Ravi Subramanian: The banker-turned-bestselling writer tells us about his latest thriller
Bestselling author Ravi Subramanian's latest book In the Name of God is set in the Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Kerala and grips the reader with its twists.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram is the richest worship site in the world. Under the custody of the royal family of Travancore, the temple has six vaults out of which five were opened in 2011, as per a Supreme Court directive. The move came after an advocate filed a petition, asking for an inventory of the riches to be prepared.
While all this is ensuing, a dead body is found in the holy pond of the temple. Except that you can only trust Ravi Subramanian, nine-time bestselling author to spin around a tale already shrouded in mystery and make it into a chilling account titled In The Name of God.
“What if people had started dying during the audit? Everyone would think it has something to do with the Maharaja who does not want the inspection to be carried out. I found this very interesting,” explains Subramanian, on being asked about the genesis of his thriller. The Maharaja has not read his story yet, but he hopes he does.
Known for his banking thrillers, Swamy calls this book an ‘experiment’ as this is the first time he has penned a full-blown thriller. Thrillers are particularly tricky to write because what might keep one guessing could be the next obvious thing for another. Giving a unique vantage point to the mind of a thriller writer, Subramaniam says, “Even after 90 percent of the book was written, I still didn’t know who the killer was.” Clearly, the storyteller does not script the plot in his head before sitting down to put it on paper, an uncommon practice in a world of cliched plots.
Although the narrative of the story is set in various places — Kerala, Mumbai, even Dubai, the writer begins the story from a temple. Therefore, he had to read and re-read certain parts so as to “be respectful to all deities without conveying anything flippant.” One can’t help but connect his discretion to the hostility that currently riddles the environment.
Recently, the rights of his The Bestseller She Wrote book were bought by a popular production house. Now the Hindi film industry has longstanding habit of melodramatising serious plots. Ask him about how comfortable he is with the filmmaker taking ‘creative liberties’ and he immediately says, “Film rights should be treated like business. Don’t be emotional. Take your money and scoot.” As if a banker turned thriller writer tag wasn’t rare enough, Subramanian also exhibits unusual pragmatism in his approach towards Bollywood.
There is no dearth of thriller films in India, however there is a palpable scarcity of writers in the country, despite everyone having a story to tell. Then what is keeping the storytellers from coming to the forefront and revamping the Indian literary scene? He considers himself lucky to have started writing at a time when people hadn’t caught on to online book-buying. In fact, all his contemporaries, who are the most known writers of the Indian literary space — Amish Tripathi, Anuja Chauhan, Chetan Bhagat among others, are from the era before e-commerce creeped in.
No matter how uncertain the future of Indian literature is now, Subramanian maintains that God was kind to him, after all he has his name in three of his books!