|Born on||15th September|
|Born at||Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh|
|City of residence||Mumbai|
|Books authored||The Butcher of Benares|
|Bio||Mahendra Jakhar was born in a small town in UP, Mainpuri. The place was infested with criminals and dacoits so his mother sent him away to a boarding school near Delhi. After passing out from the school where he picked up reading and writing, he went on to do B.A, English Honos from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University.
After graduation Mahendra worked as a freelance reporter and photographer for various newspapers and magazines in Delhi. He was offered a job with The Times of India where he worked for over six years as a crime-reporter.
Post that he shifted to Mumbai to start working as a script-writer.His first film was with Mahesh Bhatt, The Killer, starring Irrfaan Khan and Emraan Hashmi. He went on to work with Tiggmanshu Dhulia on his film Shaagird, starring Nana Patekar. From there he moved to writing various TV shows like CID, Maano Ya Na Maano, Seeta aur Geeta, Dwarikadhish and various documentaries.
The Butcher of Benares is his first novel. He is already working on his next novel to be published by Westland Publications. His latest film project is Mountain Man directed by Ketan Mehta and will be released soon. He is working on another film script with Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and Ashwini Chaudhary both National Award winning film-makers.
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
Animal Farm – George Orwell It’s the best satire on society in those times with pigs ruling over other animals. It’s still relevant today.
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift An exceptional book filled with unparalleled imagination. This too comments on the comatose society lost in its own deep sleep and divides.
The day of the jackal – Frederick Forsyth One of the finest thrillers ever written. This was the book that hooked me to thrillers.
God speaks – Meher Baba This is the new book that thrashes the whole concept of evolution and studies the evolution of consciousness and the involution of human kind.
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy The book is based on the attack on Russia by Napolean but through the war and the lives of many characters Tolstoy tries to study if humans have free will or everything is pre-destined. He comes up with the conclusion that we hardly have any free-will but we are made to believe in it or we won’t have anything to do.
Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?
I kept writing for the school magazine but never got published. Maybe it was that ache that kept me going and finally got my book published. I learnt a lot as a journalist but that too reached a plateau and then I learnt a lot doing TV shows like CID that became my school for thriller writing.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I have no idea, maybe from the deep desire to tell stories.
What does your typical writing day look like?
When I’m writing I work like a labourer. I don’t believe that I’m doing some great creative work. I work like any other worker for hours and have set deadlines for me.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?
It has to be discipline. I’m not the one to write a book for two years. I finish a book in 4-5 months and that happens when you sit everyday without fail for 6-7 hours and write and write. When I’m writing then even Sundays are working days for me.
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?
Don’t keep dreaming put it on paper. Even if you write one page everyday maybe in 6 months you’ll have a book ready.
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I’m an avid mountaineer and love trekking in Himalayas. I run a lot and can cook and clean.
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
For me writing comes from one’s imagination while Internet is all about information. You can’t create stories out of information so it doesn’t matter much.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?
The only way technology works for an author is to reach out to more readers and get the book available all across the world in other forms, be it an e-book or kindle versions.
Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?
Currently I’m working on my next book. It’s a thriller with international intrigue and has a good mix of religious symbols, history and loads of action and thrills. Also there’s a film that we’ll start shooting soon.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Every day I try to break away from this conditioning that people call influence. All inspiration leads to plagiarism. So I have stopped reading thrillers and read more of literary works that I don’t write. I read Tolstoy and Murakami and know that I can never write like them. It breaks down whatever I have learnt from others and I deliberately keep away from people who tell you what is right and what is wrong? I have to find my own truth.
One observation or criticism about BoB was that the female lead does not come across as a strong and independent woman – comment?
Well each reader looks, thinks and interprets the book differently. There are readers who loved it and had no problems whatsoever. For me the female lead had a certain purpose and that was to work as a force to push the protagonist into action. Yes she herself might not be doing the action and stunts doesn’t mean that she is not relevant. Her insights, her expertise in kinesics, her observations and all provide a thrust to the narrative and to the male lead. Its like saying what does Watson do with Sherlock Holmes. He is almost like a bouncing board and hardly comes handy. My female lead is an expert in her own way and puts her expertise to use as per the demand of the story.
You have written screenplays for several movies; now you’ve written your first novel. Which do you find challenging? Which do you find more satisfying?
Both have their own challenges and are totally different mediums. A film script has to very visual as it will be shot and the story will be told through visuals and the dialogue. A novel definitely gives me much more satisfaction. As in writing a film script a whole set of people are involved be it the director, producer, actor, cameramen and others. However in a novel the author himself takes the role of a director, actor, producer and cameramen. He himself is solely responsible for the book. The movie depends on so many factors but a novel only on author.
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