Adman-turned-film director Piyush Jha ventured into writing in 2012 with the book, Mumbaistaan. Since then, he has regularly churned out several bestsellers. Recently, he launched his fourth book, Raakshas, which will also be adapted for the big screen next year. Jha, who is known for his riveting crime thrillers, tells us more about his fascination with the genre, his journey into writing, and his new projects.
Why did you choose to write a crime novel when you first started out?
I love Mumbai, and it is a city where a lot of crime happens. I am also a fan of crime fiction. These two interests culminated in what I write — noir fiction. Everything else that I am working on is also crime-oriented (laughs). I am busy with a crime-based TV show. One of my previous books is being converted into a web series as well.
What kind of research goes into writing such books?
I am inspired by reality. My writing is not a figment of my imagination. I pore over newspapers every morning, and that’s where my research happens. I weave real crimes into fictional stories. In fact, right before my book got published, the Sheena Bora case came up, and I found the nature of crime in my book to be similar to that of the case. I was worried that people would think that I have copied it from real events.
Your latest book is about serial killers. Is the story inspired by real-life incidents?
I have listed a few lesser-known serial killers in India at the end of my book to acquaint readers. People think serial killers are a western phenomenon. But statistics show that there are many serial killers in our society like Mohan Kumar (Cyanide Mohan), Darbara Singh (The Baby Killer), Chandrakant Jha (The Body Parts Killer) and many more. My idea was to venture into this topic.
What is your opinion of the publishing industry in India?
Publishers make money out of the books we write, while ‘exotic fiction’ does not sell as much. There are some authors, who are writing about the fragrance of frangipani in the air, then there are writers who are trying to get in touch with their roots, and then, there is the Indian diaspora. Indian writing has become formulaic. Publishers have to understand that their bread and butter is coming from the likes of Ashwin Sanghvi, Amish Tripathi, Preeti Shenoy, Anuja Chauhan, etc.
How did the transition from directing to writing happen?
I was working on the script of a film, but that didn’t work out for some reason. So I turned the script into a short story which my wife read. She encouraged me to write more, and convinced me to send it to a publisher. One of them not only offered to publish it, but they also wanted me to sign a three-book deal with them. I got excited and accepted the offer. Thereafter, I got so involved in writing, that I didn’t pursue the film I had originally written the script for.
Are you planning to direct again anytime soon?
I keep drifting between being a film-maker and an author. I am currently working on a film. I have already identified a producer to convert my latest book into a film that I will be directing. I haven’t done a film with a star till now, and that is something that I want to explore at this point in time.
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