I write for Indian readers: Ashwin Sanghi

October 2nd, 2011 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

Shashi Tharoor Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 2 (IANS) From Jesus Christ in Kashmir to a modern Chanakya from Uttar Pradesh — novelist Ashwin Sanghi, winner of the Vodafone Crossword Award in the popular fiction category for “Chanakya’s Chant”, has given commercial thrillers a ‘desi’ edge.

“I don’t care if my books don’t sell abroad, we have a large enough market in our country. I write for Indian readers,” Sanghi told IANS in an interview here.

The indigenous generic thriller novel, with a distinctly Indian feel and language, has come of age, the Mumbai-based writer-businessman said.

“If I use the word ‘khichdi’ in my novel, I don’t have to get into the trouble of explaining that it is a dish of rice and lentils. My Indian readers know it,” Sanghi explained.

“Very few generic thrillers have been written since Feluda (by Satyajit Ray),” he added.

The writer read from “Chanakya’s Chant” at the Kovalam Literary Festival here Saturday.

The rights of the novel have been acquired by UTV for a movie. “I heard that Ashutosh Gowarikar may be directing it… but I am not sure,” Sanghi said.

“Mythology works… because Indians have been bred on myths,” Sanghi said later at a discussion on whether mythology is an abiding influence in the emerging genre of Indian commercial thrillers.

“Chanakya’s Chant”, which was released in January by Shashi Tharoor, has been inspired by an incident involving two of the biggest names in Indian politics.

“I was returning to Mumbai from New Delhi (in 2009) and I saw it on television. It was very simple — Karunanidhi had come to meet Sonia Gandhi and she had draped a shawl around him… That’s when I started looking at modern-day politics with the intention to craft a tale,” Sanghi said.

It led him to Chanakya’s “Arthashastra”.

“And I was hooked. Here is a man in 320 BC talking about almost everything - from taxation, politics to how to rehabilitate sex workers,” the writer said.

He stitched the two disparate stories to create a modern-day Chanakya from Uttar Pradesh who mentors a little girl from slum in Lucknow to become the country’s prime minister.

“And I wanted it to be a breezy kind of read. Hence, the Indian English,” he added.

Sanghi’s first novel, “The Rozabal Line”, was a thriller about Jesus Christ’s legacy in Kashmir, and has been reprinted several times.

Sanghi is currently working on a business thriller.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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