Mixing business with pleasure isn’t always what the doctor orders. But businessman-turned-author Ashwin Sanghi does what he pleases, and he does it well. Entrepreneur by profession but writer by passion, Sanghi has so far written four thriller novels and even one self-help book. And his fifth fictional outing, The Sialkot Saga, is the perfect mix of the businessman in him as well as the storyteller.
“I have wanted to write a book that involved the world of Indian business for the longest time,” Ashwin says, and adds, “I wanted to set this business story against the backdrop of post-independence India. The problem was that the project was so vast in scope and ambition that other projects kept coming in the way. As a result, completion of this book got held up on several occasions.”
Known for mixing and matching historical totems in urban settings, Sanghi has been a part of Indian literary movement — that includes fellow author Amish Tripathi — that has made mythology and history relevant for today’s readers. “I see the present as a function of the past. I also tend to see mythology as a function of history. Some of our most popular and enduring myths were probably based on real historical figures. I find that if we can find a way to package history and mythology in a manner that relates to our younger generation then it becomes relevant,” he explains.
His newest book is no different: a thriller that jumps from one setting to another within the same timeline, but mainly focusing on two characters — a thief and businessman — around the time of the Partition of India, looking for success and stumbling upon a revelation that has been kept secret for centuries. “I love the idea that there are no villains or heroes. Only human beings, some a little better or worse than others around them. I am like that — a bundle of contradictions and I think most human beings are like that,” Sanghi says.
Sanghi has also collaborated with noted author James Patterson. “Working with James has been a refreshing experience. My focus has always been on research while the Patterson formula is pace and plot. Private India has given us a chance to combine our respective strengths.”
About the boom of modern Indian literature’s schtick of mythology, chick-lits and crime, Ashwin says that authors need to thank one particular writer for creating space for their own works to flourish — Chetan Bhagat. “You may love or hate his writing but you simply cannot ignore the fact that he created a market for commercial fiction writing in the English language,” Ashwin explains.
Sanghi also believes that he’s a storyteller more than a writer, something that explains why Indian authors have also now begun to explore other forms of retelling their books through movies and even television series — “The only book of mine that is currently optioned for a film is The Krishna Key. Stories can be narrated in different languages and mediums. Movies, video games, comic books, illustrated novels are all possibilities.”...