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Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

You have been prolific in the crime genre. Why this affinity towards crime?

Believe it or not, it’s a coincidence. ‘Patang’ was written because someone from the film world asked me to write a thriller for the screen. My second one, ‘Penumbra’, was written because I wanted to create my own detective — someone like Poirot or Feluda. The book was well received, so much so that readers began asking me if I would follow it up with another mystery novel featuring the same detective and his loyal friend. So, I did, and ‘Here Falls The Shadow’ was written. As an author, I’d like to explore different genres — a comedy of errors, romance, a coming of age tale and perhaps science fantasy as well. In crime, I love the writings of Agatha Christie, Satyajit Ray, Conan Doyle and Nicholas Blake.

Where have all the Indian detectives gone?

Blame it on the ever curious nature or their penchant for thrill, readers in India have always enjoyed good detective fiction. In Bengali literature, apart from Feluda, Byomkesh Bakshi, a fictional detective created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay also enjoys a fan following. There is also Kiriti Roy, a professional detective created by Dr Nihar Ranjan Gupta whose stories are still being adapted for Bengali television series.
But the same cannot be said for English detective fiction in India. And perhaps, the perceptible absence of the genre has convinced readers, albeit mistakenly, that it is still the international authors who do it right.

What about writing excites you?

It’s the storytelling that excites me. The fact that I can keep my readers engaged in a good story.

Your favourite author?

I won’t be able to name just one. Jim Corbett, O Henry, Agatha Christie, Satyajit Ray have all had big influences on my writing.

What triggered this book?

After Penumbra, I had to write a second book featuring Janardan Maity. But the thing about good mystery novels, especially whodunits, is that you need a solid puzzle in order to write them. The most important question to ask while writing, or reading a whodunit is not the ‘who’ but the ‘how’.

The small town setting in Nimdeora lends an old world charm to the story. What made you choose this backdrop?

I grew up in a small town. Not very long ago, I also had the opportunity to go and meet an old friend who hails from Jharkhand. He showed me around, and I was fascinated by some of the things I saw. While quite a bit of what you read in Here Falls The Shadow is a product of my imagination, there are a few other things which I have seen and experienced. As I lived amid these settings, I could connect with them and it made me realise what a beautiful setting it would be for a good old mystery novel.

What is your take on detective fiction in India?

It is an interesting time to write detective fiction in India. With detectives emerging without a sidekick, they are slowly moving away from the established templates. Several Indian authors are now looking at detective fiction through varied lenses: historical detective fiction novels, psychological detective fiction novels, among others are emerging in the literary space.

What are your upcoming projects?

My readers know me as a thriller and mystery writer. Which is why a love story that I am writing is a pet project of mine.

Our readers would love to get a peek into the novel?

Here Falls the Shadow is my third fiction, and second in the Maity detective series, first being Penumbra. Here Falls… is yet another detective story that explores a crime puzzle, keeping the reader gripped throughout. Maity and Ray, who made their debut in ‘Penumbra’, make a comeback in this whodunnit, giving Indian readers their own set of Sherlock and Watson. The reader is as consumed in solving the mystery as the astute Maity, such is the power of the puzzle presented in the book.

About the Interviewee:

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay is the author of two novels, Patang and Penumbra. He has also written and edited a bestselling anthology of short stories, 14: Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray and has translated the works of several Bengali writers such as Rabindranath Tagore and Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay.

He lives in Bengaluru with his wife, Sweta and sons Ishaan and Emon.