Oct 26, 2012 | Closed
On his book 'The Angel's Share'
The Angel's Share is a story of loss and wisdom, dark, funny and relentlessly honest about youth and ambition.
- I am big fan - SA (secret Admirer) Asked by: SA
- Why, thank you Secret. I blush duly :-)
- Are you enlightened? Asked by: Dhawan
- Not hardly, mate.
- Given the fact that you have been educated in a top college, don't you think that you should be writing on more cerebral or serious subjects? Do you think you have succumbed to the ChetanBhagatesque style of masala fiction? Asked by: Dhawan
- There are brighter and more qualified people expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. I can't say I feel guilty quite yet. :-)
- ‘They called what they had lost the angel’s share. They believed that an angel would take a little of their drink and, in exchange, bless the rest of it with a celestial flavour.’ Where did you get this beautiful quote from? It really hits home Asked by: natasha
- Thank you Natasha. I wrote that, I wasn't quoting anybody there. I read about the concept and it spoke to me deeply, and seemed to stand for the processes we don't watch, within us and without us...
- There are portions of the book which refer to incidents that happened in NLSIU, and while you may have anonymized the persons involved, did it strike you that their privacy was compromised? What extent will you go to to ensure that your books sell? Asked by: Alyosha
- There are many ways this question could be dealt with. Ignoring it is not an option, despite the unfortunate handle chosen by the party asking. I think it requires a suitably selfish mind to imagine that their own identities as fictionalized are of such great and abiding public interest that anybody in this deep and wide world would be so interested as to invade their privacy. None of us is so unique that these things could not be anybody's story. Regardless, if there is a duty of fairness which rests with a writer, to be fair to his characters and to anybody inspiring them, I believe it has been met with honesty. And above all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
- At least personally, I'd like to see you write some fantasy or science fiction, given the vivid descriptions in your writing. Any hopes we might see something of that nature? Asked by: Vipul
- Thank you Vipul. I am in fact working on something in that vast genre, but it's very inchoate and unformed right now and so I can't say too much about it.
- Abhi-lash is an interesting character for microscopic/psychological study. Is the corporate world really that bad - you get the whip for others' doings? Is there no realization in such men that they can hurt/destroy someone's esteem/confidence for all times to come? Asked by: PlsAnswer
- Well, what do I say, the world is a pretty tough place and there are people who will use anything or anyone they can in whatever way they see fit. I didn't want to make Abhilash a villainous character, just a victim of his own choices, and there are lot more of those out there than people who are outright mean.
- Hi, I was a part of your event, i was surprised by your thoughts, the way you think. I thought men like you doesnt exist anymore. What has made you so intellectual, such deep thinker? Asked by: SA
- Fish, mostly. I quote below: I stared at the man. "How many tins of sardines did you eat, Jeeves?" "None, sir. I am not fond of sardines." "You mean, you thought of this great, this ripe, this amazing scheme entirely without the impetus given to the brain by fish?" "Yes, sir." "You stand alone, Jeeves." (P.G. Wodehouse, Episode of Dog McIntosh)
- Who would you want to play the main protagonists when 'The Angel's Share' is made into a movie? Asked by: Dhawan
- Hypothetical question, of course, given that the studios haven't been bothered so far, but if ever there was any chance of making a movie of it, and any choices rested with me, I think it would me more interesting to cast unknown young actors, who can really get into the role and not worry about what it means to play a role while being whoever people think they are...
- What is the purpose of human existence? Asked by: PremDa
- Opinions are divided on this issue...
- Books like 'The Angel's Share' make great movies. Have you sold the movie rights of the book yet? Asked by: Dhawan
- Nope. These incredibly valuable movie rights are still unsold, and in fact, you're the first person to ask. I don't know if it really could make a decent movie without a lot of surgery or omissions, but they made a movie out of Cloud Atlas, so I guess anything's possible.
- Have you left law to become a full time author? or is 'Lawyer'ing still on the cards? Asked by: concerned citizen
- I'm very much a lawyer still. Very much so. Once I'm done with this interview, I intend to return to drafting the O. VI R. 17 Application I was working on earlier in the afternoon :-)
- You are one of the youngest writers on the block. You have a successful law career happening. Do you get a lot of female attention? Is there a special someone in your life? Asked by: Dhawan
- I can honestly state that a surplus of female attention is not an occupational hazard for a writer. :-)
- Does the character "Dhruv" exist? Or, is he an amalgamated-derivative of many? Asked by: Gantavya
- Well, he's a bit of caricature, but you can never underestimate the ability of people to become caricatures of themselves. Never met a person quite like that, but I imagine they're floating about, and life is long, and if and when I do, there will be a frisson of recognition.
- I enjoyed reading Angel's Share and found the strain of comedy involved very endearing. Most of it should make sense as one critic put it "to anyone who as been to a residential campus" . But do you think its fair to say that some of the things you hint at are going to strike home only if you've been to a 'vibrant' campus like law school and no other(inter alia for the simple reason that there are more cute chicks there than all the IITs/NITs etc taken together) ..lol..the CLAT people better pay me for promoting law Schools here..haha Asked by: Rehab
- I think the human capacity for imagination and empathy are greater than frequently given credit for. We're all pretty similar at the end of the day, so we understand stories that people from any distance tell. Without commenting on campuses I don't know - IITs/NIITs - law school girls are certainly cute :-)
- Can you please suggest any creative writing clubs or something on the same lines in Delhi? Asked by: Akanksha Jain
- Wow, good question Akanksha! I have no idea. I'm sure there are good classes out there and workshops too. It's really helpful to have people read your work and give you feedback, even if it may hurt. Honest friends and good company are solid assets for a young writer, and I'm very thankful for all the folk who gave me feedback when I was writing TAS...
- The Angel's Share was a great read, especially for Law Schoolites who knew you. But what now? Will you continue writing in this vein or are there other avenues you might explore? Asked by: Vipul
- Thank you, Vipul. I don't think writing 'in this vein' is really an option. It's like the wise man says, you can never step into the same river twice, because it's never the same you and the river's changed too. I'm exploring some very exciting writing projects, but there's a way to go before they fructify into something solid.
- Did any part of your school or college education prepare you for writing fiction? Asked by: Charles
- I was very lucky to have a couple of very special teachers in school, very inspiring ones, who taught me the 'liberal arts' subjects, i.e. literature, history etc. I feel like thanking them constantly for being rigorous with me, for exposing weak writing and pretension when they saw it. Which is what makes reviewing such a job because you're constantly beset with fear of pretension, and you don't know how hard you should be on yourself. A good teacher can animate stories, bring paper fables and dry history to life, and that's an incredible talent and a very meaningful life, in my opinion.
- How easy or difficult was it to juggle around with sports, music, academics, the corporate world and draw analogies from the same and present them as morals?? Asked by: Deshan
- I realize that one of the tones which colors The Angel's Share is a sort of explicit philosophizing, and it does polarize readers. Some reviewers have dragged me over the coals for it, and some have really gotten the spirit of it, and been positive about it. I guess when I was writing TAS I was trying to grapple with the philosophical problem of what a valuable life is, and how to live best when facing the spectre of death. That's a pretty basic human quandary, and a very absorbing one. I just felt a lot of strands connecting in a way which aesthetically and instinctively made sense, however disingenuous that kind of argumentation feels otherwise...
- Where would you want to see yourslef few years down the line? A successful lawyer or a successful author?? Asked by: Monark Gahlot
- Wow, that's a great question! I can't say, really. Lawyers play a really important and respected role in society, and it's a profession which I imagine as being compatible with living an honourable gentlemanly life where you can affect people positively. But writers do something a little more tenuous and far reaching simultaneously - they speak to strangers intimately, and they can cross time and space, and that's pretty amazing. I guess there's no real choice here though, because I can't see myself not writing, however slowly and in however troubled a fashion. And the law is a career path which I'm following and enjoying, and I can't seen what would draw me off it...
- What inspired you to write a book like this? Asked by: Sunil
- Sometimes life impels you into action. This story was building up in me, a set of fragments which hinted that they could belong in a greater whole. It became a very big deal for me to put it down on paper. I guess sometimes you don't have a choice about what you will write. It's a pretty heady and confusing time, a person's early twenties, and I wanted to capture that feeling, the truths that jump out at you, the illusions that disguise them, as well as I could.
- Do you feel honoured that the media is comparing you to the living legend, Khushwant Singh? Asked by: Dhawan
- I must confess that hit me coming out of left field. I certainly haven't seen anyone saying that, and refuse to believe anyone could without socking their tongue solidly into their cheek. :-) But since it's come up, I think Khushwant Singh is an incredible writer and a great man. His 'Delhi' is a brilliant read for anyone interested in history. I met him once, and for the next two days I was completely blown away by the experience. I would love to live an equally long and interesting life and touch as many people as he has.
- Your name 'Satyajit' means 'the victory of truth'. Being a recipient of such a name, don't you think you should be writing non-fiction? Asked by: Dhawan
- Ha ha ha, that's hilarious! :-D On a marginally more serious note, non-fiction is something I have a great deal of respect for, and many of the books I've read absolutely enthralled have been non-fiction. Right now, I'm not seeing a project in the non-fiction field which I think I could really do something original or pathbreaking with, but if I ever see an opportunity to tell an untold story, I'd love to!
- How long before we see another book from you??? Any particular genre?? Asked by: Monark
- It may take a while to put out another book. It's a very long process and a bunch of factors really aren't in the author's hand. Aside from that, real life has a way of ballooning into the creative spaces of your life, and it's sometimes hard to make time to write at all. Genre fiction really interests me. I have been thinking of projects which you could call Noir/Crime or Science Fiction. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.
- The media has described your book as campus fiction. Would you compare yourself with chetan Bhagat? Asked by: Glade
- It's a good question. Mr. Bhagat (hereinafter 'CB') did get there first in a big way. I remember reading 5 Point Someone under the desk while in Civil Procedure Class and really, really identifying with it. It felt like someone was saying what I wanted to say. But I also feel that 5 Point Someone didn't tell the story as hard and gritty and painful as it felt when I was back there. Maybe hindsight eases a lot of aches and passions, but being the age of those characters I remember feeling that this was half the story, that every cut was deeper, and every high more statesque. I would like to think The Angel's Share hits some of those point... Also, I'd like to say that half of The Angel's Share is not based on a campus at all. The books was intended to straddle collegiate and professional worlds and so, I think it would hardly be accurate to say campus novel. Also it's a tough tag to deal with critically, and I must admit I feel uneasy when it's said.
- How did you manage to get the elusive Barkha Dutt to release your book? Asked by: Dhawan
- I asked politely. And she's very sweet. :-)
- How does it feel now that copies of your book have been included in the law school library? Asked by: nandi
- I have to say it's a bit funny to imagine. I spent many many many years using that library for information, research, entertainment, socializing, and the idea of resting on the shelves next to D'Amato and Seervai and Austin gives me a perverse kick.
- Does the real life "you" also think twice about what "Sasha" would have done had he been in your situation? Asked by: Deshan
- Yeah, all the time man :-)
- What inspired you to include so much soccer in your book? Asked by: Gantavya
- Apart from the simple answer - that I love soccer/football - I guess the reason it's in there is as a generational marker. Football speaks to a generation of young people in a way other sports don't right now. I may only be talking about a slice of urbanized and television-exposed youth, but it's very close to home for me and a lot of people I know. Maybe it's an accident of history that football and especially EPL style heavily marketed footy become a way of expressing ourselves. Only the years to come will tell us what happened here. But I would think that if you were watching young people in the 2000s, it would seem like something was going on there...
- Is this book autobiographical? Asked by: Dhawan
- That's a question I've been asked often. I guess the answer stays the same. No it's not. As a writer, you write what you know, and I've borrowed heavily from environments and events I've experienced personally, but that is largely by way of inspiration. Conversely, Real life is nearly impossible to shape into fiction if you're wedded to the truth. People and places leave a mark on you, and I guess its an honour a writer bears to reflect those. But no, there's no autobiography here. It would also strike me as a wee bit poncy to be writing autobiography this early in life ;-) Thanks Dhawan!