'Flight of the Hilsa': Demystifying Definition of Happiness

New Delhi
'Flight of the Hilsa': Demystifying Definition of Happiness
Advertising is his forte, but a deep-seated desire to tell stories has made Amit Shankar venture into the literary world with his maiden novel Flight of the Hilsa.

"When I started with the Hilsa script, all I wanted to tell was a story. So I stuck to the story-telling part and left the success part to be a 'by-product," says Shankar, who has over a decade of advertising experience.

The Flight of the Hilsa explores and demystifies the definition of happiness while tracing the story of Avantika Sengupta, is a highly opinionated and whimsical, young Bengali painter in search of success.

Bearing the brunt of a traumatic childhood – an abusive father and a rebel creative mother – her life swings between extremes.

This leads to a cynical point of view which turns into a serious mental block, not only clouding her mind but also hampering her ability to see things in the right perspective. No wonder, within the art fraternity, her paintings get branded as "soulless blabbering".

As a creative soul, life to her has been unkind, even in her chosen career. A chanced encounter with a boat owner, some 20 years her senior, changes everything. With a new found "success mantra" and the "boat guy" by her side, as her man, mentor and guide, she starts striding towards her long-cherished notion of happiness - of being a rich and famous painter.

Most of the chapters are named after popular English song titles.

"This is because Avantika loves music and is addicted to the iPod. She is crazy about the Bob Dylans, the Pink Floyds and the Deep Purples," Shankar told PTI.

The author wanted his book to make sense to everyone.

"I don't want it to be taken just as a good piece of work while having no bearing on one's real life."

To generate some interest in the book, published by Vitasta, the author started a quiz called 'The Hilsa Challenge' on Facebook.

"It was a basically a hype tool aimed at reaching to people, particularly youngsters," he says.

According to Shankar, the campaign met with success as there were some 12,000 hits. The winner of the quiz earned a two-day stay at a resort in north India.
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