As an investment banker, Upendra Namburi has seen the numbers rocking before him for a good sixteen years. So, when he decided to pen down his ideas and experiences on paper, it was quite obvious that the book would be named numerically. And thus came out ‘31’, his debut work that deals with the thrills, politics, realities and hypocrisies of the corporate world. Resham Sengar of Zeenews.com tried to find out what made the author write the off-beat novel.
Please tell us what your book is all about.
‘31’ is the story of Ravi Shastry, a regional head of a multinational bank.
The collapse in the bank’s Brazilian subsidiary triggers an upheaval within the bank as thousands are laid off across the globe. A restructuring is advocated in the Indian operations and to make matters worse, it becomes clear that a firing list is being released on 31st March which could cull a large portion of the Indian employee base.
In a perverted twist of fate, his wife Savitha discovers that her job is also on the line! A series of personal and financial debacles amidst social ignominy pushes Ravi to the verge of insanity. Will he keep his family together by 31st March? Will he have a job on 31st March?
The book is a unique fast paced thriller which keeps the reader on the edge of their seats for sure!
What was your aim behind writing a corporate thriller?
It was an attempt to offer a story that readers could relate to. We spend over one thirds of our lives at work, and it seemed an obvious choice for a backdrop. One can easily relate the characters and events in the story with their work place.
To what extent is ‘31’ based on your real life events? How much of the book is real and how much of it is fiction?
The book is completely a work of fiction. It has been inspired by a spate of events that have impacted companies and industries across the world for several years now. I have had conversations with readers from different age groups and industries, and they have been able to relate with the characters and dynamics of corporate life as if it was happening to them in reality.
The corporate world has been tagged as ruthless. What is your take on dealing with office politics, stress at work and other issues that come with one’s stint in the corporate sector?
Many people closely associate their identities with the corporate tags and designations, and if one were to delineate the two, this would be a huge step forward in reducing stress. Another aspect that working professionals would do well is in communicating clearly and respecting colleagues as individuals and for the work that they undertake, without looking at hierarchies. The market dynamics are a reality. How we respond and rise is within our control.
Being a Mumbaikar at heart, what made you base your novel’s story in the IT city - Bangalore?
‘31’ is about a modern South Indian family and I was looking for a location which offered the dynamics and vibrancy of a cosmopolitan setting. Also as the protagonist is the regional head operating away from the head office, I was looking for a location that was distant from the conventional head office locations of banks such as Mumbai and Delhi. On another note, Bangalore is a city that I am enamored with. The city has taken into its fold all the aspects of ‘modern’ life and yet retained its charm and character.
What all troubles did you face while writing the book?
The protagonist Ravi and his wife Savitha face a multitude of challenges and obstacles over the course of those tumultuous 31 days of March. Capturing the essence of their emotions and encapsulating the various dimensions of their corporate and personal lives in a compact and fast paced thriller format was possibly one of the greater challenges while writing this book.
‘31’ is the first book in a three-part series. Please tell us what about the other two books and when can the readers expect to get their hands on them?
The subsequent books are titled ‘60’ and ‘8’ and capture the essence and magic of timelines in our lives and how quickly events and circumstances can change in a short period of time. The books would also delve on the impact and pressure of timelines on human behavior. They would have a corporate background but lean more towards the emotional and personal lives of the characters.
The next two titles would be released over the course of the next two years.
Why have you named all your books by numbers?
It just reflects the reality of contemporary urban lifestyles and how numbers are interwoven into every aspect of our lives. Time, timelines, deadlines, flights, trains, meetings, business plans, schedules, the stock market, the grocery budget…the list goes on. Numbers and time are all around us.
If your book is made into a movie, then who do you think would suit Ravi Shastry’s (the key protagonist) and Savitha’s (Ravi’s spouse) role? And who should direct the film?
If this was made into a Hindi movie I think several new age actors who would suit the various characters in the book. But I think Farhan Akhtar would capture the essence and sensibility fabulously. As regards to the roles of Savitha and Maithili, there are several possibilities!