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Saionton Basu, Partner at Duane Morris LLP, has penned a book titled Seven Attempts. The NLSIU Bangalore graduate has been writing on various topics and his work has been featured in multiple publications. Seven Attempts, a story about the lives of civil services aspirants, marks his first attempt at a full feature book.
Basu joined Duane Morris from Penningtons Manches LLP in October 2014, with stints at the erstwhile Amarchand Mangaldas in Delhi, and the London office of White & Case. In 2009, he joined Platinum Partners, before moving Penningtons where he was made a Partner in 2012.
In this short interview with Bar & Bench’s Aditya AK, Basu discusses his first foray into book writing and future plans.
Aditya AK: You’ve been writing on various topics for a while now. When did you first catch the writing bug?
Saionton Basu: I went to Vasant Valley School in Delhi, where there was a great deal of emphasis on expression, whether through writing, debating, performing arts or sports. Within the limitations of the uni-directional reward systems of the board examinations, the school encouraged each of us to explore avenues beyond the textbooks.
We were made to pursue hobbies of our choice for a few hours every week in a semi-structured format. I stumbled into the school newsletter at an early age and benefited enormously from the opportunities it presented me for developing my writing skills. In fact the editorial board of the school newsletter or Vasant Valley Today as it was known then has produced several national columnists, editors, journalists, film makers and others associated with mass media.
Aditya AK: Is the book autobiographical to any extent? Did you have dreams of cracking the civils?
Saionton Basu: Not in the least. However, I interacted a lot with JNU students and civil service aspirants among them, as I used to live on campus while growing up. These interactions in many ways was the raw material for the book.
Aditya AK: What are the themes touched upon in Seven Attempts?
Saionton Basu: Essentially, it is a deep dive into seven years of seven protagonists, each trying to find meaning and give wing to aspiration; all within the overarching backdrop of the Indian civil services examination. Anyone familiar with the system knows what really goes into it. So I would say it is basically a chronicle of anecdotes that I have observed and spun into a story.
Aditya AK: How do you find the time to write, given the busy law firm schedule?
Saionton Basu: I have been asked this question incessantly by everyone I have met! Contrary to popular perception, I never found it to be a struggle. Perhaps because there were no strict deadlines so to speak and also that writing was a form of leisure activity that I anyway engaged in. The only difference was that this was one continuous project, whereas before this I had only written short article length pieces for different publications.
Aditya AK: Could you reveal some details on the book being made into a movie?
Saionton Basu: This was a wholly unexpected outcome from writing the book, so I am still trying to grapple with the next steps in this directions. I am still the equivalent of an intern in this industry. So, without breaching norms or convention, all I can say is that a studio and a director have taken this on and is in early stages of screenplay development and planning.
Aditya AK: Can we expect another full feature book in the near future?
Saionton Basu: There is no plan as such. However, just as, this one was the outcome of incremental efforts over a number of years, so another one may snowball into a book eventually.