About Vikram Mankal:
Vikram Mankal is a writer and a homemaker. In his journey to get there he has worked in the energy and construction sectors, performed as a stage actor, written for magazines and authored a weekly column in The Hindu. Apart from The Acting MD Part 2, he is working on a few shows and is hoping to convert this book into a web series as well.
He loves stories in all forms, be it books, plays, films or TV shows. He is also one of those people who cooks for the joy of it.
LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.
Vikram: The Acting MD is a product of my experiences. I have worked in the construction/infrastructure industry and have performed as a stage actor. The thought of having these two worlds somehow collide felt intriguing. The tagline of the book – the greatest skill an Indian businessman needs is acting – is something that I genuinely believe. This served as the cornerstone for this story.
The Acting MD is plot driven. I made a conscious effort to craft every scene in a manner that makes it relevant and moves the plot along. It was quite a challenge giving life to multiple key characters, each with their own motives and agenda. But that was the best part of this whole process for me.
LiFT: Why you chose this title?
Vikram: I usually struggle to come up with titles. But this was a story about an actor who is forced to takeover as the interim MD of a large business. So the title was right there staring at me.
LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer and what’s your inspiration behind it?
Vikram: I have always enjoyed stories. I love being transported into the world of its characters. But for the longest time, I hadn’t read a single novel. When I did eventually start reading, it felt like a portal had been opened. Reading taught me writing. For me, writing is like a magic trick – to convince your audience that what you’re showing them is real even though we all know it isn’t.
LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?
Vikram: As of now there are 3 other stories that I feel compelled to write, one of which is multiple volume series. Before that there is of course The Acting MD part 2. I’d consider myself lucky if in ten years I’ve written all of these.
LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?
Vikram: I feel it is very important. Yes, the content needs to be good. But even if you have written the best book in the world you need to let your readers know that it exists. You need to wade through all that noise and reach the right people.
LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?
Vikram: I have no particular agenda as a writer other than to entertain. To read or write, I’ve always loved good old ficiton.
LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?
Vikram: I am a writer and a homemaker. I am one of those people who cooks for the joy of it. When I’m not playing with my daughter or reading to her, I am whipping up something in the kitchen.
LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?
Vikram: To paraphrase what a friend once said, “Writing isn’t like tap water. You can’t just open it and expect it to flow. Writing is like rain. It will come when it comes.” I allow myself to organically get into the right mind space most of the time. But when there is a deadline, I make sure I cut out all distractions, which usually helps me break through the block.
LiFT: What if your story will be adopted as a movie? Whom would you want to work as a director or actors in it?
Vikram: The Acting MD has many similarities with films like Munna Bhai and PK. The protagonist in the Acting MD is an outsider who has no clue about the world he is entering. There is a naivety with which he begins this journey. So none better than Mr. Hirani to handle a subject like this. As for the lead, I feel Pratik Gandhi would be a perfect fit.
LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.
Vikram: My next book is The Acting MD part 2. A teaser for this is there at the end of part 1. Pranav Rai (the protagonist) marks his presence in volume 1. Volume 2 will see the completion of his transformation from a naive young man to the quintessential businessman.
LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?
Vikram: Read! Read the kind of stories that you want to write. And don’t be afraid to do something that hasn’t been done.