Published: 09th September 2017
How one writes about Tamil Nadu politics without being offensive, as told by a 21-year-old debut author
Writing about TN politics demands sensitivity says Sawan Lalchandani, whose debut novel is a political thriller based in TN
The gamut of admirers that the late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa (fondly known as Amma) continues to inspire to this day never ceases to amaze us. But what exactly had Hyderabad-based Sawan Lalchandani so smitten? "I just really like her whole persona. People worship her and she even had influence in the political circles of Delhi," says the guy who has never been to Tamil Nadu, let alone Chennai. Yet, he decided to base his first novel in Amma's state.
Even before we start talking about his debut novel, Desperation for Seats, which is a political thriller, he puts out a disclaimer. "This is a work of pure fiction. There are no real life characters involved in it," he says, sheepishly admitting that writing about Tamil Nadu politics demands extra sensitivity. But this did little to deter the 21-year-old. "Writing about politics itself is delicate but I have been following Tamil Nadu politics for some time now, so I did not give it a second thought once my heart was set on the subject," Sawan tells us.
When I start earning from writing, it will be my priority. Till then, I need to do something to earn
Sawan Lalchandani, author
So, January of last year, Sawan started creating a fictitious world of politics in Tamil Nadu where Vellu thai, the ‘godmother of the state’, called the shots. She hails from the prominent Bhupati family, known to have held power in Tamil Nadu for the longest time. The twist comes in when the question of who among her two sons will ascend the throne, arises.
Covered up: The cover of Sawan Lalchandani's novel
After taking about eight and a half months to weave this story, Chennai-based Notion Press came on board as the publisher and offered their suggestions. "Especially in names and certain scenes," says Sawan, explaining how the name of his protagonist went from Vellu amma to Vellu thai just to ward off any speculations of similarity between the fictitious character and the beloved matriarch. "Just to be on the safe side, I stayed away from anything that might stir a controversy," he explains.
State of mind: If Sawan's debut book takes off the way he hopes it does, he plans to base his next in (former) Andhra Pradesh
One thing is for sure, Sawan makes no bones about the fact that in this day and age, passion needs to pay. But the BBA graduate from IBS Hyderabad, who is currently working as an assistant in the Commercial Purchase department at Prayagh Nutri Products Ltd, says, "It doesn't make sense if I keep writing, but my books don't sell." Even his parents would like him to pursue a steady job aside from writing, but that being said, they do not shy away from distributing their son's novel amongst their relatives. "But I keep telling them not to give away my books like that. I'd rather they buy them, you know," says Sawan. Spoken like a true Sindhi we say and he laughs.
Get the book here: http://amzn.to/2xkRo01