King of pulp fiction Surendra Mohan Pathak on his characters Sunil, Sudhir and Vimal
Surendra Mohan Pathak, who has written nearly 300 crime novels in Hindi, spoke of how he created some of his most memorable protagonists. He released the first of what will be a three-part autobiography, Na Bairi Na Koi Begana at the Jaipur Literature Festival.JaipurLitFest Updated: Feb 01, 2018 14:18 IST
They occupied several rows of seats in the front, men in white t-shirts with #SMPians printed across in bold black, and cheered loudly as 78-year-old author Surendra Mohan Pathak walked up to the dias for the release of the first of what will be a three-part autobiography, Na Bairi Na Koi Begana.
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When my publisher approached me with the idea of the autobiography I was not sure I could do it. I thought my life had been so uneventful that I wouldn’t be able to write 50 pages. But then, for seven months I was writing every day for nine to 10 hours. When I finished I had 1,250 pages,” said the author, who was in conversation with journalist-author Poonam Saxena. Asked how he could remember the details of his childhood described in the book, the author said his own memory had amazed him. “I remember things from the time I was four-years-old, the old house and market. And some of the things I remember are from the time in Pakistan, Lahore,” he said, a tinge of wonder in his voice.
The writer of nearly 300 crime books spoke wittily of his stories as he went on to explain how he created some of his most memorable protagonists, Sunil, Sudhir and Vimal. “It’s a business, when one kind of sweetmeat doesn’t sell, you make a variation,” he said, adding, “When I made Sunil an investigative journalist, the term had not been coined. The publishers asked me to change his profession, but I didn’t,” he says. His faith in his creation was justified, given the subsequent success of the character.
But perhaps such confidence was possible at a time when there were about 70 publishers of pulp fiction and six or seven novels were being released every year. Now, Pathak says, there are only three publishers – one in Delhi and two in Meerut -- and new authors are not coming in because there aren’t enough publishers.
A visibly emotional Pathak said, “All I want now is that my writing shouldn’t end in front of my eyes.” But as Saxena pointed out, there will always be a demand for his writing. Besides, the author has just found an all-new market in translations.
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