Yuppy by day, writer by night

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  • Published 21.03.10

New Delhi, March 20: Materials engineer Vikram Rana remembers the day Chetan Bhagat spoke to him and other students at his college, IIT Guwahati, as the day he decided to become a writer.

He had had a love of writing since childhood. “I used to write and perform skits. But when I saw Bhagat standing in front of me, students looking at him in awe, I thought, ‘Why not me?’” said the 24-year old, who today balances fiction-writing with a job in Singapore with Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services corporation.

Also 24, IIT Bombay alumnus Animesh Verma has already witnessed his second book disappearing off the shelves, the economic recession — a key theme in the book — apparently striking a chord with readers.

They may not write Salman Rushdie-like literature, but a growing breed of young Indian professionals is penning pulp fiction, and their success is quietly spurring dozens more to join the trend.

Many are inspired by the success of best-selling author Bhagat — an IIT and IIM graduate — who has seen two of his books form the seed for big-ticket Bollywood films.

Some others cite the recession, and its impact on the dreams of the young at institutions like the IITs and IIMs, as their motivation to write.

But all of them appear to be penning their own life experiences in an easy-to-read fiction format that sales numbers suggest is attractive to readers.

“The trend of young professionals wanting to write fiction is growing so fast that I today receive between 15 and 20 proposals every day,” said Jayanta Bose, MD of the Delhi-based Srishti Publications.

Bhagat’s background helps young professionals relate to him, and his success in turn motivates them to try their own hand at a career in fiction-writing, Bose suggested.

“The recession, and the disillusionment it brought to many youngsters, may have also turned them towards writing as an outlet to express their emotions,” he said.

Verma’s first novel, Love, Life and Dream On, which he wrote while he was still at IIT, dealt with the 2005 Delhi bomb blasts and the anti-reservation protests that rocked the capital over the next three years.

His second book, I Am Broke...Love Me, follows a young Indian investment banker based in the US who loses his job in the recession.

The book is based on his experiences during placements last year at IIT Bombay, where companies that used to queue up with jobs refused to hire, and includes anecdotes from IIT seniors who lost plush jobs. Released in February, it has already sold over 5,000 copies and publishers have had to order a second reprint.

Novoneel Chakraborty, 25, was in the final year of his BBA course in Calcutta when he started penning short stories and sharing them with select friends. After two successful books, he is now writing a script for Bengali film director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury.

“My parents wanted me to pursue an MBA but I decided to follow my heart,” he said.

Another Calcutta boy, Diptangshu Das, is only in third year of medical school — RG Kar Medical College — but is already a successful author courtesy his first and only published book, The Journey to Nowhere.

Chandigarh-based software engineer Ravinder Pal Singh took to fiction-writing as a way of tackling personal tragedy after his girlfriend died in an accident.

“I never thought I would be an author. But when I was done with all the crying, I thought, ‘Why not let it out in the form of writing?’ It has helped me share my grief with so many others,” Singh, who works with Infosys, said.

Today, he is a role model for others at work — at least 20 colleagues have come up to him and asked him for advice on writing their own books, he said.