Updated: November 14, 2012 20:15 IST

Fast and furious

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A light read Is how Padman describes his page-turner.
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A light read Is how Padman describes his page-turner.

Mohan C. Padman says his debut novel Incense and Serendipity was written for the movie screen

Though it’s not quite Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, neither does Mohan C Padman want it to be. The author of Incense and Serendipity (Rs 295) describes his approach to his debut novel saying, “It was written for the movie screen. I didn’t want to drag it out like a long drawn out literary read. It’s a light read. I think many novelists are very patronising with ponderous sentences. Language is for communicating, not showing off.”

The book centres around the flight of the protagonist Rajan, from war torn Sri Lanka to London and his efforts to put together enough money to bring his fiancée Susanthy there after him, while his agent Vinod plots to steal Susanthy for himself.

Padman who began his career as a lecturer in English Literature at Christ University in Bangalore, and then spent a few years in England, Iran and Libya teaching English, says he wants the book promoted as a textbook in high schools so children are exposed to the issues he deals with. “The book deals with sexism, racism and equal rights, in a light way to generate awareness on them. People are not aware of how to accept it when foreigners migrate to their country.”

Padman says the book is not based on his personal experiences in Iran and Libya, though he did face a lot of discrimination when he arrived in London in the 70s. Rather, the book picks up from the accounts of families who arrived in London as refugees from war torn countries.

“In the title, the word incense refers to the temple scenes involving Rajan and Susanthy unfolding at the beginning and end of the book, while the word serendipity has two facets to it. Serendipity means ‘finding interesting or valuable things by luck.’ Also, Serendip was an old name for Sri Lanka before it was Ceylon,” says Padman.

All humans have the same attitude and reactions all over the world, believes Padman saying, “Ninety per cent of the population are just normal people, who want to live normal lives. We have to learn to understand better, get along better, and allow barriers to break down and countries to get along.”

At a time when the world is going crazy over the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, Padman has a James Bond connection. He met Milton Reid who appeared in two James Bond films. Reid played Dr. No’s henchman in the 1962 film and also fights Roger Moore on the rooftop in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Padman is now working on his next novel set in Libya during the Gadaffi era, based on his experiences there.

Reid appeared in two official James Bond movies as Dr. No's Guard in Dr. No (1962) and as Sandor, Roger Moore's opponent in a roof top fight in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Padman is now working on his next novel set in Libya during the Gadaffi era, based on his experiences there. Incense and Serendipity is available online on Amazon and

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