Bollywood, in recent times, has become a hotspot for making films from different genres and quite a few of them are working at the box-office. Neeraj Pandey belongs to this new-age filmmakers who has been able to sell his different films in the market successfully, be it A Wednesday! or Special 26. He has a new tag attached to himself – he is a writer. He has recently launched his new book Ghalib Danger, a thriller much like his films and lets you travel through the Mumbai underworld. Neeraj was in town recently to launch his book at Landmark Store and talk about it.
“I always wanted to write and was clear that I will write, once I have time on my hand,” Neeraj responds to the obvious question of the reason behind writing. “When I finished working on Special 26, I could clearly sense the gap to write a book, before I started my next project. Things just fell into place.” He describes the story as being about destinies and what happens when they collide. The lead character, Kamran Ali’s story spans from the 60s and ends in 2013. Circumstances make him do what he does. “It is about people, angst, love, pain and about little we can be in control of our destiny.”
Studying any characters from real life was not his cup of tea, as one can get knowledge of traits by just observing and understanding things. “Actually, writing does not take too much of time. With a book, there is always a start, middle and end. When you start writing, the characters grow, along with the story.” The interesting fact about Ghalib Danger is that Neeraj had plans to write short stories but good friend acclaimed author Hussain Zaidi gave him the advice to ahead for a full-fledged novel. Zaidi’s own book Black Friday is a small help for Neeraj. Zaidi, we are told by Neeraj, was impressed with the work.
Most prefer dealing with different genres, whether in films or while writing books. But Ghalib Danger seems like an extension of his films. Neeraj feels the procedure about taking up a genre or writing style should be organic. “If you have a story to adapt and the tone for it, you could well do the book.” His tryst with research is more with settings and keeping the 60s Mumbai and present Mumbai in mind. “I have tried to get the facts right, especially when the story travels to Dubai and France.”
If you ask him about his personal reading list, it is quite broad, as he prefers reading anything exciting. It can be anything he finds suggested on the net or even recommendations from friends. Neeraj has love for literary stuff and autobiographies. “Ghalib is my favourite poet. I have been trying to understand his work, since I was 12 years of age.”
With Neeraj being a filmmaker, the question arises about movies lacking in story these days. With books like Ghalib Danger, one might feel you can get more subjects for film scripts. “But filmmakers are doing it. There is a tremendous amount of interaction happening, with many filmmakers buying rights for books. In fact, many approach us of wanting us to buy the rights to their books. But the thing is such films will always be based on interpretations and no one can control that. It always happens. Some don’t live up to expectations.”
Neeraj is right now basking in the response he is getting for his debut novel which was launched at the The Times of India Literary Carnival in December. Ask him about his next literal work to turn up and he signs off by plainly stating that nothing has been planned as yet.