Q & A
What is ‘2 States’ about?
2 States is about a boy and a girl from two different states of India, who fall in love and want to get married. Of course, their parents don’t agree. What happens next is what the book is about.
The tagline says ‘The story of my marriage’. Is it inspired by real events?
Well, like my first book, this book draws a lot of inspiration from my own life. I am Punjabi and my wife is Tamilian, similar to the protagonists in the story. Rest, I leave it for the reader to figure it out.
Love and Marriage – why did you decide to write this book after the relatively intense ‘3 mistakes of my life’
Writing 3 mistakes became too heavy for me. A story about riots, manipulative politics and the impact on the younger generation made me quite disturbed after writing the novel. Also, my strength is humour and many of my readers felt the books becoming more serious. So, I am back to doing something light and fun – but still with a message.
What is the message?
I’d like people to read the book to find it out for themselves. However, the message is simple – if India is one country, why can’t we marry a boy/girl from another state? A modern India will never emerge with so many differences between people.
Are you nervous before the release given the extraordinary expectations?
Of course I am nervous as the size of the print runs is unheard of in Indian publishing. The book has to deliver to these expectations. However, two things make me more relaxed. One, the initial feedback from editors is highly positive and two, I feel secure about my reader’s love for me. If I won’t let them down, they won’t either.
You moved to India, you quit your banking job. Apart from such irresponsible behavior, what else have you been upto?
Quiting the bank was indeed a tough decision, as I didn’t actually dislike my banking career. I was reasonably senior, had a lot of perks and of course investment banks pay well. However, I found it difficult to invest the required amount of time in my writing.
I wanted to write beyond the novels and take on youth based issues, something I have done since leaving the bank. I have op-ed columns in Dainik Bhaskar, one of the biggest Hindi newspapers and Times of India, a leading English daily. These columns allow me to bring out important issues and my take on what will make a progressive Indian nation. The main purpose of the books and films is to entertain, but the columns allow me to give my views on how the nation should be run.
I also do several events/talks across the country – with the aim to motivate and inspire youngsters in smaller towns. These have given me a terrific response.
Most importantly, I am at home more now so I can look after the twins better, as my wife still works in the bank.
How are the films based on the books coming along? What is your involvement with these films and Bollywood in general?
My involvement in Bollywood is in writing projects, mostly related to the adaptations of my books so far. I will do a pure screenplay next after 2 States.
I am currently involved with two films:
- ‘3 diots’, starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor, set for release in December 2009. Inspired by “Five Point Someone”, this will be directed and scripted by Rajkumar Hirani who has also added his own take on the story.
- Abhishek Kapoor’s untitled film based on “The 3 mistakes of my life”, produced by Farhan Akhtar/ Ritesh Sindhwani. Abhishek directed Rock On, and he, myself and Pubali Chaudhri are currently working on the script. ‘Hello’ , the film based on “one night @ the call center”, as many may know, released in October 2008.
What is your next project?
To take a break! I’ve had a hectic two years with the new book, film adaptations, columns, talks and taking a decision to quit my job. It has taken a lot of emotional energy and I want to rejuvenate myself, maybe get back to yoga. After that, it is possibly a screenplay.
Any message for your readers?
More than anything, thanks a lot. Most of my readers are young and I’ll say, always try to look at the brighter side of life, even in the toughest of times. This attitude makes us surmount the biggest challenges, just as the characters do in my books. And keep love above everything else in life.