Sunday, 8 August 2010


Colour of a relationship... this may have been the headline above. In fact, as Paritosh Uttam confirms, Dreams in Prussian Blue — his first published novel, is “primarily about relationship though it deals with the art world and the perspective of a painter”. And colour remains an integral part of it all — be it on the canvas, or in the minds of the protagonist Naina and her partner Michael, the painter.

Why Prussian Blue? “It could have been any colour, preferably a darker shade. But Prussian Blue had a mysterious tone to it, and blues and dark moods go together,” Uttam explains to me. “That was the title of my short story too (from which the novel evolved), and we stuck to it as a working title. Later, the editor also liked the title and suggested not changing it,” he adds.

Uttam is a software engineer by profession. But he is in his elements as an avid reader; writing follows as a natural corollary to it. However, unlike the hyped techie-turned-authors, who thrive on their experiences in some engineering college or in some outsourcing unit, Uttam “consciously decided not to get typecast as another IIT grad-turned-writer”.

But didn’t he ever get tempted to put in few things of the ‘techie world’ in his writings? Uttam pauses before replying. “Well, I have an unpublished novel where I have written about the ‘techie world’,” he admits. “But I don’t think that my experiences as an IIT-grad or a software engineer can be interesting to a reader,” he says candidly.

The novel sees how Naina supports Michael’s passion for painting; she has to sacrifice a lot — financially, emotionally and physically. I ask Uttam about how he deals with such characters while creating them. “I prefer to write from one character’s point of view... about his or her psychological motivation,” he explains. “Along with it comes the plot and a dash of X factor,” he adds. But is an ‘X factor’ necessary for a story? Uttam thinks, “a bit of it helps to keep the story moving... to keep the readers hooked through a fast-paced narrative”. He also thinks that a story must have a “lingering effect in the mind of the reader, even if there is no concrete finality to the story”.

According to him, ‘good literature’ is the one which has a balanced character-driven plot that is enriched with a writer’s style. “Good writing can be witty or evocative or profound, something that touches and affects you,” Uttam elaborates. “Writing about an ordinary subject in a different way, something that is special and yet you can identify with is also ‘good literature’.”

Talking about literary influences, Uttam mentions Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. “Among the modern writers, I love the works of Naipaul, and also the realistic fiction,” he says. “I love to read stories that move back and forth in time”.

Anything from the world of art or music that influences him? “Not so much. In fact, to write this novel I had to depend on the inputs from the artists and also did bit of research over the Internet,” he reveals. That research included studying the history of painting, the theories on colours and the like, I learn.

While his unpublished first novel is with an editor, Uttam is now busy writing. “I am planning a new novel,” he informs before we part.