Friday, June 13, 2014

A bit more about OSTSTL (Once smitten, twice shy, thrice lucky)...

Now that my debut novel titled ‘Once smitten, twice shy, thrice lucky’ is out for sale, people have started asking me a lot of questions. But there is one question which has stuck to me and the answer to which, I haven’t been able to give so far. But, now I think the time is just right.

What made me write this story?

To begin with, I started off with this script in the second half of 2011. Back then, I was angry, frustrated at my inability to do things that made me happy. In other words, I was undergoing an identity crisis – ironically it is something, I shouldn’t have after passing out as an MBA graduate from IIMA. My life had changed completely and I was financially independent. But I continued to feel a void inside me, which I couldn’t attribute to anything specific and that made matters worse. And if you are wondering how something like this could happen to someone, then either you are plain lucky or not have gone through the inflection point called ‘Quarter-life crisis’.

So, at that stage, one fine day, I just started writing. And this process continued uninterrupted for about three straight months. I transformed in those three months for the process itself had a therapeutic effect on me. I had a story, I long wanted to write. Though, the outline of the story was based partly on real experiences, I had to fictionalise it. That was one challenge, I loved.

If you ask me if there was anything specific or tangible that acted as a trigger before I decided to be an author; yes, there is. Writing allows me to visualise and shape characters I have always loved. Writing allows me to set stories that I have always wanted to be a part of. So, when I write, I invest a small emotional part of me in it, something that hopefully makes me different from the rest.

In this case, the story of Varun was something that I wanted others to be a part of. It’s not every day that an MBA from IIMA decides to shift gears and go for a supposedly offbeat career that actually makes him/her happy. Varun is that guy, who eventually becomes a photo-journalist. But what makes him do so? That is essentially the crux of Once smitten, twice shy, thrice lucky.

If you think OSTSTL is just another love story, then think again!

There are multiple layers to the story. Characters like M.C Aaliya, Sasha make a fleeting but a special appearance; either triggering an onset of an emotional roller-coaster tsunami or making Varun realise the importance of being alive and loved.

Quite a few scenes in the story revolve around socially pertinent issues like Corruption, Black money, AIDS etc. Look out for the part where Varun decides to take on a Machiavellian landlord and nail him down for his innumerable sins. Don’t expect Varun to be a super-hero when he does that though!

A brief sneak peek into the characters of OSTSTL...

I have tried to sketch characters, who are ordinary, like you and like me. So, I hope many of you are able to connect or relate to how the characters behave and act in response to a given situation.

Meera – Varun’s sister. She’s Varun’s sounding board. Intelligent and way more mature than her age. Is a banker. When she says, ‘I know you are one hopeless romantic,’ she reads her brother like no one else.

Rekha – A fashion designer, she’s Varun’s best friend, who doesn’t shy away from chiding Varun when he has acted stupidly or done something not expected of him (which Varun does quite a few times!)

Satish – Rekha’s husband. He’s Varun’s partner-in-crime in college and his other best friend. Satish is probably the only one who gets Varun when no one does.

Vishu – She falls madly in love with Varun and so does he. But she doesn’t acknowledge the same for reasons Varun refuses to comprehend. She’s the ‘Once smitten’ part of Varun’s life, who returns back into his life as a good friend.

Nancy – Varun and Nancy share a special bond. A special bond that Varun shies away from labelling it as love. Nancy though after a bitter turn of unintended events, decides to walk away from Varun’s life. Destiny brings them together though, yet again.

Lahari – A neuro-surgeon who brings back Varun from the brink of certain death. Her presence changes Varun’s life for the better. But she has a rather violent past that Varun has to embrace.

Zamindar – He’s the villain!

Kishore Naidu – Vishu’s father. A caste obsessed politician and someone who Vishu abhors. He’s the other villain!

Shivaiah – Lahari’s guardian, he’s the one who brings Lahari up as his own daughter and helps Varun plot the downfall of Zamindar.

Artists crave appreciation for they toil hard to bring alive their figments of imagination. In a sense, I too am an artist. An applause or a pat on the back is something I am never tired of. So, if you find that Once smitten, twice shy, thrice lucky has in some way or the other made you sit back and contemplate on your life, inspired you to fight for what is right or made you realise that true love is all about trust, then don’t forget to share your thoughts and give your rating for this book on Goodreads.

I would also appreciate a constructive feedback on how I could improve in my quest to becoming a better storyteller.

For more details, please visit the official facebook page.

Sandeep Kothapalli