Author Interview · Uncategorized

Author Interview | Mukul Ranjan, Author of Cold Cock

Cold Cock by Mukul Ranjan is an honest portrayal of the television industry and seeks to uncover the hard reality behind the silver screens. It attempts to bring out the ugly truth of race for success, lust, and numbers that dominate this industry.

In a candid conversation with Bookish Fame, Mukul Ranjan talked about his book, his writing, his thoughts on being an author, and his future plans.

  • Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello, dear reader, my name is Mukul Ranjan. I’m a director and screenwriter working in Mumbai’s Hindi movie and television industry. I’ve scripted and directed several movies, TV shows and documentaries. I’m a humanities graduate and have a Master’s degree in journalism. I also write blogs, regularly on my website: maverickyogicom.wordpress.com

I love telling stories and that is why after my degree instead of journalism, I gravitated towards screenwriting in Mumbai’s movie industry.

  • When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Honestly, it has been a long journey as a writer. I started as a budding poet and a short story writer when I was in school. The first book that I remember reading as a child was Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. For some unknown reason, my dad used to gift me books while he gifted toys to my other siblings. During my school days, I used to read lots of spiritual, religious, autobiographies, biographies and revolutionary books, sitting for hours in different libraries in my hometown, Bhagalpur.

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By revolutionary books I mean, available literature on great revolutionaries like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Khudiram Bose, Bagha Jatin, Master Da (Surya Sen), Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Aurbindo Ghosh, Tilka Manjhi, Birsa Munda, Subhash Chandra Bose etc. I used to spend time at the spot where Britishers had hanged great revolutionary, Tilka Manjhi. Some days I used to visit the house where Rabindra Nath Tagore had written some parts of his famous book, Gitanjali. So, I was a normal kid with an unusual childhood suffused with books, books and some more books!

During my plus two years, my stories and articles used to be published in various newspapers, and magazines and broadcast on the radio. (Smiles) I used to get perfumed letters from my female fans for my published stories! My dad was perplexed, for obvious reasons. He didn’t know what was the fuss all about? My dad was a university professor and HOD, by the way. So, all those years, mother nature was training me to write or rather, pushing me brick by brick, to be a writer.

  • What inspires you to write books? What are the things which catch your attention?

This is quite an interesting question. Well, I would say, everything. Now, don’t get me wrong. Listen to this carefully. An unexpected smile, a fleeting glance, regular behaviour by irregular weather, nuanced looks, sudden jumping by a docile and obedient cow, unfiltered conversation with strangers – I mean, anything. An outstation Uber driver breaks into a wide grin when I tip him heavily. Small, little, innocent things and gestures.

By temperament, I am a very patient person. Plus, I’m a keen observer as mentioned above. You can check my level of patience, with me observing a flowing river for hours, uninterrupted, without looking at my watch once! I love conversing with old people and small kids. They teach you a lot, unknowingly. Kids have a different take on life and objects of interest around them, sheer innocence. Whereas old people know so much about the times gone by, in minute details. Inspiration can come from any random source. I will give you an example. My friend, Iltija once told me that her grandparents used to have arguments every morning, almost. Her grandmother could not sleep without the air conditioner working and her grandfather could not sleep with the a c being on. Finally, a peace formula was worked out. While going to the bed, the old lady used to switch on the a c. After she was fast asleep, the old man would switch it off. I am thinking of writing a book around this seasoned love!

  • Tell me something in brief about your book? How long did it take you to write it?

Cold Cock | Mukul Ranjan | Book Review

My book took a year plus some months to write. The idea was to base my book around the rise and fall of an organisation. I wanted to make this building/office (BIRHA) a living, breathing character in my book. During the brainstorming sessions with myself, initially, I thought of setting my book inside an STD booth (from the early 90s), a nursery for plants, a spoken English coaching centre or a plastic bucket manufacturing factory! I finally settled on a regional TV channel.

  • What were some of the challenges while writing and publishing your book?

I will answer the second part of your question first. Well, I am seriously thinking of writing a book on the challenges of getting your book published! So, I’ll concentrate on the first part, now. I have always been a writer, writing in different formats. So, writing my book was a smooth breeze. My challenge was of a different kind, altogether. After finishing my first draft of my manuscript, I discovered to my sheer horror, that the final word count exceeded 100,000 words plus!

Now, Khyati, you know, how it is with first-time novelists. They are in love with each and every word that they have written in their manuscript. This is where I got saved with my years of training and experience as a director. A director is responsible to his audience and to the script. He keeps the essential, interesting, engaging and entertaining parts of the footage and chucks out the boring, repetitive and pages filling kinda writing. (Laughs aloud) I donned the gloves of a surgeon, metaphorically speaking and edited out the uninspiring, non-happening chunks, mercilessly! So, now my novel stands lean, thin and healthy at 178 pages, phew! Brevity counts and how?

  • Do you have a set routine for writing or does it vary? And how do you manage it with your full-time work?

Usually, I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning. After pranayama, brisk walk, shower and pooja, I sit down to write. If my studio is far I manage to write for one or two hours in the morning. And if the studio is closed the writing goes on for three to four hours. If I’m home early in the evening or night I write again for an hour or two in the night. I catch up on my reading while commuting to and fro to the studio or on weekends or holidays.

  • How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

Khyati, please allow me to rephrase this question. Being the kind of person that you are how has it helped you as a writer? Okay, let me answer it, now. I am a cool, patient and deep thinking person. On my school’s wall, it was written – quick to hear and slow to speak. It has stayed with me all these years. I was an impromptu storyteller in my school. When the teacher was unwell or something he used to call me, to tell a fresh story to the class. I would happily take the stage. My dad taught geography to his PG students but he had equal command over English literature. One of my English teachers could speak for hours in Sanskrit! So, now I believe, my house, my school, my city, my nature, everything was planning to make me a writer.

  • What was one of the most surprising and interesting things you learned while creating your book?

Writing a book is like reaching Mount Everest! Small characters appear on the pages and demand attention. One needs to keep a track of several rivulets that one has created. The pace of flow, turns, fall, impediments, and every small detail needs to be kept in focus. The trajectory of the flow is of special significance. Writing this novel has been quite a revelation to me.

While writing this manuscript, I had a working title. But, after I finished the manuscript, I was trying to find another title. Some months passed and I could not find the title for my book. Look, Khyati, I sincerely believe that if you have got an apt title for your book, half the battle is won. One full year passed and I had completely forgotten about my manuscript with no title. One night, I was watching a boxing bout in some tournament. The commentator shrieked up in joy while saying excitedly – oh dear, oh dear, Gregory has coldcocked him! The match was over and voila, I got the title – COLD COCK!

  • Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

Yes, I read a lot. To name a few from a big lot is really tough but I will tell you. Ayn Rand, Phaneeshwar Nath Renu, Richard Bach, Premchand, Khaled Hosseini, Nirmal Verma, Robert Ludlum, Bimal Mitra, Jhumpa Lahiri, Acharya Chatursen Shastri, Kunal Basu, Gabriela Garcia Marquez, Jeffrey Archer, Sunny Singh and Hari Mohan Jha are some of my favourite authors.

  • According to you, how has the landscape of reading changed over the years? Do you think reading books is still in vogue?

Reading books will always remain popular. But the ways of reading have gone under transformation. It has changed in several ways. In our ancient nation, we had shruti tradition along with reading and writing. Tales and tomes used to be narrated and memorised by the followers. Look carefully, we are reaching there again. In my childhood, I used to read mainly in libraries. Even in the market, my first visit would be to the book shops. Things have changed now, for good. Now, we have a whole lot of options to choose from. Physical books, online books, graphic books, audiobooks – you wish them and they are there. I really believe it’s a win-win situation for readers as well as writers too.

  • Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

I believe, a writer has to be a keen observer first and then anything else. She or he needs to have a fantastic memory. My teachers used to tell me, to read 75 per cent, and write 25 per cent. In order to write one has to read a lot. If somebody has a very interesting story or thought, one should go ahead and write it. The more you write the more it will help you to better yourself!

  • Are we going to hear more from you in the future?

Yes, most definitely. I’m ideating on two manuscripts right now. Let’s see which one races ahead. I’m waiting for my publisher’s response and what my readers have to say about my debut novel. Another thing that I wish to say is, that I read critical reviews and negative reviews more carefully. I read them once a month only to see what or rather why they did not like the book. It’s really, really important to remain grounded and in touch with reality. Negative reviews prepare me better and make my resolve stronger for my second inning of batting or book.

*We wish Author Mukul Ranjan all the best for his future endeavors.*


Connect with the author:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/mukul.ranjan.7549

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.co/in/mukul-ranjan-1354621b1

Instagram – @magicalmukul

Koo – @mysticmukul

Twitter – @mukulrnjn

Website/Blog – maverickyogicom.wordpress.com

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