When an IIM graduate, now a software developer turns first time author, one might want to pass it off as just another sundry book amidst a sea of others. But Vidyut Kapur’s self published novel Watch It Turn touches the soul in many ways. While some will like the philosophical insights woven into its simple storyline of a soul-searching quest, others will find it unputdownable and easy to read, relating to the interesting characters and might want to plunge in headlong, finishing it in one go. We speak to Bangalore-based Vidyut Kapur on how he turned towards writing, his idea behind penning the book and the challenges he faced.
- Please describe your student and professional career in brief.
I spent the first 20 years of my life in Delhi. After schooling in St. Xavier’s and Delhi Public School (R.K.Puram), I went on to do my graduation at Hindu College. I finally completed my formal education with an MBA from IIM, Calcutta in 1991. After my studies, I joined this fledgling industry called software in, what was then known as India’s retirement capital, Bangalore. It sounds strange today, but at that time, I had to justify my decision to many well-wishers. But soon after I started working Bangalore’s software boom began and it was really exciting to be a part of that mad ride from its beginning. After the turn of the millennium, when the pace of work slowed down with the slowdown in industry growth, I took my first break. When I went back to work, I worked in a start-up for a few years and then began working as an independent consultant for small companies trying to develop software products. Given this history, it is no surprise that Watch It Turn is set in Delhi and Bangalore.
- How did the idea of penning this book -Watch It Turn come about?
I wanted to write a novel which would be primarily about one person’s spiritual quest. Along with that I also wanted the protagonist to be a “normal” human being, someone most of us can relate to. I wanted to reduce the gap between the readers and the protagonist. Wouldn’t it be great if readers felt that they could easily be Gautam? Given this objective, the story of a spiritual quest set in modern, urban India was a very logical choice for me. A story set in an exotic, far-away land or in a romantic, bygone era would not have achieved the same effect. Another theme I wanted to explore was that a spiritual quest which begins after three or four decades of life, could not have arisen out of a vacuum. We are the product of all our experiences and actions. Whenever curiosity and determination arise in us, they are not born of just our immediate stimuli. Our adolescent experiences, our professional careers, our family and social lives – all of these together have led to our current endeavours. The best way to convey this was to make Gautam go through a complete life before he begins his spiritual quest.
- How much of it is fiction and how much of it is inspired from your real life?
All the social and economic backdrops are real. Delhi in the eighties, Bengaluru after that, the rise of the Indian software industry – these are the places and times I am familiar with. But the characters are all fictitous. Gautam, Tapan, Sandhya, Ajja and everyone else is not real. Even Exigon is fictional, though you could easily mistake it for any of the Indian software companies which came up in those years.
- What were some of the challenges that came your way while writing this book? How did you overcome them?
Quite frankly, when I started writing this book, I was not even sure I would finish it. There were several times when I did not write for a few weeks or months. I finally began to believe that I would finish the novel when it was half written. Initially, the writing wasn’t so good either. Some of the initial chapters were written and rewritten a dozen times. How to write good dialogue, how to use events to build a character, how to make a description interesting – these are skills which I did not know as well as I initially thought I did. And it was important to get them right, or at least better than they initially were. After all, “Watch It Turn” is not an action packed murder mystery. It has everyday characters whose lives are very recognisable. If, as a writer, I cannot present a surprising insight or two, then the reader will just find these scenes boring. This was perhaps the biggest challenge during the writing – how to take the commonplace and make the reader see it with fresh eyes.
- What are your other passions?
Between my consulting work, my reading and writing and my pretence at being a parent, I am as busy as I want to be.
Watch it Turn: “The job of this world is to turn and you must learn to just watch it turn.” Before Gautam Singh could hear and understand those words, he had to live a whole life. A life filled with friendship, love, success and betrayal. A life which culminated in a spiritual quest which finally taught him the meaning of all those things. A life which, though it is lived in the big cities of modern India, is best seen through the lens of ancient Indian thought.