Author Ravi Subramanian never expected that seven months after he released his thriller "In the Name of God", his book will be in news for its uncanny similarities with the real-time Nirav Modi-Punjab National Bank scam.
On February 14, second largest state-owned lender Punjab National Bank reported fraudulent transactions by diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his firms which were over Rs 11,000 crore. The bank lodged a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation, saying that its officials issued flawed Letters of Undertaking to get buyer's credit from other Indian banks. His maternal uncle and another famous diamond merchant, Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Group, has also been named in the fraud.
The book revolves around the protagonist, Nirav Choksi, a jeweller who gets involved in a heist to smuggle the antiques from the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala. Thanks to plot and the name of the central character, the book suddenly rose higher on the Amazon Bestsellers list and topped the crime, thriller and mystery vertical. Asking about the name and the plot, Subramanian said while planning the plot, he needed a stylish name with some public memory involved.
"My book is based on the temple and its riches. It is under the control of the local king and has huge treasures locked away in the subterranean vaults. I did my research by reading the newspapers. For the central character, I was looking for a flamboyant jeweller. When authors like me name a character in their book, we normally look around for names in the industry. My character had to be a Gujarati, because of the diamond connection. The name, Nirav Choksi, is flamboyant, stylish, sounds powerful and is easy for the reader to remember."
The details in the book will shock you further. In the book, Nirav Choksi has been described as a rich and powerful diamond trader with Antwerp, Mumbai. Denying any resemblance to the fraud case, Subramanian said the plot is different and names chosen are coincidental.
"The choice of the name is certainly coincidental. People haven't read the book and just talking about the resemblance with the name. In India all wealthy people (irrespective of business, sector) have strong political connections and are influential. The book does not have any mentions of any scam or fraud."
A banker by profession, Subramanian has penned books around banks and frauds. When asked about whether his books pointed at loopholes in our banking system, he said loopholes in systems give a scope of scams and then such thriller ideas.
"Thrillers evolve around various ambiguities or inadequacies in the law or a set of rules. People figure out loopholes in the system and take advantage of it, leading to crime. Every thriller points to such loopholes - either in banking or the legal system or in the society at large. If all loopholes are plugged we would have a perfect society. There will be no crime. Crime and thriller writers would be out of a job."