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'Sudha & Narayana Murthy's Love Story Worth Telling': Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni talks about her new book 'An Uncommon Love', based on the lives of the Murthys.

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

"He (Narayana Murthy) was always very driven and very focussed. He was working 80 hours – and 90 hours – a week. Was there a cost to it? He was not there for the children. He was not there for Sudha ji," said writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, commenting on the 70-hour-work week remark that Infosys founder Narayana Murthy had made in October 2023.

At the 17th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival held from 1-5 February, Divakaruni sat down to chat with The Quint about her new book An Uncommon Love: The Early Life of Sudha and Narayana Murthy, which is based on the lives of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy and his wife-philanthropist Sudha Murty.

Read edited excerpts below.

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What was it about the Murthys that made you move from writing historical and mythological fiction to writing their story?

I felt that people would really be able to relate to their story. Particularly, because An Uncommon Love is the story of their early life, when they were young, in love, went through a lot of difficulties, how they managed to be successful in spite of these difficulties, and how they supported each other. I thought that was a story worth telling and would be inspiring.

What was the most interesting thing you found out the Murthys in the course of writing your book?

Sudha Murty loved going to the movies for the late show because it’s not so crowded. She was living in a women’s hostel, so she couldn’t get back before curfew. They’ve locked the gate. Now she’s in big trouble. 

Mr Murthy, who is now so law-abiding, said, ‘Let me think of a trick’. He takes some stones. She throws them at the window. Sudha’s roommate opens the window. He tells her, ‘Please loudly call the guard as though something is wrong’. 

The guard would run there to see, and Sudha Murthy would walk in. 

What was the writing process like? How long did it take it write the book? Was it difficult moving into a non-fiction zone?

Yes, it was. The book took about two years (to write). At first, I was just doing research and collecting materials. Then, I sent (the Murthys) questions over email and they answered. We did Zoom interviews. Finally, I went and stayed with them for quite a while in Bangalore.

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