Rajeev Saxena did his Bachelor of Technology from IIT Kanpur in 1994 and currently lives in Dallas, USA. His career in information technology with a large international company has provided him with opportunities to visit a multitude of cultures and countries. His travels reinforced his growing belief that many people everywhere struggle daily to meet basic needs that others take for granted. He eventually found his way to the metropolises in India, and then around the world with several IT companies. Places such as Barbados in the Caribbean, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mexico City in Mexico and Nassau in Bahamas reminded him the most of the country he grew up in. His book, Pinto has an Idea is a tale of Dr Pinto, a small-town boy, an IITian and a scientist working in MIT, who suddenly experiences a life-changing revelation in the early days of his research, throwing away his work on theoretical physics and setting out to solve the practical everyday problems of the world he lives in. Here’s a quick chat with the debut author.
1. What is ‘Pinto has an Idea’ all about?
There is no money in being a scientist,’ Pinto’s mother advises him. ‘So it’s better that you become an engineer or a doctor.’ Young Pinto has from his childhood been an out-of-the-box thinker, finding solutions in his everyday surroundings to a myriad ancient global problems. The certain machine he invents in his childhood makes him a hero in his village but it’s not sufficient to change the mindset of naysayers for Pinto to pursue his career in hardcore science. Pinto Has an Idea is the tale of Dr. Pinto, a small-town boy, an IITian and a scientist working in MIT, who suddenly experiences a life-changing revelation in the early days of his research, throwing away his work on theoretical physics and setting out to solve the practical everyday problems of the world he lives in. Returning to his native India, he finds his noble quest beset by unexpected adversaries, obstacles and trials, but emerges triumphant from each battle. Pinto does not like to appear a romantic person, and keeps women at bay. But when Lavanya returns to haunt his life, and eventually shoe-horns him into marriage, he obligingly falls in love. Because Lavanya is not just a pretty face, she’s his partner in research. And Pinto, a newbie in romance, discovers a whole new craze. But then suddenly life takes a surprise turn. Pinto finds a mechanism to eradicate corruption from the country and in that process joins politics. That creates an irrepairable damage in their marriage. I’d not break the curiosity by telling you the entire story. But in a nutshell, it’s a humorous entertaining novel with a positive message to the youth. Bollywood superstar Sridevi says, ‘…I hope the author writes a series based on Pinto.’
2. Tell us about your writing process. How long did it take you to write the book?
It took me around 2.5 years to write the whole book. I got time to write only on weekends. In addition to having a solid story, it also talks about several innovative ideas. The thought process takes time. I believe in perfection so I’ve re-written some pieces several times to improve the overall story. There are always some commercial restrictions as well. You cannot write a book which is too thin or too thick. One has to strike a right balance and that process also takes some time. As a first time author there are several distractions as well, for instance, while you are half-way through your writing, you’d suddenly start finding a publisher. I keep thinking about thoughts and ideas. Whenever something new comes to my mind, I’d make a note somewhere quickly and then later expand it in the form of a passage. Though I have a broad picture of my characters in my mind, it keeps changing as the book takes shape.
3. How much research has gone into the book?
As the name suggests, the book is about ideas so topics needed a thorough research. Still it’s fiction. It’s not meant for education. Ideas are original but research was primarily needed to perform fact checking. Though I have been a science student, I spent significant time in understating what a thought process our scientists have. What kind of love life they have? And how an idea takes shape in their mind?
4. How did you find inspiration for the different people and voices in ‘Pinto has an Idea’?
Though Pinto is a fictional character, it could be a real one. People like him do exists in our society. Similarly Lavanya is also very close to reality…a woman who is extremely in love with his husband but does not compromise with his values. She is also a little stubborn and becomes a little jealous when her husband gets all the limelight. We have seen doctors, engineers, actors, politicians, criminals and gangsters as main characters of novels, but hardly scientists who are such an integral and critical part of our society, are the part of romantic novel. This is a small effort to bring awareness about scientists in our society. It’s also an attempt to encourage people to embrace technology as much as they can as technology could be a solution pretty much to everything. I hope it creates a new trend in the industry as Dr. Sandeep Pandey says, ‘Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter…’
5. What do you think is needed to keep the smartphone generation interested in stories?
It’s a genuine worry. But to my surprise things are not that bad as they could be. We have several new writers who have received a lot of name and fame. They are heroes for young generation. There is a significant portion of young population who is still very much interested in book reading. The only change is that some of them have moved to digital edition as they are using smartphones. I think in this era, readers don’t have a lot of time. They love creativity but want a message or thought to be conveyed concisely and precisely. As everybody is very busy and stressed out, entertainment component in a book is very important as well. Even if a book needs to give a heavy and serious message, it should be done in a humorous and casual fashion. One more thing…I’ve noticed that smartphones have created a significant mass of people who have started using English for communication even if they are not well-versed with English language. This is the new market for English books. If books are written in simple English, they attract both regular book readers as well as these new ones. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.