Monarch of Surprises – Tuhin Sinha
India’s Maverick Author – Politician who juggles both careers with elan
One of India’s most charming politician, gifted orator, and prolific author shares the magic for writing through his mind and manner. Tuhin Sinha comes across as pie in the sky.
Tuhin A. Sinha is a best-selling author, columnist and a scriptwriter. His books, That Thing Called Love, The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love and Politics and The Edge of Desire breaking new ground is widely acclaimed and read among his 10 released titles. Tuhin is also a scriptwriter of several popular TV shows. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly In India’s leading dailies. Tuhin also has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. When he finds time from all of these, you might catch him on a news channel representing BJP on most national issues.
Tell us about the latest book you’ve published?
The book, “When the Chief Fell in Love: Kashmiriyat, Jamhooryiat, Insaniyat, Hindustaniyat” is my latest novel. The political thriller discusses important emotions of the people from a particular arena embedded interestingly in a fiction story that involves high-level politicians and army officers. The book follows the story of Vihaan and Zaira, who fall in love with each other, which is a problem because Vihaan is the defense minister of the country while Zaira is the daughter of a pro-Pakistan Separatist leader.
The narrative begins in the year 1991, with one futuristic chapter set in 2030. “The way lovers interact when they are 20 years old when they are 32, and then 45-46, vary. The emotions are so different, as they are at different stages of life. Writing that bit was challenging. In terms of the sheer trajectory involving emotions, geography, and the number of years covered, it was one hell of a task, and as usual, the media makes a sensational story “What’s cooking with the Defence Minister and the separatist’s Leader’s daughter?” This is where, there’s a twist and a turn, thumping our hearts as Vihaan, the Defence Minister faces the irony and the newspapers hunted with an eagle eye for a prey. Interesting! And, the storyline moves on with a page turner for which, you got to read the book.”
“What’s cooking with the Defence Minister and the separatist’s Leader’s daughter?”
What was the idea behind adding “Hindustaniyat” to the slogan of ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee – Kashmiriyat, Jamhooryiat, Insaniyat?
Each of those words –Kashmiriyat (a distinctive cultural identity), Jamhooriyat( democracy) and Insaniyat (humaneness) is crucial in finding a solution to the Kashmir issue represents the solution. But the most critical component is Hindustaniyat. The first three words can only exist with the tenets of Indian nationhood and culture. It may sound uphill and even somewhat impractical, but that is the only foolproof solution. I don’t want to spell it out here. Read the book for a better idea.
What inspired you to write on such a sensitive issue and that too a love story?
Well, as a writer and now a politician too, I can’t shy away from my social responsibilities however artistically I portray the new perspective. I can’t shirk serious issues. Even my past books dwelt upon sensitive issues. The Edge of Desire was created around the issue of women’s safety and emancipation in India. 22 Yards exposed the underbelly of contemporary international cricket.
For research, I spoke to a lot of people either in Kashmir or those who have followed the developments in Kashmir closely over the past three decades. Besides, I must have scanned at least 100 articles on the history of Kashmir, especially of the last 300-400 years. I derive my inspiration from unsuspecting incidents. Some which I read in papers and others which I see happening around me.
Pria adds a line from his novel – “No amount of research or official meetings could give one a glimpse of the truth on the ground”. While reading the book, you come across various interesting lines. Only a person who did his research well can come up with such professional line.
Bringing in light the “new perspectives” has been your choice. Don’t you fear controversies?
A writer’s job is to “throw up new perspectives”. Ideas need to be seen, even if you don’t agree with them. Why do we shy away from controversies? The point is, as a society we tend to be restrictive. I say,” One should believe in what one says and don’t think about controversies.”
Do you always wish to become a writer?
Writing for me happened serendipitously. It wasn’t something I had planned. But after my first book “That Thing Called Love” which is against the backdrop of Mumbai monsoons and explores relationships in the contemporary urban set up of the city, in the phase of changing moralities. The book went on to become a runaway success. Every writer has to figure out what works best — and often has to select and discard different tools before they find the one that fits. I made a conscious effort to raise the bar with every consecutive book, exploring newer themes and genres. I believe unpredictable writings makes ones work more breathtaking.
Did you ever wish to change a situation or a character, once the book was published?
I have grown with every book of mine. And this growth or improvement would be visible to anybody who has read all my books. So while I would want to re-visit certain characters or situations I have created in the past, on second thoughts I am also very possessive of them and would much rather let them be the way they are.
I believe unpredictable writings makes ones work more breathtaking.
With so many books to your credit which one is closer to your heart?
My latest one, “When the Chief Fell in Love” is my favorite, though “The Edge of Desire” (followed the story of a rape survivor, who goes on to become the top leader in the country.) is also very close to my heart. But what makes “When the Chief Fell in Love” very special is the sheer trajectory in terms of years that the story covers — geography, political landscape, and emotions. The story starts in 1990 in Delhi, travels to Mexico, Mumbai, Kashmir, Delhi again and then finally to Kashmir. The relationship between the protagonists goes through its twists and turns and the political landscape at its own vagaries. The blend of romance and politics has been most seamless in this book, compared to my other political thrillers and the book hints towards a fresh solution to the Kashmir issue, even if it’s unconventional and controversial.
“The point is, as a society we tend to be restrictive. I say,” One should believe in what one says and don’t think about controversies.”
Some writers describe themselves as planners, while others plunge right into the writing. Would you consider yourself a planner or a plunger?
I am a bit of both. Just that most of my planning happens in my brain. But it’s so clear that once I start writing, more often than not, I am stuck to that planning and have successfully pulled off the book without significant changes.
Would you like to give any message for the readers of Storizen?
I like to use the word ‘well-wishers’. Just want to thank them wholeheartedly. Without their support, this journey would not have been possible. I derive my strength from them.
Storizen wishes Tuhin a great success and would like to add that amidst the political scenarios that are frustrating and fights between those with opposing views are off-the-wall (at times). But sometimes — as shown in novels — sparring sides can develop into an opposite-attract scenario. Featuring romances can develop across political aisles a perfect read when one reminds self that the world of politics doesn’t always create divisions!
Love conquers all.
We leave you with the original poem used in the book which makes the female protagonist, Zaira Bhat’s character more alluring and gives a poetic feel to the whole narrative.
I look into the mirror
And I see a face which looks so dear
Eyes which are moist,
Yet so clear
Lips though they wear a smile
Yet not real
A voice from within
Which I always hear
It gives me a pain which is sweet
Yet I fear
A void which is always there
Hope someday it is filled with love and care. (Penned by : Bhavna Berry)
(As told to Pria)