When the famous author was in Guwahati for the River Talks festival, organized by by the Royal Group of Institutions in collaboration with North East Writers Forum, he spoke about how he started writing, his latest book and more.
How does it feel to visit Northeast India for the first time?
As you said, this is my first visit to Northeast India. I must say the people here are very friendly. I met so many budding writers who are enthusiastic about literature. Natural beauty is also amazing. I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life here.
When did you realize for the first time that you wanted to become a writer?
When I was in school, I had an exercise book where I wrote various things which came to my mind. I got into trouble when my class master came across it and read the funny remarks I wrote about him and his colleagues. I was punished for that. However, this was also my stepping stone to becoming a writer. I was also a bookworm since my childhood. I loved reading and I realized that I should try my hand at writing as well.
Please tell us a little about your latest book ‘Whispers in the Dark’.
‘Whispers in the Dark’ is an anthology of ghost stories. A few of them are recent stories while I wrote some earlier. When I run out of people, animal and nature, I write ghost stories. But kids complain that my ghosts are not scary.
What is your opinion on the movies made from your books?
I think till now three movies have been made from my books. Shyam Benegal made ‘Junoon’ from my book ‘A Flight of the Pigeons’ in 1978-79. The movie is remembered for the great acting from its cast comprising of Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah. ‘Blue Umbrella’ was also made into a beautiful film. Regarding ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ which was made from my story ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’, the reaction was mixed. I thought Priyanka Chopra performed brilliantly but the movie as a whole was not up to the expectation.
Any tips for budding writers?
I will tell them not to give up easily. There will be disappointments in the beginning. I know many talented writers, who because of initial failures shifted to other professions like copywriting and advertising. Had they persevered longer, they might have succeeded. Also, I advise youngsters to read as much as possible. I still try to improve my vocabulary by reading dictionaries.
Any message for your fans in the Northeast?
Just one thing – keep reading and keep supporting literature.
By Nabarun Guha