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From same IIT Delhi room springs another writer

Monday February 20, 2012 10:15:21 AM, Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS

New Delhi: It might just be haunted by the ghost of a writer! For, NB 24 at Kumaon Hostel of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is the very room that planted the writing bug in two 'old boys' - popular mass fiction writer Chetan Bhagat and his senior S.V. Divvaakar.

Divvaakar, a mechanical engineer and business consultant, is walking on Bhagat's trail with his first work of IIT fiction, "The Winner's Price: Life Beyond the Campus", a tech-thriller about five IITians.

"This is a coincidence. But we - Bhagat and I - lived in the same room at IIT Delhi's Kumaon Hostel NB 24. I was senior to Bhagat by a few years and inhabited the room before him," Divvaakar told IANS.

His book adds to the growing kitty of IIT books by students of the institute that took off with Bhagat's "Five Point Someone" eight years ago and is fast becoming an independent genre of popular fiction.

It sparked a near flood of IIT titles like Tushar Raheja's "Anything for You, Ma'am", Neeraj Chibba's "Zero Percantile: Missed IIT, Kissed Russia", Amitabha Bagchi's "Above Average" and Suman Hossain's "A Guy Thing...A Magical Love Story of an IITian" and Saumil Shrivastava's "A Roller Coaster Ride - When An IITian Met a Bitsian Girl".

Now comes "The Winner's Price". To be released Feb 24 is also the first fiction from Konark Publishers, known for its non-fiction titles.

The book packs in social commitment and a mystery, the writer said.

Five friends, Harsh, Rocky, Armani, Ravi and Kamal meet 25 years after graduating from the institute at the reunion party to recap. Memories lead to the present and the friends find themselves discussing the present state of affairs at IIT and Anna Hazare's anti-corruption drive. The narrative takes off after the Lokpal Bill is passed because of excellent floor management and a scramble to implement transparency law begins.

The friends suddenly realise that they have a transparency issue to settle among themselves and every victory exacts a price, Divvakaar said. The story travels across three locales - India, Dubai and California.

"I have explored the Karnataka mining scam in the book and have commented how union minister Kapil Sibal's proposal to scrap the JEE entrance test and merge it with school results could draw less meritorious students to the IIT campus. The JEE entrance is one of the toughest entrance tests in the country and it was independent of school results," Divvaakar said.

The writer said, "The IIT coaching industry was estimated around Rs.10,000 crore annually."

An independent musician, Divvaakar has composed a song, "Ai Ai yo..." for the cinematic adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's "Two States" and has sent it to filmmaker Karan Johar.

"The jingle features Chetan in its opening lyrics," said the writer, a 1982 graduate.

Divvaakar had earlier composed hymns for the Commonwealth Games and "100 years of Delhi" which was played in the PVRs and on Doordarshan. He had cut an album for Sony-CBS in 1982 after meeting (late) composer Salil Chowdhury's son, who composed one of the tracks.

"I am working on my second book, 'Getting Mom Married', about widow re-marriage in the changing social context of modern India," Divvaakar said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at









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