The bestselling author talks to Subhash K Jha about the new book and his earlier works being turned into films.
Your new book is called Revolution 2020. The title suggests an epic quality to the tale. Is this your most 'epic' book to date?
It is a somewhat grand title, and at some level it represents the grand aspirations of one of the characters. However, it still is, at its heart, a love story about individuals. Yes, compared to my other books, it is somewhat larger in scope.
The novel's theme suggests a triangular love tale against a socio-political backdrop.
What has prompted you to try this format?
I became involved with national issues, especially when I started to write columns two years ago. Education and Corruption became the two causes I wrote about the most in my opinion pieces. As I delved deeper into understanding India, I felt a revolution was inevitable. To explore that idea more, I had started writing Revolution 2020 two years ago, even before the revolution in Egypt. Quite amazingly, the book is coming out at a time when we have some early signs of a revolution in front of us.
You are also a social thinker and columnist. How much of the socio-political upheavals outside influences your fiction?
It is inevitable that some of my thoughts about social issues will creep into my stories. However, I am very strict about not indulging in social messages too much. A story needs to be entertaining and be able to connect with the readers foremost. If a social thought can fit into that, I incorporate it.
How 'political' is Revolution 2020?
isn't a political novel as such, and there is no political agenda either. However, when you look at politics in the broader sense in terms of making people think in a certain manner, then I am hoping Revolution 2020 will do that to a certain extent.
How much pressure did you feel to deliver the novel to your expectant readership? Does that pressure take away from the sheer pleasure of writing?
There was significant pressure at the start. The book is coming after 2 States, one of my most widely read books, 3 Idiots and 2 years of writing columns. I have a lot more readers than the previous book, and it is difficult to make everyone happy at the same time. However, the early reviews of Revolution 2020 are extraordinary, and I am now not worried at all. I think the book will deliver to expectations, and some more.
The movie rights of all your novels have been sold. Do you enjoy the thought of your words being given a visual spin?
Yes, of course. I write in English, which though is growing at a fast pace, does not reach a majority of Indians. Also, many Indians still prefer movies over books. So, if a medium allows my story to reach new people, why not? However, it is not the main reason why I write, and I do not obsess about the film adaptations anymore. I am fortunate to have a large readership for my books already.
There has been no progress on the movie version of 2 States. Is that worrying?
Not at all. I have realised that the films business is slow and depends on many factors, many of which are out of your control. I sold the rights of Five Point Someone in 2005, and 3 Idiots only came in 2009. Even Hello took three years. A lot of filmmakers have told me 2 States has enormous potential, and so I am confident the film will get made.