Paritosh Uttam is a software engineer by profession but has also forayed into literature. His novel ‘Dreams in Prussian Blue’ published by Penguin India was also adapted into a Malyalam film.
NAW- How long have you been writing? What made you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
I was hooked to reading from childhood. In my 9th grade, an article of mine was published in the children section of The Hindu. I got a lot of appreciation for that, and that led me to think that what I write can become a matter of interest to others. So it was a natural progression for me to think about writing sooner or later, though I began to take it more seriously in my twenties.
NAW- Tell us about your book, ‘Dreams in Prussian Blue.’How did you get the idea for the book? It has also been developed into a film, right?
Dreams in Prussian Blue was actually a short story of mine, that I developed into a novel. It’s been a long time since I wrote the short story, so I don’t quite remember how the idea germinated. But the core piece of the plot always was the incongruity of a blind man creating something in a visual medium. Everything else developed around that bit.
Yes, Dreams in Prussian Blue has been adapted into a Malayalam film titled ‘Artist’ by acclaimed director Shyamaprasad. I liked the director’s treatment of the story. The film won the best director and actress awards at the Kerala State Film Awards this year.
NAW- What’s with the subtitle of the book, ‘when loves kills’? Did the editor not point out that it is incorrect grammatically?
You seem to have got hold of a unique copy. Every copy that I have seen has the tagline ‘when love kills’.Anyway, if it were left to me, I would not have added any subtitle/tagline on the cover. It was an editorial decision.
NAW- Any plans to write a sequel?
No. The thought has never struck me, to be honest.
NAW- Did you base the protagonist on Howard Roark, Fountainhead?
You could say, partly, in the sense that Michael considers himself an uncompromising artist. But he is also selfish and self-centred. I have read about geniuses in real life who have been cruel to the ones closest to them. I tried to make that facet a part of Michael’s character too.
NAW- Did you face any trouble while publishing your first book? How did your first book get published?
Actually, Dreams in Prussian blue is not the first book I have written, though it is the first to be published. I was pitching the other book to different publishers. The commissioning editor at Penguin was not ready to accept it, though she liked my writing. On my request, she looked at my short stories on my website, of which Dreams in Prussian blue was one. She liked it, and asked me if I was prepared to develop it into a novel that she could publish as part of the new Metro Reads series that Penguin was bringing out. I agreed, and about a year later, that’s how Dreams in Prussian blue, the novel, came about.
NAW- What research did you carry out? Were you familiar with painting beforehand or you researched it?
No, I hardly know painting myself. I researched a lot on the internet to get familiar with the techniques, paints and equipment. I also talked to a couple of artists.
NAW- What do you do when you are not writing?
I am a software engineer by profession. That is what earns me my bread-and-butter, not writing!
NAW- Please name the authors who have influenced you.
I try not to let my writing be influenced by the writers I admire, though I wish I could write like them. Like V. S. Naipaul, Dostoevsky, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and many others.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
There is one, to do with a TV reality show, that is stuck with the publishers currently. Also, I am rewriting my first one, to make it more ‘publish-able’.