A background in science, a degree in Statistics and masters in business administration, and even a corporate job couldn’t keep author Bhaskar Chattopadhyay from telling stories. Although he didn’t work consciously to make a literary career, but the Banglore-based writer is pretty “satisfied” with the way it is going. His translations include 14: Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray, The House By The Lake, 12 Stories by Hasan Azizul Huq, among others. And now he has debuted as an author with suspense thriller Patang.
“Along with translating famous Bengali authors, I’ve been meaning to tell my own stories for some time now. But I’d never written anything concrete. And then, someone from the Mumbai film industry, who had read my works, asked me to write a story for a film. So, I wrote a 30-page treatment. It was about a detective hunting down a dangerous serial killer. And the feedback I received was that I would need to flesh it out a bit more. So, I started to write, and soon enough, I realized I had written a full-fledged 250-page novel,” says Bhaskar, who would often write character sketches and about incidents is his personal notes, even as a child.
But translating isn’t an easy job. “You’re right when you say that translations aren’t easy. It is, in fact, one of the most difficult (and if done with passion, most fulfilling) literary endeavours. Not only do you have to understand and assimilate the original work, you also need to convey the message contained therein in a whole new language to a set of readers who may not know anything about the world being talked about, making sure that you do not lose anything in the process. One always hears the term ‘lost in translation’, but I must tell you this: no translator worth his salt ever wants to lose anything while translating,” he says, and adds, “I’d say the most difficult part of translating a book are the abuses (smiles)!”
Bhaskar Chattopadhyay’s Patang is a crime thriller, full of interesting twists and suspense.
Although translations will keep coming from his pen, his debut: a pacey, gripping thriller about a serial killer who hangs his victims like a kite or Patang high up to die, is making noise. “Patang is primarily a hunting story, detailing out how a predator pursues its prey. It almost broke me down,” he shares. The suspense thriller, full of interesting twists, has had quite an affect on the author, he confesses, “Primarily, because the story belongs to a world that I know nothing about. Inhabiting the mind of the killer, thinking like he does, planning and executing his crimes, and the most important bit, one that’s quite easy to overlook -- suffering as he does -- all of these took a toll on me. I’d become a recluse, and always used to remain grumpy, I wouldn’t come out of my den for days on end. And it all started affecting my health as well. My family supported me a lot, and a few friends really helped me draw myself out of my shell. But in the end, I myself had to battle the demons I had inadvertently unleashed within my head,” he says adding that the response to the book is surely “worth it”.
While his next -- a murder mystery -- is also ready, he says he chooses stories not the genre. “I never choose a genre first. To me, the story, or rather the core of the story is of paramount importance, and it always comes first. The genre comes much later, and is merely a by-product of the thinking and writing process. If I were to choose the genre first, before anything else, I would be constraining myself immensely -- that would be a grave mistake. Another oft-committed error is to write something that would ‘sell’. The truth is, no one knows what would sell. As a writer, it is not my job to worry about what would or would not sell. That’s the job of the publishers, and they are very, very good at it. My job is to tell a story, and to tell it well.”
Author: Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
Publisher: Hachette India