The Assassination of Rajat Gandy
Author : Anurag Anand
Publisher : Readomania
Politics has always been a tricky knotty business and commenting on it even worse. The Assassination of Rajat Gandy is a quick read that takes you to the underbelly of the communal riots and the Hindu-Muslim divide that has been perpetually creating a chasm in the politics of the country, mixing religion and politics in an ugly mesh, causing loss of lives.
The book provides a peek into the minds and psyche of the people who run the show from up there in the government. The reader would find the usage of names very interesting. From Rajat Gandy, Madam (no prizes for guessing who that could be!), Ajit Seth, to Sachin Jaywardhan and my absolute favorite till now- Arunabh Gosain! It is a wonderful interplay on contemporary characters and their conduct in a fictional set up. Things are, of course, derived from the real world of politics but at the same time, have been contrived to reflect incidents and happenings that haven’t occurred and may or may not happen.
When Afsha Khan, a leading political correspondent gets kidnapped right after the communal riots that threaten to tear the secular fabric of the country just before elections, the environment begins to boil and the bigwigs start to take notice. Who has the upper hand in ordering the assassination of the prime ministerial candidate? What relation does that have to the biggest scam one has seen in the country till now? Troll attacks, communal uprisings, kidnapping and sudden accidents leading to the deaths of significant players in the game of political thrones make up this suspenseful potboiler.
Let’s have a chat with the author himself and find out what he has to say about his latest political thriller:
Aashisha Chakraborty: A burning question that perhaps every reader will have after reading the title of this book- is there any basis for the biggest incident happening in the book? Is it inspired by some actual circumstance?
Anurag Anand: Well, the relationship between facts and fiction is a strange one. More often than not, the two are found jostling to mirror each other. This is exactly the relationship that my book, The Assassination of Rajat Gandy, shares with all that’s unfolding in the Indian political arena today.
However, the story of my book does draw partially from the prevailing political situation in the country. And this, when garnished with some degree of logic and common sense, makes for a plot that might appear inspired, or even a source of inspiration sometimes, for what we end up reading in the papers.
AC: What made you give away the major plot of the book in the title itself?
AA: The title of the book does give away the central theme of the story, but it intends to keep the readers guessing on the why, who, how and what of it. The objective is to draw readers who are interested in mysteries and whodunnits in general and political thrillers in particular, and if the initial response to the book is anything to go by, it has been received well by the readers.
AC: The pharma scam- how much truth is there to it?
AA: The pharma scam is entirely fictional, unless of course there is something transpiring behind closed doors that the investigating agencies and media are yet to get a whiff of. The thought, however, was triggered by the ensuing debate around the right of multinational companies to charge a premium for their patented drugs much in excess of the production costs. This is a tough one, for if their commercial prospects are curtailed, it acts as a deterrent for them to invest behind research, and if they are allowed a free reign the drugs remain beyond the reach of the masses.
AC: How difficult was it for you to keep from taking the side of a particular political party in the book?
AA: It wasn’t all that difficult, simply because I am personally not a big fan of unconditional alignment of ideologies with any political party or leader. In fact, the trend of hero worship that seems to be consuming political dialogues lately is toxic and unwarranted. We can witness this toxicity play out in debates on social media and other forums at an alarming regularity today. I believe that as informed citizens of the country, it is our duty to view every action of the government on its merit, irrespective of any biases we might harbor for or against the political entity in power.
As for the story of The Assassination of Rajat Gandy, you will find that I have donned the hat of a demanding and somewhat cynical Indian while writing it. So, if anything, both principal political parties – as and when they run short of pressing issues to focus their attention on – can come up with something or the other that doesn’t agree with them.
AC: Did you face any difficulty in getting this theme to publishers or getting the book out?
AA: Of course, I did. It’s a sad reality of the publishing industry that commerce takes precedence over everything else, even a good story. The decision makers are only too happy to keep away from anything having the remotest likelihood of stirring up a controversy. So, while I had obtained prior legal opinion on the manuscript of The Assassination of Rajat Gandy, two leading publication houses turned it down in the final stages of discussions. That’s where I would want to commend my current publisher, Readomania – a relatively new publication house, but passionate about bringing good and relevant stories to their readers – for taking up the project.
AC: Your bio states that you have dabbled in all genres. Did you intend that from the start? How has that experience been?
AA: Writing, to me, has always been very personal. It’s not a mere vocation or just a medium of expression for me, but a near-cathartic passion that makes me who I am. While I didn’t embark on this journey with a clear plan around whether I will write in one or multiple genres, I was certain that I didn’t want to restrain my writing. Thankfully, I have managed to keep it that way and write on subjects that I feel like writing about thus far. I can only pray that it remains so in the future.
There have been instances when I have been counselled by people more accomplished and informed than I am, about the need and importance of carving your own niche as an author. I respect their views and good intent, but as long as my readers are not complaining, I am happy to let things remain the way they are.
AC: How did you start writing? How has the journey been up till now?
AA: I have been a voracious reader for as far back as I can remember. So, writing was a natural offshoot of my love for the written word. At a very early age, I would contribute articles to my school magazine and be elated to see my compositions in print. The euphoria I experienced then has not quite waned, and it is the need to experience it again and again that perhaps keeps me going.
My journey as an author has been a mixed bag, moments of exultations peppered by times of haplessness and despair, but I am not complaining. Each low that I have experienced has left me stronger, and I cherish them as much as I treasure my moments of glory.
AC: How much research did you have to put in for the book?
AA: A fair bit of research went behind the book, but not so much around politics and the machinations that make it. I have been fortunate enough to observe this world at close quarters and hence it didn’t prove much of a challenge to deal with. My research was primarily centered around technology and how it is likely to evolve in the future, making it a potent weapon in the hands of the nefarious and the ill-intentioned. This is a fear that we live with on an everyday basis, and to be able to weave it seamlessly into the plot of the book, I had to spend a fair bit of time perusing recent developments in this space.
AC: Did your corporate job ever come in the way of writing or vice versa? How did you manage both the professions?
AA: It does become a challenge sometimes, as your personal passions have to take a back seat when pitted against the demands of the workplace. There are several abandoned manuscripts resting in my hard drive which stand testimony to this necessity of prioritization that a day job brings. However, if you happen to be working with an organization that supports individual creativity and colleagues who partake in your successes, the balance becomes much simpler to attain. I have been extremely fortunate so far in this regard.
AC: Any messages for aspiring writers?
AA: I see aspiring authors often worrying about aspects like how their work will get published or how should they go about marketing it, even before they have set pen to paper. My sincere advice to them would be to focus on the one thing that an author is supposed to do – write and write well. A good manuscript will find its takers and churning out the best that we can needs to remain our primary agenda.
Of course, another vital suggestion – read as much as you can, it helps you in more ways than you can imagine. And if you are looking for recommendations, you might want to get your hands on The Assassination of Rajat Gandy.
AC: That was a wonderful exchange, I must say! I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. I am sure the readers loved the extra bytes about the journey of the book. All the best for your current as well as further endeavors!