I didn't say to myself that am going to find eight characters who are a demographic representation of India. India is an incredibly diverse country and I think you're not going to manage that, right?
If I were to say that I want one guy from Chhattisgarh and one guy from Kashmir...it's not going to happen that way, right?
Whatever you do, you're not going to represent India. I tried to be representative in a different way which is to capture this universal Indian experience now, which is this attempt to comprehend change, and to live through change.
I think change is something every Indian is feeling now. What's happening is wonderful, it's confusing and I wanted to capture that.
The other thing is that you need to find people who were willing to open up to you, to spend time with you because the book goes on for five years. It's not that I would walk in, do two interviews with them and then leave. They needed to be willing to let me into their lives, let me watch their lives unfold for five years. Not everybody is comfortable with that.
I talked to many more people than those mentioned in the book.
My characters were the people who let me into their lives, who opened up and let me be part of their lives. It's not easy to find people willing to do that. In that sense, it was pretty much a collaborative project.
Did you ever get the feeling that the people who you interviewed sometimes told you what you wanted to hear?
It's hard to tell... Maybe something like that happens in the first couple of interviews. But what happens in a book like this is that you spend so much time with these people that you get to know them really well. The act drops after a certain point.
You're used to each other's company. And remember, I wasn't interviewing them in vacuum, I was getting to know their lives, watching them and I was meeting people who knew them.
So if somebody were to outright lie to me, it would be easy for me to know that. It's human nature to exaggerate, but I don't think people could have misled me so much.
And all the interviews were done in Tamil?
No, mostly in English. The hardest interview was the scavengers’. They speak in a gypsy dialect which is very hard to understand.
I took somebody who speaks Tamil much better than me to help me and even he had trouble understanding what they were saying.
In Picture: Young Indians take part in a marathon 18-hour coding event in Bangalore on September 21, 2012.
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