Interview of Vikrant Dutta
Ode to Dignity
(A Novel in Ballads by Vikrant Dutta)
It is the maiden book by Vikrant Dutta, who is a defence officer by profession. Being, the first ever novel in rhymed ballads by an Indian writer in English, it is an experimental work, consisting 1645 lyrical ballads which soothe as they engage. It is for the second time a novel in verse has been published by an Indian writer, the first of this kind is by's The Golden Gate.
His interview is being taken by Dr Shamenaz, Associate Professor & Head, Deptt of Humanities, AIET, Allahabad.
Vikrant: I am an Air force officer and have worked for President Patil for 6 years. I did my schooling in Military School Belgaum and then joined the National Defence Academy.
Vikrant: Writing was never my passion or my hobby, but reading has been my hobby since my childhood. But I have always been appreciated for my writing since childhood, be it essays or letters I wrote to family and friends.
Vikrant: For Ode to Dignity I was inspired by Sage Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana and Vikram Seth who wrote The Golden Gate. I have also been inspired by writers like, , and Sir V S Naipaul.
Vikrant: I have always liked the way thoughts are constructed and which tend to evoke us emotionally and show us how relevant and precious life is.
Vikrant: Ode to Dignity was written in over ten months. I was regular in my daily writing; else it could have taken longer.
Vikrant: Being a good author needs an interest in reading, a basic talent, which we also call God’s gift, a certain nuance with the words and their interplay and finally being disciplined enough to keep working on ones story. It should be written with ones emotions and then the natural flow is visible and felt by the reader.
Vikrant: The Indian writing industry is in its infancy and still evolving and it is competitive all over the world. Hence there will be its pros and cons.
Vikrant: I think writing is very vast in terms of the genres all over the world and there is a readership for all genres. True in terms of selling, there do come trends and certain genres which outsell the rest, and yet every writer can showcase his style and sensibility.
Vikrant: This book didn’t need any research as it’s a novel in ballad meter and hence it entailed the story which I had in my mind and so I didn’t have to take any outside references or research.
Vikrant: The character of the female protagonist exudes a sense of dignity throughout the novel. Also the Lieutenant also comes across as a dignified man, amidst trying times. Ode was in a sense a very romantic word which I liked since my childhood having read poems with the title having the word Ode. Hence I felt this was like an Ode to the dignity displayed by the Lady and the Lieutenant.
Vikrant: There are a lot of good authors who are my contemporaries and since I have just began and lot of them have been published since the past few years, so maybe as time goes by and I make my mark, would I begin considering them as contemporaries. For now I am just a beginner.
Vikrant: Yes every book has a lot of the author in such genres which depict life and relationships. So there are certain influences from my own life in it.
Vikrant: The Lieutenant in a lot of ways has shades of my perspectives or aspirations as I was going through the phase of being a young officer.
Vikrant: I have had two reading events and it’s been a wonderful experience to interact with readers and speak about my book. Also their asking questions have been a wonderfully interactive experience. The response by readers who have read it has been very overwhelming. It has been beyond my expectations.
Vikrant: The next book is a fiction called The Dark Rainbow which is a lesbian love story. It is mostly about two women finding solace in each other.
Vikrant: I have written one fiction novel and would continue writing fiction. I might attempt another novel in verse form, but am not sure of it now as it needs a lot of hard work and this book has been much tougher to write than my fiction novel.
Vikrant: Yes, it will be great if this is adapted into a film, or a play as it has ballads and it would be good for stage. Also the book then gets a wider audience. It being a block buster would be extremely satisfying.
Vikrant: I felt a certain void after being in my work after a few years and felt I needed to devote my time and energies in creating something worthwhile. My mother’s constant references to Valmiki’s Ramayana stayed in me and I felt like writing in the same form as it was rare and challenging.
Vikrant: Yes, I think a novel in ballads has been taken by surprise by most of the writers and readers. A lot of them even got to know of it for the first time. So there is a lot of curiosity. I do hope someone follows it, though it will be tough and there will have to be a lot of hard work which goes into it. But I shall truly feel wonderful if more such works come out. That will be a huge compliment for me.
Vikrant: Yes, already those who have read it have found it a nice read and have been telling me so. And I am sure it will be attempted by a few who have a good sense of rhyme. Though most of the poetry that comes out now is free verse and this needs a good sense of rhyme. I do hope someone does it for the pure love of it.