sustaining with nature, the Western philosophy is openly capitalistic and abusive, both to nature and nations it extracts profit from. Concepts such as ‘Internationalism’, ‘Aspiration Value’, and ‘Progress’ have been contrived by the West only to push consumerism. Moreover, the younger generations must recognise that Capitalism has already reached its zenith with Globalisation, there’s not much room for it to progress any further. It’s best that we stop going gaga over Globalisation and internationalism, and instead root for Localisation as the way forward. Don’t be a sellout!
The Sellout Nation will have the reader in guffaws, and even though you may not exactly agree with everything the author purports, the reader will appreciate the idea of localization and Swadeshi.
Title: The Sellout Nation
Author: Vikram Bhatti (http://www.vikrambhatti.com)
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Fiction, Humour