When he says he hasn’t read any book so far, he raises the brows of an ‘angrez’ sitting in the audience, obviously an avid reader. He credits his debut book, What a Loser, to the informal love letters he had written to his ‘crushes’ as a youngster.
Funny man Pankaj Dubey, who carries a bag full of one-liners that incite laughter at every word, launched his debut novel, What a Loser, in Chandigarh on Monday, and says his sole purpose of writing is to entertain people.
Mumbai-based Ranchi lad Dubey starts off by talking about his book. “Set in the post-liberalisation phase of 1990s, the book is based in the north campus of Delhi University. It is a fresh take on issues revolving round the issues of one’s own identity. It has hints of satire, as it attempts to tell the story of a million students from the cowbelt states of UP, Bihar, MP, Jharkhan and Rajasthan, who arrive at DU with their parents’ borrowed dreams, and aspire to become IAS officers,” he shares.
Dubey, who studied at the Delhi University himself, says the book is not entirely autobiographical. “It’s 17% my story, and the rest is about four friends of mine.”
Having written the book in two languages — What a Loser (English) and Loser Kahin Ka (Hindi), Dubey explains, “I love both the languages. By not writing in Hindi, I didn’t want to lose out on readers. Both the languages are important for me, as I think in Hindi, but when I have to negotiate on money matters, English comes in handy!” The first lot of 8,000 copies (5,000 in English and 3,000 in Hindi), is all sold out, says he.
Behind becoming a writer laid the desire to get famous. He says, “Once when I was in London, I saw a crowd of 300 people standing outside, which obviously intrigued me. When I enquired, I got to know that the new Harry Potter book was releasing that day, which they all wanted to get their hands on before it went out of stock. I was moved by the realisation that writers could be this popular.”
Prior to writing, Dubey worked as a presenter with BBC World Service from 2003 to 2005, which was followed by working with various media organisations in London and India. He was also the screenplay supervisor for Bollywood film Ghanchakkar.
Dubey, who has an interesting habit of mentioning films in everything he talks about, says, “Under my banner, Sadak Chaap Films, I produced two short films — Dance of Ganesha (Naach Ganesha) and Geelee: Wet Dreams. These films have been screened at various international film festivals. In fact, I even curated a few film festivals, one of which was Sadak Chaap Film Festival, for which I received the Youth Icon for Social Entrepreneurship award by Abdul Kalam Azad in 2010. The film festival travelled to various cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.”
Currently, Dubey is working on a screenplay based on What a Loser, which he plans to direct soon.