‘I am A businessman and my business is writing’
Surendra Mohan Pathak, noted crime fiction writer, gets candid with author Kulpreet Yadav, and divulges the secret to his success
Although he primarily writes crime fiction, Surendra Mohan Pathak is full of humour. During the hour-long discussion with the veteran writer, the audience didn’t find any dull moment — they broke into laughter and clapped for him, every time he spoke. “Mujhe writer mere fans ne banaya hai, publishers ne nahi banaya (I’ve become a writer because of my fans and not because of the publishers),” said Pathak, who has around 300 titles to his credit. Popular for his Hindi crime fiction and the famous Sunil, Sudhir and Vimal, Jeet series, Pathak began his writing career in the ’60s. The author who recently launched his autobiography, Na Bairi Na Koi Begana, takes pride in the fact that he made a journalist his protagonist.
Answering Yadav’s question about his relationship with the readers, Pathak said that he reads all their letters and replies to them. “I have given a lot of attention to my readers hence got a lot of attention from them in return. They are the reason for what I’m today and whatever I have achieved as a writer. Main is baat par nigah rakhta hoon ki mere readers kis baat par khafa hote hain, kya baat unko acchi lagati hai, warna meri innings itni lambi nahin hoti (I keep an eye on what upsets my readers and what they would like to read. Else I wouldn’t have been in the business for this long). I’m not a writer, I’m a businessman and my business is writing. Hence in order to sell what I write, I have to write what people want to read and not what I like to write about. Koi halwayi apne liye mithai nahin banata (no sweet maker makes sweets for himself),” says Pathak.
Some of the books that he has penned are 57 Saal Ka Purana Aadmi, The Colaba Conspiracy, Mujhse Bura Koi Nahin, Daylight Robbery, Palatwaar, Haar Jeet and so on. Apart from the famous series, he also published 26 joke books and a number of novels which had ‘thriller’ in the title.
Talking about one of his most iconic characters Sunil, he says, “Sunil was an investigative journalist who was quixotic and rescued damsels in distress. At that point in time, the publishers weren’t too happy with a journalist becoming a protagonist. They wanted to see police officers, army men etc. become heroes and saviours. But I was adamant that he was this strong investigative journalist. Investigative journalism wasn’t a fad even in the ’70s but I made an investigative journalist a hero in 1963.”
Films often give more exposure and wider reach to an author’s work. Doesn’t he think of getting his writing made into films and web series? “I won’t lie that I want to see my work in web series or in cinema. But whoever approaches me, their ideas are half-baked. They want to earn from my work. When someone comes from a big brand with a big proposal, they come with an expectation that I won’t ask for money. They feel that I will be excited because a Shah Rukh Khan or an Akshay Kumar is approaching you. Besides, they don’t go deep into the book while making them into cinema,” he admits.
When asked if the character is bigger or the plot, he answers, “First comes the intricate plot, and the immediate take off, then characters and a suitable and strong climax. Until I’m convinced about the conclusion, I’ don’t write the book.”