Monday, August 01, 2016

He Swiped Right Into Our Hearts

Best-selling author Sudeep Nagarkar talks about his latest novel, as well as his writing career

Photo of Sudeep Nagarkar by Ratheesh Sundaram

By Shevlin Sebastian

Sudeep Nagarkar is feeling a bit groggy at mid-morning in Kochi. “That's because I had to get up at 3 a.m., to catch a flight,” says the Mumbai-based author. It is his first visit to the coastal city. But the news from the Penguin-Random House company representative is good.

His seventh and latest novel, 'She Swiped Right Into My Heart', is flying off the shelves. It is not surprising since Sudeep has an easy and engaging style, and readers tend to turn the pages swiftly.

In the novel, one of the lead characters is Geet, a nerdy girl, who gets teased mercilessly in college. The others include the beautiful Shibani, her introverted sister, Tushita, handsome Rudra and the sensitive Vivaan. Some of the themes Sudeep has tackled include friendship, romance, relationship-setbacks, inferiority feelings, and a complex sexuality.

My books have done well, because it connects with youngsters,” says the 28-year-old. “Though the theme of all seven books is romance, it is not an out-and-out love story. For example, in 'It Started With a Friend Request', I have tried to show, that, in today's Facebook world, we can make friends easily, but, at the same time, there is a chance of getting betrayed.”

But Sudeep's fans have remained steadfast. Sometime ago, an 18-year-old reader, Meeta (name changed), arrived at his home on his birthday, and gave him a gift. It was an eight-feet high calendar plus greeting card, in which Meeta had pasted 350 photos of Sudeep. “She had collected them from Google and my Facebook account,” he says. “It was an amazing gift, which is still hanging in my bedroom.”

Interestingly, he also has fans outside India. “My e-books are selling in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Dubai, Britain, and the US,” he says. “The paperbacks are sold only in India. I believe that one day the western world will accept our style. The major impediment is that romance, for them, remains erotica, while, for us, it is all about emotions. So, when I describe a bedroom scene I tend to portray it with feeling, rather than through technicalities.”

It has been an unlikely career trajectory for Sudeep. He had passed out from the Datta Meghe college of engineering in Navi Mumbai, followed by a MBA from the Welingkar Institute of Management. But problems on the relationship front made him turn to writing. And he discovered that he had a knack for it. Thus far, Sudeep has sold over a million copies, and that gave him the impetus to become a full-time writer in 2013.

Meanwhile, even as he is working on his novels, Sudeep is constantly communicating with his readers through Whatsapp, Facebook and text messages. “Readers want an interaction with the author,” he says. “So, it is important to reply.”

On an average, Sudeep gets about 250 messages daily. He admits that he does get overwhelmed at times. “But, at the same time, it is nice that people are showing appreciation,” he says. “The more you interact, the more you realise the flaws in your writing and you can make changes.”

In his earlier books, Sudeep would put in a lot of Hindi poems. But when people in South India told him they did not understand the language, he stopped using them. “I felt it to be a genuine criticism,” he says. “My aim is to keep improving all the time.”

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

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