Novoneel Chakraborty is an author, fiction writer and scriptwriter. His first book “A Thing beyond forever” released in 2008 received instant fame and won the national bestseller tag within a few months of its release. Since then, he gave 8 best sellers bak-to-back. He has also written for some of the best TV shows for youth including Million Dollar Girl (Channel V), Twist Waala Love (Channel V), Secret Diaries (Channel V), Pyaar Tuney Kya Kiya (Zing TV), Savdhaan India (Life OK), etc.
In an exclusive interview with The Policy Times, Novoneel Chakraborty talks about India literature, why Indian novels are not globally accepted, his novels and his advise to budding writers.
Q. Since your first romantic thriller “A Thing beyond forever”, you have given 8 best sellers, what made you choose and specialise in romantic thriller?
Answer: I believe an author doesn’t choose a genre. The genre chooses the author. Telling stories encapsulates so much of an individual’s way of seeing things that it becomes difficult to alter it when it comes to expressing the perception. When I wrote my first book I simply went with my instinct. I wrote and told the story the way I thought it would read the best. As I wrote more books I realised the element of ‘OMG, what’s next!’ is an quintessential part of my storytelling. That made sure that my books had a thriller tinge to it. Along with the fact that I love to explore intricacies of human relationships. The two facts came together and made me tell stories in the ‘Romantic Thriller’ genre.
Q. Can obsession be called love? If not then what love is exactly?
Answer: Obsession, at best, can be a subset of an strong attraction. And attraction may not always be love.
I believe when it comes to love it is very difficult to generalise anything. It is an universal emotion, alright, but always a personal experience. For me, personally, love is an emotional adventure where you gain some, you lose some.
Q. How much inclusion of sexuality is justified when you have been criticized for your blunt portrayal of sex in your works?
Answer: I have never understood why people (not all, thankfully) have numerous complaints when it comes to sex scenes in a novel. Of course I’m not talking about forced sex scenes but then whether a scene is forced or not will always be debatable. What I have come to understand is since we grow up in a sexually closed society it is always an uncomfortable subject. Even if two characters get intimate people, more often than not, react like: what’s the need? I know of people who deliberately skip the sexual part in a novel. They have all the right to, of course, but I feel this could also be because we as readers judge a story’s characters for not what they are but how we are. We seem to see a character with our own moralistic lens. We aren’t trained enough to be objective about anything leave aside sex. I shall include sexuality whenever I as a storyteller feel its necessary. Rest criticism will always be there. When one’s work is for public consumption, one has to be ready for that. In the end one should do what one believes in.
Q. You made some of the best television serials and programmes by now. Why the transition from fiction writer to a screenwriter when screen writing has a lot to do with entertainment rather than creativity?
Answer: Not that entertainment and creativity can’t go hand in hand. But television writing in India, in my opinion, is the only place where mediocre writing can fetch you oodles of money. And that’s precisely my motivation for writing television. I don’t really seek any creative solace while doing television and thus it doesn’t frustrate me either. Most importantly television writing comes really easy to me. I don’t have to burn my grey cells much like I do while writing a novel or a film script.
Q. As you depict, your characters are neither good nor bad. How much our own fallacies are responsible for tuning our character?
Answer: I like to see people as neither good or bad. I think everyone of us are both potential angels and devils. We are majorly a victim of a situation. And some times it is the situation which digs out our deepest and darkest desire and puts it into action. Also, keeping the characters neither good or bad makes me feel I’m creating something real. Of course, since they are my characters a lot part of my own persona reflects in them but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am what my characters are.
Q. Why have our writers still not been successful in creating a long-lasting impact internationally? Is it creativity or something else?
Answer: Firstly, most of us write derived English language. We read a lot of English novels, or watch American television series, internalise (consciously or sub consciously) how those people talk and then churn it out as it is since English is not our mother tongue. So language wise, especially in the commercial fiction zone, we shall never be colloquial enough for international readers. Secondly, lack of brutally original storyline is one thing which forces us to play the ‘catching up’ game all the time. Most of the stories we tell in the commercial fiction zone have been told already. If we want an international reader to choose us over any other international book then we also need to look at what are we providing them. If I am picking up a Japanese thriller I know it will have something which is a personalty of the country. Such personality has not been developed by us yet when it comes to English language novels. That’s why I believe regional writers have a better chance of going international via translation because they still have some Indian personality in their stories. Thirdly, we are at the bottom of the hype cycle. The outside (western) hype can seep in and become a rage here but an internal hype doesn’t go beyond us. For example a ‘Gone Girl’ may be a rage here because it has garnered enough hype outside. But something like a ‘Stranger Trilogy’ would not go outside even if its popular in India because the ‘system’ doesn’t function that way. Sometimes I think a ‘Gone Girl’ or a ‘Da Vinci Code’, if it was written by an Indian, would have died a quick death after being labelled as something unrealistic. Just a personal opinion.
Q. How much the philosophical selection of choices are going to make our life subtle when we have been an easy prey of practicality?
Answer: During my management studying days I learnt about this concept of Machiavellian Quotient. It varies from person to person. It really depends on us how much we want to make choices as per philosophy or practicality. I feel its really a bent of mind thing. One can’t bring oneself to take a philosophical choice if he or she has a practical core. Vice versa. As long as one isn’t bitter or guilty about anything I think it is to each his own.
Q. Your works cover betrayal and revenge. Is there any inspiration from our social and practical life?
Answer: The revenge element I guess happens because I’m a true blue Scorpion and we are inherently revengeful. In fact if you look closely betrayal, in any form, has seeped in so much into our daily lives that I guess there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been betrayed some way or the other. Not that I intentionally seek out plots which have these elements but somewhere they do feature in my story though they aren’t always the spine of the story.
Q. What is your next venture? Is it going to be love and romance or something else?
Answer: The next book of mine is releasing in August 2017. It is a dark-romance thriller. An impossible love story between an 18 year old girl and a 33 year old man with the core of the story taken from a real life incident.
Q. What is your advise to young authors beside reading and writing a lot?
Answer: I would say knowing what you exactly want as an author is important. If you just want fame by becoming an author then there’s a particular way of doing things. And if you want to tell stories which you believe in then the path is different. Above all, be objective and never be rigid about any ideology you internalise. There’s always a reality beyond our realm of what we think is real. Be open. Be clay, not a pot.