NEELESH MISRA, a Lucknowite currently based in Delhi, has the panache to surpass himself. Besides penning two bestselling non-fiction books, covering South Asia’s most compelling stories as a journalist, he has also written hit songs for Hindi films like Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai. He is now ready with his first novel, a romantic comedy about outsourced love called Once Upon a Timezone…
To be published by HarperCollins India, the novel will be available in bookstores in October, after its formal release at the Frankfurt Book Fair – where India is the guest of honour this year.
Once Upon a Timezone… is set in the heart of middle-class India. Neel Pandey, just out of college, dreams day and night of his first love, America, and also an escape from his father’s grandiose plan to get him an upper caste wife and a secure government job. Unable to go to the United States, Neel settles for second best option– a job at a call centre where he assumes an American identity. But he soon tumbles into a faraway romance that will transform his life.
Talking about the story, Neelesh Misra says: “The life of call centre agents has fascinated me since I started writing about them as a journalist. It’s about living with this other world, that we have always slept through, which they get to reach out to. But much more than a call centre romance, this story is about chasing one’s dreams, about overcoming prejudice, and taking that leap of faith that we are scared of taking about, but which often transforms our lives. Writing a funny novel was a great escape from my daily fare of grim journalism!”
This is what PM Sukumar, CEO, HarperCollins India, said about the book: “A light, breezy look at US visas, call centres, and outsourced love, Neelesh Misra’s Once Upon a Timezone… is a hugely entertaining romantic romp across two continents.”
Film director Mahesh Bhatt comments: “Neelesh Misra is one of the best young storytellers of the new India. Neelesh comes from the real India, and captures it extremely well with various tools he uses as a storyteller—in his work as a journalist, a songwriter, and in his books. He has the soil of the faraway India on his boots, and sparkling, ever new dreams in his eyes.”
Neelesh has previously written two non fiction books: 173 Hours in Captivity: The Hijacking of IC 814 and End of the Line: The Story of The Killing of The Royals in Nepal.
Neelesh is also a songwriter in Bollywood and is counted among the new “renaissance lyricists” – a small group of songwriters from different professions who, as outsiders, are bringing a new facet to Hindi film music. He has films like Jism, Rog, Holiday, Gangster and Woh Lamhe to his credit. He is currently writing the screenplay for Sanjay Gupta’s next film, Alibaug, apart from lyrics for this and several new films.