Millennium Post

Made for Bollywood

Vikas Swarup’s The Seven Tests of Sapna Sinha and Shauna Singh Baldwin’s The Selector of Souls are readymade scripts. Are the directors reading?

Diplomat Vikas Swarup, whose novel Q&A was adapted into the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, has worked on another Bollywood-ish social thriller in which a young woman gets the chance to run a billionaire’s company provided she passes a series of seven tests.

‘My new novel is also a 'social thriller' but different from Q&A in the sense that the protagonist is a woman. Moreover, she is definitely middle class compared to the underclass in Q&A
,’ says Swarup, currently the Consul General of India in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

He says the format of his new book The Seven Tests of Sapna Sinha may look similar to Q&A because ‘this is also a high concept character driven story which also seeks to capture the Zeitgeist of our times’.

The book is being published by Simon & Schuster, which has also signed another big name in the world of international publishing Shauna Singh Baldwin.

‘My real strength is in telling a story and that is what I have done in The Seven Tests of Sapna Sinha - told a story, hopefully a gripping, suspenseful and entertaining one,’ Swarup says of his new novel which is set in contemporary India.

Its narrator is a young woman, Sapna Sinha, who out of the blue is offered, by the eccentric billionaire, the chance to run his company, provided she passes a series of seven tests. According to the publisher, The Seven Tests of Sapna Sinha can be described as a female version of Q&A, a fantastical work of Bollywood story-telling, where there is a logic to the most improbable twists in the lives of a wonderful cast of characters against an Indian background that comes roaring to life, which tell a fantastic story full of the sights and smells and contrasts of New Delhi, with a central character you are rooting for from the start.

On the other hand, The Selector of Souls is a richly imagined and fierce new novel by award-winning author Baldwin. Set in India, it begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we’re in the mid-ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child, a baby girl, and the act that follows – the huge sacrifice made by Damini, the baby’s grandmother, out of love for her daughter – haunts the novel.

Says Rahul Srivastava, director (sales & marketing), Simon & Schuster India, ‘We are very thrilled to publish internationally acclaimed authors – Vikas Swarup and Shauna Singh Baldwin under S&S India umbrella. This is the foundation for a strong Indian list of the future.’

Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, took the world by storm, winning more than 70 awards including four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs and a staggering eight Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Swarup’s second novel, Six Suspects has been optioned for a film by the BBC and Starfield productions and John Hodge, who wrote the script for films like Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and The Beach, has been commissioned to write the screenplay.

Baldwin was born in Montreal, grew up in India, and lives in the US. She is the author of two bestselling novels and two short story collections. The Tiger Claw, her second novel, was a finalist for the Giller Prize in 2004 and a Canadian bestseller.
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