Corporate Novels: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Mr R Gopalakrishnan of the Tata Group recently did this story on Corporate Novels for the Economic Times. The article is a great recall of all the “Corporate Novels” that have been written in recent times. In this story called Mixing Business With Pleasure, they have traced authors from corporate India who have penned their novels with stories that somewhere resonate with their experiences. While it is fiction, almost all of them have perhaps been triggered off by some incident or character(s) they have encountered for real. This probably is the formula for realistic fiction that the readers have appreciated generously as well as the sales figures of all these novels will vouch for. I feel honored that Mr Gopalakrishnan is aware of my novels – but I will feel better if I know that he read them as well. Do you think he has?

Is Fidelity Outdated

Is Fidelity Outdated? When you ask such a question on Valentine’s Day, it tends to grab attention. Anuradha Verma of The Times of India. Pritish Nandy, Suchitra Krishnamurthy, Rupa Ganguly have all shared their views. Columnist and film maker Pritish Nandy says, “Fidelity is not the issue. Has never been. What is at issue is fidelity on demand. You cannot get fidelity on demand in a marriage or any other relationship for that matter. People are faithful when they love someone enough to give up every other option, every other choice. And trust me, despite the contempt with which it is treated by many people today, fidelity is still pretty much common. It is not that impossibility which we think it is.”

Interview on mybangalore.com

I moved to Bangalore last October. To be interviewed for the city’s website mybangalore.com was the equivalent of the neighbors peeking over the fence to check how you are settling in. It just feels good. That is just how I felt when Dhanusha Gokulan spoke to me. To be counted on as a Bangalorean felt good. The conversation was free flowing – from books to my meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, India. Just what was it like to meet His Holiness, she had asked. The fact that you do not know what to say to someone of his stature. Seriously, can you think of one really smart question to ask?

Married But Available and The Hindu

And so, Bhaduri’s hero, Abbey passes out of IIM, Jamshedpur, gets into Balwanpur Industries, works at the township, chafes at the fishbowl existence he has to live there out of necessity, marries, gets estranged from, romances a woman or two, and slowly climbs up the corporate ladder. There is no discernible line of wit in the book; at best it is a collection of puerile jokes; the IIM gang comprises the usual suspects; the career climb is predictable, the women all coalesce into one another, come and go without leaving much impact. So what is the leavening factor in this ‘MBA’, a tenuous title at best? It’s lessons learned on the job which Abbey/Bhaduri imparts in a chatty tone that loses no relevance in the telling.

Human Resource/Human Capital Practice/Personnel Management, whatever the term du jour is, it’s a fast moving track, creative and exciting, a track where you think as you run. To that extent, Bhaduri’s case histories with their solutions, make for interesting reading. The way Abbey handles the enforced VRS scheme initiated by the MNC that takes over Balwanpur Industries, is both informative and entertaining.

Quill and Canvas

There is a quaint little bookstore in Gurgaon, India called Quills and Canvas run by Shobha Sengupta and her husband Vivek. It is what you would expect your own cosy attic to be. Cramped but cosy, full of books of all genres, paintings by contemporary artists all existing cheek by jowl. I remember going there for a panel discussion with Sankarshan Thakur of Tehelka (http://www.tehelka.com/) the magazine that is credited with some sensational exposes, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (media person and economist) and Amit Baruah is the Foreign Editor of Hindustan Times.

The 6Bridges Interview

We have all heard about being separated from each other by 6 degrees of separation. With some people you wish the degrees of separation would be 600 instead and less than six for the ones you are desperate to meet. The group that started the website at 6bridges.com (their byline says it is “An exclusive global community of Indian Professionals”) did it to connect Indian professionals across the globe. The site focuses on 6 key areas (another six) : Career growth, entrepreneurship, Re-skilling, money management, leisure and professional networking. We got chatting about this and that. Let us cross the 6bridges.

Corporate Novels

Abhijit Bhaduri, Human Resources (HR) director of Microsoft India, has chosen to spin his novels around the HR profession rather than any particular industry. A graduate of XLRI, Bhaduri set his first novel, Mediocre But Arrogant, in the ‘Management Institute of Jamshedpur’ , from where his hero graduates to land his first job in HR.

His second book, Married But Available is about the protagonist’s early years in Balwanpur Industries, an Indian company that’s been taken over by a multinational. The book is sprinkled with HR gyan and Bhaduri, who has worked with Tata Steel, Colgate and Pepsico, says it gives his characters credibility: “The professional and personal lives of my characters aren’t separate, they’re wholly meshed.”

Who Wants a Piece of SlumdogM

The euphoria of Oscars in India is still there as a lingering hangover. Everyone is basking in reflected glory – even me. I had predicted two Oscars for AR Rahman in my review of Slumdog Millionaire (see comment dated 8th Feb 09). So there… but the one that takes the cake is the ruling party in India taking credit for the Oscars. I kind of partly support their claim to fame. They are certainly responsible for our slums and the millionaire politicians.

Beyond B-schools

Dil Chahata Hai changed everything. The movie not only proved that Aamir Khan-with the right haircut and the facial hair-can believably pass for a 25-something, but also that the young in their eccentricity have their own vocabulary. The DCH moment opened up doors for writers and film directors to finally use personal experiences to tell India’s urban story.

Thoroughly Enjoyable – Deccan Herald

Despite the limitations of the genre that allows but sketchy characterization, some of the characters stay with you even after the book is read. Rascal Rusty with his out-of-the box pearls of wisdom, Captain Sobti with his sage perspicacity and Father Hathaway with his benevolent advice. Then there’s loony Keya, spoilt Ayesha and trade union leader Arai.

Women Read More Fiction Than Men

You may however be left with this vague feeling that this is more of a guy’s book rather than a gal’s. If writings of women about and for women that are also read by men are called Chick Lit, what would writings of men about and for men that are also read by women be called? In a way, Abhijit Bhaduri and his ilk may have spawned this new genre of Indian fiction. Can we call it Guy Lit for want of a better term?

Writing In The Time Of Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is here with Facebook, Orkut, Twitter ets defining the day for many. It may not be mainstream yet, but it has certainly added a two way collaboration possibility to the erstwhile one way process of writing. It builds a relationship between the author and the reader before, during and after the process of writing. Can a best selling novel be written on Facebook? Can a novel have 1500 authors? Neha Tara Mehta of Mail Today newspaper writes about all this and more on 28 Dec 2008.