Books

Akash Verma lets his readers decide

No chapter in life completely comes to an end; the past has ways of leaching into the present, tainting the narrative. Sometimes its stain is unobtrusive, often it is hard to ignore.

The latter comes through in Only The Good Die Young, the sequel to Akash Verma’s earlier book, You Never Know. The novel follows the lives of protagonists Dhruv and Anuradha, two advertising professionals who part ways at the close of the first book.

Akash Verma lets his readers decide

Akash says a casual chat with his editor asking him what would happen if the protagonists met again, brought about the second book. “However, it can be enjoyed as a standalone too,” says Akash Verma over phone from Gurgaon, adding he thought their story had concluded with the previous book.

The underlying premise of both the books is an extramarital affair. “Extramarital affairs in most art forms, be it cinema or books, are usually portrayed in a very clichéd manner and I wanted to approach it with more sensitivity. The seed of this story has been with me ever since I saw Gulzaar’s Ijaazat as a young boy,” says the author, who turns 50 this year.

“While it is easy to take the moral high ground, it can happen to anyone and sometimes an affair is not just a physical attraction, but an emotional bond between two people.”

Akash, whose works are usually centred around thrillers, says many people were surprised by his choice of topic. “As a writer I believe in presenting a story and letting the reader decide, instead of foisting my opinions on them. I leave it to the reader to decide if such relationships have love and emotion or are of just a physical nature.”

Akash admits many families have been scarred by such incidents, but adds, “My point is that as a writer, you have to tread with fearlessness — your writing won’t please readers all the time.”

“None of us are black or white, we have shades of grey. Whether we like it or not, we are all victims of our circumstances and what may seem absolutely right in one situation for me, could be deemed wrong by an onlooker. I believe all the actions we take are in grey areas.”

“I wanted to write a story with conflicting human relationships and vulnerable, grey people. That is why all the characters in this book, including the protagonists reflect that state.”

“There is nothing simple about walking away from an emotional investment; that is the irony of relationships,” he says.

Akash Verma lets his readers decide

Discussing his sensitive portrayal of the women in Only the Good Die Young, Akash says, “I can never think like a woman, neither can I draw an inference about how they process the most private of thoughts. However, as a writer, you tend to observe people and their reactions. And I also look at the characters as individuals instead of male or female.”

“I don’t think a woman would think very differently from a man in some situations. I feel most people react in a certain way in a given situation and not as a man or a woman. That is why I choose to look at the character while shaping their actions.”

As always, the geographical and technological aspects of Akash’s work are well researched, but what stands out is his portrayal of warring emotions within one’s self. Whether it is the protagonist’s battle with his conscience or a mental juggling of pros and cons, readers will relate to the constant conversation that runs in everyone’s minds.

Akash, whose next manuscript is ready, says he writes everyday, “Else you lose your continuity, especially when it comes to thrillers.”

Published by Penguin, Only the Good Die Young by Akash Verma is available online and in book stores.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 4:55:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/akash-verma-lets-his-readers-decide/article34614440.ece

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