Sudeep Nagarkar has just unveiled his 10th love story, She Friend-Zoned my Love , and yet wouldn’t address himself as a romance writer. “What I write is a reflection of society and how the current generation works,” he says. There are many who claim writing love stories is easy. He finds it true only with the first novel. The challenges vary with every work — in portraying emotions, building characters and still be different with each story. “Technically you would find 10 different ways to propose from my books,” Sudeep laughs.
The author’s books emphasise on the journey more than the plot. He finds material for his stories through observation backed by adequate creative imagination. Sudeep believes nothing is fiction, everything is inspired from some source. “My initial books were inspired by the scenes I witnessed during my engineering days. Somewhere my stories are related to me, my friends, surroundings and society.”
Sudeep found the germ of his story for She Friend-Zoned my Love while he was scrolling through his Facebook/Instagram timelines. The love versus friend-zoning conflict interested him, most of his characters earlier were coming-of-age teens. “The social media is full of instances where life is explored through the eyes of girl/guy who’s getting friend-zoned. I felt the situation is equally difficult for the person who’s friend-zoning him/her. They too are denying their best friend and losing an opportunity to sustain warmth.” Sudeep’s story deals with two best friends Apurv and Amyra, how equations change when a third person enters the fray.
Sia’s character of an overweight girl posed some challenges for Sudeep. The difficulties of being bodyshamed, bullied and pressurised by parents at a marriageable age was something he experienced too. “Being fit is okay, but being obsessed with it and commenting on one’s physicality is unwarranted.” Apurv’s character too had him conscious, where he discusses presumptions associated with a guy — best friend. Does he offer solutions to the problems of his protagonists? “Not quite. Solutions can be tricky, I mostly direct readers to find deeper answers on their own.”
Each of Sudeep’s books have made him a better person, helping him deal with his problems better. He prefers his novels to have a feel-good quality and have an optimistic takeaway. He wouldn’t want to subscribe to market diktats though. “Even if I do and imagine what people will like, I’ll become very cautious. She Swiped Right Into my Heart talked about LGBT issues, I can’t be thinking if conservative people in smaller towns would have an issue reading it.”
He’s swarmed by reader feedback on social media, it doesn’t affect him but helps judge his abilities. “It’s tough to please everyone. The competition is more personal and in being confident of what you write.”
As a reader, he tucks into books beyond his pet genre and prefers reading thrillers and non-fiction. He awaits his novel to be adapted into a film sometime. “Who would not want that? Of course, I don’t want a reader to tell the book was better than the film. Writers should ideally have a bigger role to play in such instances, which doesn’t happen here.”
(Published by Penguin, She Friend-Zoned my Love, ₹ 199, is available online and in stores.)