On the write track from Maoist land

Barely 24, a lad from Maoist-infested Imamganj in Bihar, Satyapal Chandra has written 11 novels in the last two years. And now, he is making foray into Bollywood as a script-writer, lyricist and co-director, all rolled into one

At first glance you dismiss him as an ordinary guy. But after a close look, you develop second thoughts -- this ordinary man has some extra-ordinary traits. After all, how come the son of a farmer from Bihar’s Maoist-infested Imamganj, with such a humble background, become a best-selling author in such a short span of time.

Meet Satyapal Chandra, an unsung hero, who has not only penned 11 books in less than two years, but also is fast emerging as one of the most creative and young writers in the country. No wonder, Bollywood is wooing him with a fat pay-cheque, and he has accepted the first offer where he would be the script-writer, lyricists and co-director, all rolled into one.

When Deccan Herald quizzed him about his foray into the glitz and glamour of tinsel town after writing some of the best-selling novels like The Most Eligible Bachelor, The Darkness of Midnight and Women’s Desire, he confirmed he had been signed by a multi-billionaire for his next movie, but refused to share details. “As per the contract, I am not supposed to talk about my debut movie as of now, but once it is ready for release (next year),
I will be more comfortable in sharing details with you,” a reluctant Chandra said.

But talk to him about his novels and writing skills, he will lay bare his heart out. “I came to Delhi in 2007 to pursue graduation. Like every young student from Bihar, I too had a dream of cracking the prestigious civil services examination and eventually become an IAS officer. But destiny had something else in store for me,” said Chandra. After completing his honours from Delhi University, Chandra, like every unemployed youth applied for a job.

“Being good at academics, it fetched me rich dividends. I joined Religare where I worked as assistant manager. But somewhere deep down inside, there was a hunger to write. But initially, my English was not good. Neither written, nor verbal. (Reason being that as I had studied in Hindi medium schools in Bihar and Jharkhand.) But one evening, when I went to a posh hotel in New Delhi, I found a waiter at the restaurant speaking quite fluent English.

He took the orders from those who spoke in English and gave step-motherly treatment to those who communicated in Hindi. It was very embarrassing for me, but at the same time was an eye-opener too. It was at that moment I decided that I must have a command over the Queen’s language. The next six months not only polished my vocabulary, but also changed my fate. I purchased a laptop, and started writing,” he said.

Since Chandra belonged to Bihar’s interior and most-underdeveloped region, he had been an eye-witness to crime, corruption and casteism, besides poverty and
unemployment. It was easy for him to write a fiction, with a tinge of some pers­onal experiences too. “Originally, the first novel which I wrote was We Stupid &
Idiots. But it could not see the light of the day. No publisher was willing to touch it.

Shattered and heart-broken, I was clueless about what to do next when a friend of mine boosted my morale: “Do you know that 32 publishers had initially
rejected the work of eminent writer Amish Tripathi, an IIM graduate? So don’t lose heart, and try again.”

In January 2011, Chandra started to write The Most Eligible Bachelor, which was about terrorism, love and the power of youth. “This time Lady-luck smiled on me. In April 2011, my novel, published by Mahaveer Publications, hit the stands.

After getting a good response, I did not wait for a single day for my other novels. Writing 4,000 words a day became my staple diet,” he continued.

Within the next couple of months, his second novel Golden Angel was in the market. This was followed by a mystery novel The Darkness of Midnight and a romantic one My life Is For You. By this time, he was already signed by Diamond Books. In a joint venture, he wrote another romantic novel For Your Beautiful Dreams, which was co-authored by Nazia Tasneem. By the end of 2011, he had already won accolades for his simple and flawless writing.

Till now, his eight novels have already hit the stands and three are in the publishing stage. “Diamond Books have publis­hed four, while Pigeons and Mahaveer Publications have published two novels each. The rest three are in the print with Diamond Books,” he said, and added that he had focussed on various issues plaguing the youth. “Like for example, I have dealt with crime, corruption and problems of youth in my novel An Innocent Traitor, while I have dwelt at length on urban culture and illicit relationships in Dreams, Revenge and Confession. Similarly, the novel A Crazy Careless Life is based on five youths’ struggle with unemployment, poverty, casteism, corruption and other social evils in Bihar, while Women’s Desire is about three professionals and reflects how lust can rock a marital boat.”

And what are the plans for future? “I will keep on writing one book after another, besides writing scripts and lyrics for movies,” he avers, adding that his next
priority would be to get his family out of the rut in Bihar.

“Bihar has not changed one bit. At least this is what I feel whenever I go to my
native place. The feudal mindset, crime and corruption are some of the stumbling blocks for this State to prosper,” he added.

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