Kitaab interview with Kulpreet Yadav: Thriller genre is poised for a fillip in India


Kulpreet Yadav, Sep 2014Kulpreet Yadav’s latest novel ‘Catching the Departed’ was shortlisted by Hachette-DNA in a contest called ‘Hunt for the Next Bestseller’ and launched at ‘The Arts House, Singapore’ on 18 July 2014. He is the Founder-Editor of Open Road Review, an international literary magazine that has published over 130 writers from 20 countries in the last three years. As a Creative Writing Mentor, Kulpreet has conducted several workshops for aspiring writers in India. Shortlisted numerous times for literary awards, Kulpreet’s stories and essays have appeared in over 30 publications, in India and elsewhere. He has participated in various literary festivals in India and abroad like Asia Pacific Writer’s events at Bangkok in 2012 and Singapore in 2014, Hyderabad Literature Festival, Delhi Literature Festival, Glitterati Gurgaon Art and Literature Festival, etc. He is an invited speaker at Literati fest at IIT Delhi in Sep 14 and at Goa International Writers and Readers Festival in Oct 14.  Kulpreet lives in New Delhi.

Here is an interview with Kulpreet Yadav:

Tell us about your debut novel. Why did you choose to write a thriller? Did you have any models/writers to follow?

Kulpreet Yadav:  ‘Catching the Departed’ is a popular fiction novel. Though my first thriller in a commercial sense, this is not my first novel. The two books that I had written earlier had a literary slant. And so did my collection of short stories. ‘Catching the Departed’ is a spy novel that has an intricate plot and a high entertainment quotient. It reminds us of the imminence of manmade tragedy that surrounds our lives, where money and power are the only remaining elixirs of gratification.

I used to read a lot of thrillers in my school and college days. Mostly James Hadley Chase, Alistair Maclean, Sidney Sheldon, Fredrick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, Leon Uris, Jeffrey Archer, etc. More recently I have been reading Lee Child, David Baldacci, James Patterson, Steig Larsson, John Grisham, etc. I don’t follow a particular writer’s style.

How can you describe ‘Catching the Departed’ in three sentences?

An embodiment of eternal patriotism, Andy Karan, the protagonist of ‘Catching the Departed’, reminds us that nothing else matters.  This is the story of a young Indian spy in his late twenties taking on a bigger, more vicious and powerful enemy. 

Kulpreet Yadav, Catching the DepartedThe Karan part of Andy Karan’s name has been derived from the epic Mahabharata as mentioned in the novel. According to you what does Karan embody?

Karan was an unsung hero in the epic Mahabharata. Born to an unwed mother, he faced the ire and brunt of his teachers and family members for no fault of his. Yet as a warrior, he never switched sides and kept his word, finally paying a price with his life. In ‘Catching the Departed’ Andy Karan embodies loyalty, trustworthiness and courage—attributes that are mirrored by the young Indian generation.

Monica as a former model and a desperate journalist appears edgy and insecure in the novel. Are single women in India in their mid-thirties disillusioned in search of their rightful place in an evolving society?

This is a very relevant question. The society is evolving, yes, at least in terms of education and wealth. But as always, the minds are the last to change. Indian society can be best described as quasi-tolerant when it comes to women. Monica is the perfect example of a young Indian woman losing her way in search of love and identity in a society mired by hypocrisy and gender-bias.

You bring out the ‘dirty bomb’ in your book. Not exactly an Armageddon, but it sure can cause no less havoc. You think there is such a possibility in India in the near future?

Dirty bomb is a reality. The security apparatus of any nation can only ignore this at its own peril. Before 9/11, the idea of planes crashing deliberately into buildings would have been labeled as prophesy listed in some drunk sage’s diary.  The desperation of those outside the circle of influence to gather wealth, or when not in power, is palpable. The innovative terrorist strikes in the recent times are proof enough. Why just India, the entire world’s security is at risk like never before.

Filmmakers are on the lookout for interesting thrillers. Is this novel appropriate for a screen adaptation? Would you change anything to make it more screen friendly?

I am answering this question in practically every interview. Yes, the book can easily be adapted into a suspense movie. I think an adaptation into a movie will take this story to more people, which as a storyteller, I think is an exciting extension. The twists in the plot are enough to engage the readers/viewers, and therefore I don’t think any major change to the plot is necessary.

How difficult was it for you get a publisher for this novel, especially being a new writer?

Since I am represented by a literary agent, it wasn’t difficult. I had to wait for several months though after signing the contract.

How have the readers responded to the book? Any interesting anecdotes?

The novel was launched at Singapore on 18 July and it reached the number 1 position on 17 Aug on Amazon India (Thrillers and Mystery) in exactly one month. Most of the readers have liked the book. This is a genre fiction novel. The Indian critics have a tendency to favour literary fiction and have a complete dislike for popular fiction. I am not expecting their support—no successful, bestselling author in the last decade had. I write for readers and for the moment they are happy.

There are not many good thriller writers in India. How do you see the thriller scene in India?

Thriller genre is poised for a fillip. I have noticed the youngsters want thrillers. Some of the writers from the western world are already doing well in India. This is a good sign for someone like me.

What do you plan to write next?

Andy Karan is a series of three books. Book two is called ‘Drowning the Pirate’ and book 3, ‘Eating the Dragon’. I will also continue to write short fiction for literary magazines.

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