This post is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s coverage of the HT Crime Writers Festival:
By Krishangi Singh:
As one of India’s first few TV journalists, he witnessed and reported the Babri Masjid demolition and the following riots as they spread like wildfire through the state.
At a time when television media had just begun to expand in the country, television reporting was a prowess that very few held. However, from journalism, to entrepreneurship, to penmanship, writer Juggi Bhasin has skills spanning across a wide-range of domains. Famous for his fast paced geo-political thriller ‘The Terrorist’ and ‘The Avenger’, the author is back with the third installment in the series – ‘Blood Song’.
At the recently held HT Crime Writers Festival, Youth Ki Awaaz engaged in a vivacious conversation with the author over mastering the forte of crime fiction, the fate of Indian television media, and more.
Tell us a little bit about your new book ‘Blood Song’.
Blood Song is the story of a girl called Simran who is based at Southall in London, but due to an event that occurs in her life, she is supposed to come to Amritsar in Punjab. It’s her entire journey and what happens to her that she lands up in a terror plot and then how she encounters a sinister Godman is what forms the story.
The current television media trend of excessive debating and exaggerating events has invaded nearly all channels. Where do you think the Indian media is going?
Well to some extent we’re also doing what is happening all around the world. There is nothing wrong with having television debates. The only thing we’re not doing is giving enough field reports. It’s so easy to get people in studios for a debate but you need more people on the ground covering and reporting events. A lot of debates are pointless as everybody has heard and seen the same thing again and again, so a new format has to come in which excites people again.
You have extensively covered the Babri Masjid demolition and Kashmir insurgency. Could you tell us about some moments that particularly stood out?
Back then we didn’t have satellite TV so there were a few handpicked channels, and I used to work for Doordarshan news. I was covering the event and it was all captured on our tapes. So, after the demolition had happened, there was a lot of confusion and there were many threats to our lives. We had to take our cameras and leave from there to Lucknow. So what really stuck in my mind was that the riots actually took place after the Babri demolition and spread with lightning speed.
When we went to Lucknow and then came back to Delhi, en route we could see that literally all of UP was on fire. So much was happening around us and we felt so powerless. The speed of the riots was unimaginable and it is nothing I ever want to witness again.
You worked as a TV journalist for a decade before venturing into other businesses. Did any skills you acquired as a journalist help you in writing your books?
Absolutely! One thing that I really like doing in my books is to combine fiction with reality. So, a lot of incidents which I witnessed as a journalist, such as Kashmir insurgency, somehow in one aspect or the other came into my novels.
What would you say is the most difficult aspect of writing crime novels?
I think that while writing crime novels, you have to be absolutely sure. There is a forensic element that comes in while writing crime fiction, which means that you have to be absolutely certain about the events you’re discussing and people you’re talking about. There can be nothing left to chance because you’ll look really stupid if you don’t tie up loose ends. The entire endeavor of a crime novel is what we call ‘thrills and chills’ and every page of the novel has to be a page-turner, which keeps the reader glued to the novel.
For instance ‘Jack the Ripper’ to my mind, remains one of the most enigmatic and interesting sequences in crime thrillers because till now no one has been able to figure out who he really is and the original writing had hundreds of theories flying around. So if you can make your reader think ‘is this even possible?’, then your novel is going to be successful.
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What does your writing space look like?
I have a very well equipped study where I love to write. I do believe that this entire concept of writing in front of scenic views is highly exaggerated.
What aspiring authors must not do…
Look up to someone, that is fine, but never ever copy anyone. Always look for your own individual style.
Tea Or Coffee? Early Bird or Creature of the Night? Road trip or flying?
Tea. Creature of the night. Road trip.
Okay to sip wine while writing?
Never. You should keep your head absolutely clear while writing.
What do you do when you hit the mythical Writer’s Block?
Honestly I think this is very exaggerated. There are days when you don’t produce the best content but I don’t think that I have ever faced one.
And where does one find that mystical Muse?
We live in a country where so much is happening 24×7, so you don’t really have to venture out to find inspiration. It’s all around you!
If not a writer, you’d be?
I would have loved to be a film director.
A character of your own creation you have fallen for?
Suri, my protagonist in all three novels.
A character from a movie or book you wish you could be…
When I was younger I felt really captivated by Robert De Niro’s role in Taxi Driver.
A book’s ending you wish you could change (not yours) and how…
I wish Shakespeare’s tragedies had happier endings.
Critical acclaim or crazy screaming fans?
The one author you’d be happy to swap lives with?
J.K. Rowling [/alert]
To know more about the author and his work, check out his website.