Meet Play Writer – Rajesh Talwar
Welcome to yet another session with one of the Veteran writers of the industry Mr. Rajesh Talwar. We know him as a talented author but very few of us know about his credentials as a play writer. So join me in knowing this amazing play writer.
Welcome Sir and I am glad to have you today on this platform. So far you have written many books and that too in multiple genres. Which genre attracts you the most?
Thank you for inviting me for an interview once again. Yes, it’s true that I have written in multiple genres including novels, plays, children’s books, self-help, non-fiction and so on. With roughly thirty-four books out in different genres, if you asked me, it would be hard to pick a favourite title among them. It would be like asking a parent to choose one child over another. I would say the same thing about choosing a genre. Having said that, as a writer I like to stretch myself and am always attracted by a challenge. So, for instance, I haven’t as yet published a short story collection although I love reading them. At the moment you could say that’s a genre I’m attracted to since I haven’t properly attempted it yet!
What is that X factor that instigates you to take up a subject to represent through your book?
I would enjoy it if after a reader reads one of my books, he has a new way of looking at the subject I have written the book on. For instance, an important theme running through my novel Simran is aesthetics. Although it’s a novel, I discuss human ideas of beauty and ugliness in it, and I would like it if the reader’s perspective on this issue is enriched in some way after reading the book. So, I guess the X factor would be: do I honestly believe I have a new or fresh perspective to offer? Does the world need this book? For instance, after I read through the three different enquiry reports on Subhash Bose’s death, I was convinced that there was sufficient evidence to show that there was no death in an air crash, and in fact there was no air crash itself. After that I simply had to write on the subject. I do believe that a reader of my book The Vanishing of Subhash Bose will gain a fresh understanding of what really happened.
How important is reader satisfaction for an author and in your case how do you determine it?
Its very important for any author. The independent reviews that readers post on Amazon and on their blogs will help you determine the level of reader satisfaction. Expert opinion matters too. For instance, there was a positive review left recently for one of my children’s books what was penned by a child! Now, that was an expert opinion in my view, worth more than an adult’s view or critic’s view of the book. Personally, I believe I would be unhappy if I managed to please the critics with a certain book but left readers dissatisfied. Ideally, of course, you do well with both the critics and the general reader!
Novel, short story, poetry or play…. which one do you love reading the most and also writing?
I think it all depends on who I am reading. Like most readers, it’s easier for me to enjoy reading novels and short stories than it is to read plays and poetry. Or rather I should say that poetry and plays are more challenging formats, and a writer has to be really a master at his craft for me to enjoy his poetry or play as the case may be. There has never been a question in my mind, for instance, that Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali is a real masterpiece. The first time I read the collection of poems it was almost like a spiritual experience. I was speaking a bit earlier about wanting to stretch myself as a writer, and how I haven’t yet published a collection of short stories. Some day I do hope to write something truly poetic as well, but that for me represents an even bigger challenge than the short story format. I honestly don’t know if I will be up to it.
What has been the most memorable experience you had while writing for your new book?
The writing of How to Kill Everyone on the Planet: Ukraine and Other Recipes for a Nuclear Matricide had already been some time in the making although the recent conflict in the said nation encouraged me to finish that project. As you know I have worked for the United Nations for more than two decades in different countries. A good friend of mine from Germany was working with the UN in UA just before the attack on it. He and many others were eventually evacuated a few days after the war began. With the current crisis in UA, I needed to pen down a few scenes that dealt with the crisis. I also needed to include a scene about the role of the United Nations. When I finished a draft of the play, I sent it to him for comments. As a European who has lived and worked in Kyiv for two years, he thought the UA scenes were terrific. We had discussed the developing situation there on the phone many times while he was still based in Kyiv. I was pleased that he had been able to somehow communicate to me what it was like to be in that nation in the days immediately following the invasion, and I had been able to create an authentic setting for those scenes in my play.
How did theatre come into your life and how it impacted your thought process?
As I mentioned, I am addicted to watching cinema. I would also be addicted to watching plays if only we had enough fresh and innovative scripts being staged on a regular basis. There is good stuff coming out but not enough of it. Unfortunately, even in London, at least in the Leicester Square area, you have all these plays that have been staged for years, decades even and new theatre with fresh material and scripts is mostly shown in just a few theatres where theatre buffs go. I do hope this will change in the future and the general theatre going public will also start to insist on new material. Together with a select few other wannabe playwrights, I was attached to the Blue Elephant Theatre in London for a few months during a time while I was taking a break in between assignments for the United Nations. I recall there was a very bright Italian girl also attached to the theatre’s writing workshop but most of the budding playwrights were British, At the time my play An Unsuitable Girl was also due to be staged there. It’s now available on Kindle with a new title, and a bright and interesting cover by the gifted artist Niharika Singh. The new title is The Bride Who Would Not Burn.
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