Books being made into films is a matter of luck, says Ravi Subramanian
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Books being made into films is a matter of luck, says Ravi Subramanian

Ravi Subramanian on his new book (about an author’s extramarital affair), some publishing gossip and juggling writing with a finance job.

brunch Updated: Dec 02, 2015 09:26 IST
Ravi Subramanian,Chetan Bhagat,Ashwin Sanghi
(Photo by Aalok Soni/ Hindustan Times)(Hindustan Times)

Bestselling author Ravi Subramanian has written a new book – The Bestseller She Wrote. And for a while, the club of bestselling Indian writers was abuzz with who the book is really about. So, first we’ll tell you what the book is really about: a middle-aged banker-turned-bestselling writer (a married man) finds himself a protégée (a young, fresh-out-of-B-school aspiring author) and an affair ensues.

It could all very well be fiction. But Subramanian is known to base his books on people he knows and real-life controversies. In fact, his If God Was A Banker (2007) was allegedly based on incidents at Citibank where he worked – many people felt it was based on two of his former colleagues at the bank. So we won’t be surprised if this too is based on, well, bestselling writers you know. A Mumbai newspaper, in fact, hinted that according to publishing gossip, the book is “actually a thinly veiled account of a real-life bestselling author’s alleged extramarital affair.”

We asked Subramanian about all this, here’s what he told us:

There’s speculation as to who the book is about. Ashwin Sanghi, Ravinder Singh and Durjoy Datta have denied that it’s about them. Why take it so seriously?

It’s a middle-aged love story. A lot of Indian bestselling authors are middle aged – except Ravinder and Durjoy. And so people try to connect the dots. For example, and this is my mistake, when Aditya (the protagonist) introduces himself, he talks about being a banker-turned-bestseller. Amish and I use that line very often. So somebody said, is this about Amish? It’s not – he’s a very good friend, I wouldn’t write about him like this. Then, since this guy goes to Hong Kong and comes back to write books, they figured it’s Chetan Bhagat. And somebody even asked me, since Aditya’s from IIM Bangalore and continues to be a banker while writing books, is it you? My wife turned to me and said, are you trying to give me a message? She was kidding, of course.

Or half-kidding.

I’m assuming she was kidding! Look, it’s a mix and match of the lives of bestselling authors. Aditya Kapur doesn’t entirely track anyone’s life. It has bits and pieces of everyone in it.

Were you uncomfortable while writing it?

No. But it put me out of my comfort zone. I write largely plot-driven stories. Here, I had to develop my characters.

So why did you write it?

My books so far targeted a male audience. But with this book, we’re trying to reach out to women readers.

You write about the ultimate male fantasy to appeal to women?

Yeah, that’s true. But it’s also about true love and a woman who is cheated on, the ambition of the young…

It’s going to be made into a movie?

The movie rights have been sold to a production house – Siddharth Malhotra’s Cinevistaa. Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone are reading the book...

Was it written with a film in mind?

No. But I knew a story like this would at least be considered for a film. But books being made into films is just a matter of luck.

How did you get lucky?

Siddharth Malhotra pinged me on Facebook one day and said he wanted to meet me. He asked me to write a film about a bank heist – supposed to feature Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan and possibly Varun Dhawan. We met a few times, and I mentioned the book I was writing. He asked for the manuscript, but it was not in a form to be read. I made him promise to not be judgmental about my writing capabilities because it had not even been edited. He read it within a day and wanted to make the film.

What are you working on now?

I have a contract with Penguin for a thriller: an anthology of short stories that will be out in 2016. I’m also working on another romance.

All this alongside a regular job!

I get to office early at about 8am, and I’m back home by 6 to write.

I’m an executive director at a company which gives out retail loans. A typical day involves reviewing sales figures, collection figures, and meeting big-ticket loan customers… The benefit of being a senior is that it gives you the flexibility to do what you want.

But don’t colleagues complain about the time you spend on your writing?

Never. I had a boss in HSBC who hated my book, because it gave me more visibility than him. He never missed an opportunity to talk ill about my book, but still could not insinuate that I was not focusing on work. You have to make sure work doesn’t suffer.

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From HT Brunch, November 29

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First Published: Nov 29, 2015 10:42 IST