Interview of TS Sudhir
Formerly Editor (South) with NDTV, T S Sudhir, is now the Editor of The South Reports website and also the brain behind the humour and political satire website, Tenali Rama Reports.
The newsmaker and the man in news has now turned author with an inspirational biography of badminton player Saina Nehwal.
He tells us about his journey with the book.First, Congratulations on the book! We really hope that the book reaches to the intended audience and they benefit from the biography.
So, how long did it take you to complete the book?
I started work on the book in June 2011. A lot of the initial work was to do research on what information on Saina is already available in the public domain. Simultaneously I was also reading a few sports biographies and books to get an idea of what works well and what does not work so well, from a reader’s point of view. I also dipped into my own personal notes that I maintain. They came in handy here since I have known Saina and her family for nearly a decade now and her coach Pullela Gopichand for 15 years.
I am a sports lover and though I have not been a pure sports journalist, I have done lots of sports stories during my stint at `The Economic Times’ and then later at NDTV. I understand the dynamics of sports very well. Badminton is a game I have followed very closely because of the large number of quality players we have in Hyderabad.
Once the initial reading was done, I started interviewing people who have known Saina. That included her family members, coaches, journalists, badminton officials, former players, fellow players, brand gurus apart from Saina herself.
The entire manuscript was complete in October but I waited till December to include all the tournaments till end of 2011 in the book. And in June this year, I updated the book to include her performance and other developments in 2012 as well.
Why Sania Nehwal?
The idea to write a book on Saina Nehwal came from my wife, Uma Sudhir, who is also a journalist and is now Resident Editor with NDTV. When we discussed the idea further, we found lot of merit in it. Unlike other sportspersons, she is the least exposed. The public knows very little about her. The only information that is available about her is about her game and a bit about her parents. I found there was a crucial information gap when it came to Saina.
When I spoke to people to gauge how a Saina Nehwal book would be received, I found there was a lot of curiousity about her meteoric rise. People knew of her post 2010, when she won the five big titles in a single year. Little was known of Saina before that, almost as if she had burst on the scene out of nowhere.
Hence I thought Saina was an apt subject for a book, she is a story waiting to be told.
Few things you’ve learnt in the journey?
I have always admired sportspersons. Saina, I feel, brings some of the best qualities to the table. She is extremely combative on court, hates losing, is very hardworking, disciplined, focused and these inspirational qualities, I believe, will motivate an entire generation if presented in the right manner.
My respect for Saina and players of her ilk has gone up tremendously through this one-year long journey. Many of them were already friends, now I know much more about their craft and I can tell you it is not an easy life they lead. It is very very tough and anyone should take up professional sport only if he or she is 1000% committed to it.
Do you intend to write more books?
Difficult question. I frankly do not know. It will depend largely on the subject. If it is a subject that charges me, challenges me as a writer, I think I will. I want to write fiction – maybe a political thriller but the plot is just about taking shape in my mind.
How long did it take to write the biography?
Roughly about 5 months but I was also simultaneously working on my two websites and freelancing for other magazines and websites. I would slip into my book writing zone after dinner and work till about 3 am every night. Because you needed to be in a different zone from the world of news that I would be in during the day.
As kids, we’ve learnt, either write something worth doing or do something worth writing, but many today, write like it is a latest fad. Any thoughts on that?
Writing is positive. It is like a cleansing operation. I would encourage everyone to write. I would think over a period of time, you would get writers with distinctive writing style, if they are encouraged early.
I would suggest that you read the book even if you are not a badminton lover. This book is not strictly a sports book. I have attempted to focus on the individual, that is Saina and the individuals who helped make her Saina Nehwal, the champion.
Two, both I and the publishing house, Nimby Books believe that independent biographies that are a product of honest journalism should be encouraged. The book is not a PR piece. It takes a hard critical look at the state of Indian badminton and has different sets of opinions even about Saina from different people who have known her.
The book also celebrates the triumph against odds of ordinary Indians. Saina’s background is well documented in the book and it is important for every Indian to get inspired from the odds against which she became a champion player.
Wow! Thank you so much! All the best for your book.
The Writer N.Nivedita writes for numerous newspapers and journals, apart from being a passionate Poet and a Publisher. You can read more about her at nnivedita.com