🏆 SALISMANIA CHOICE AWARDS 2023 NOMINEE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mukul Ranjan is a director and screenwriter in the Hindi film industry. His origins lie in Bihar’s Madhubani district. He is a humanities graduate from Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University.
Later he took his Master’s degree in Journalism from Mumbai University. Journalism was not his calling as he considers himself primarily a raconteur.
He started his career as a screenwriter with a Hindi film. He has written and directed several movies, documentaries, and TV shows.
Singing, traveling and working towards sustainable living are his hobbies. COLD COCK is his debut novel.
EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your book Cold Cock?
Cold Cock is a masala entertainer and sort of an unpredictable joyride. This novel is about people working in the entertainment industry - their dreams, fears, frustrations, exploitation, relationships and other sundry surprising elements.
Q. What inspired this particular story?
In my three decades long journey as a writer I had indulged myself in all formats of writing. Novel was still unexplored for me. I decided to write a novel.
I was getting haunted by an image or a cartoon or a photo seen in my childhood. A young man is sitting on a thick branch of a tree and he is trying to cut that same branch with his axe.
As a germ this image started haunting me again and again when I set out to begin work on my novel.
So, I cracked a plot about some individuals forming an organisation or a company and later on, they begin destabilising and dismantling their very own company and having great fun while doing so!
Initially, I set up this novel in a S.T.D booth (from early 90’s) with seven employees handling ten telephones. Then I shifted the backdrop to a nursery with wilting plants.
It got shifted again to an English speaking institute in a small town where both the tutors and students have the same amount of knowledge of this language. I was not happy, something was not looking right.
So, I changed the novel’s backdrop to a plastic bucket manufacturing factory in Vasai (a distant suburb of Mumbai). This was not working out at all.
What was I missing? And, then I discovered – I was missing the mounting and scale of this novel. I came back to my professional world and set this novel in a television channel.
Bingo, it worked and worked bigtime for me. I got everything – glamour, passionate characters, weird situations, razzmatazz, ego trips and most important, lingo. My novel had got a perfect launchpad!
It took me around 15 months to finish my manuscript. The first draft of it contained 1,36,000 words plus. It took me three months to knock off several uninteresting and detailed paragraphs.
I removed two chapters too. Now, it looked lean and strong.
Q. Any specific reason for naming your book "Cold Cock"?
My manuscript had a title when I started working on it. After the manuscript was done I felt the need for a different title. I lived with this title for some time but then again, started looking for a new title.
Salis, I believe if a book has a perfect title, half the battle is won. So, here I was stuck in a maze to find an attractive title for my manuscript.
Some months passed and I forgot about my ready manuscript without a title. One full year had gone by.
I was home late night after a long and hectic shoot. Everybody in the house was sleeping when I was having dinner at 3.30 am. Look, this is the routine that we have in Mumbai’s movie industry.
I switched on the TV to hear some sound. A boxing bout was taking place in some global tournament. It was the final phase of the final match. Both the heavyset boxers were fighting for the gold.
Punches were flying and it looked quite difficult to predict the winner. The commentator was doing his job quite animatedly.
Suddenly the boxer punched above the right ear of his opponent and he fell down. The countdown begun.
I still remember the words of the crazy commentator – “Oh dear, oh dear, look what we got ‘ere! Henry ‘as coldcocked ‘im”. Henry earned the gold medal and my manuscript, its title – COLD COCK!
Q. Who would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Any person who loves reading!
Q. What does a day in the life of Mukul Ranjan look like when you’re writing?
I am an early riser. I usually wake up by 4.30 – 5 am in the morning. After finishing my 45 minutes brisk walk, praanayam and shower I sit down to write. If shooting or post studio is far I write for an hour or two.
Commuting to work and back to home involves reading a book. Again, I write in the night for an hour or two before hitting to bed. Holidays mean 10 – 12 hours of writing.
I believe, I’m quite disciplined with my reading and writing routine.
Q. Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
Yes, naming the characters! This is how it begins for me. Salis, you won’t believe this but if ever, I begin working on the sequel of Cold Cock the lead characters names are already locked.
Q. If you could time travel anywhere in the world at any time in history and stay there for about a week, when/where would you go? Or would you prefer to visit the future?
Future, only future. I admire the concept of a utopian world. Forget about staying there only for one week, I would prefer to spend my life there.
A world where there is no violence, no stress, no hunger, no thirst and no conflict. I would be interested in watching how people create new things, ideas and new inventions in such a lovely atmosphere.
Q. What are your earliest memories of reading and writing?
My late father was a famous academic and I grew up in a house full of books. The first book that I remember to have read was the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.
It left a deep impact on me and, I still get goosebumps when I recall incidents from this book.
I suffered from bad health in my early childhood so I could not participate in everyday physical games with my friends. I was provided magazines like Chandamama, Parag, Bal Bharti, Nandan, Bahadur comics and Amar Chitra Katha.
And I would spend my free time in several libraries in my hometown. I loved reading, Ved, Puraan, Bhagvad Gita, Ramayan, Mahabharat again and again.
Another favourite was revolutionary literature related to Khudiram Bose, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla Khan, Master Da, Bagha Jatin, Joan of Arc, Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmibai and others.
I also read lot of translated works from Chinese, Russian, Polish, Tajik, Japanese and other global literature. I loved reading stories, poetry, novels, plays, travelogues, biographies, autobiographies; there was no difference, I simply read, read and read some more whatever I could lay my hands on.
During college years my articles and stories started getting published in Hindi newspapers and English magazines across India.
I also used to write articles and stories and record them in my own voice at the local radio station for broadcast!
Q. Who are your favourite authors, and why?
That’s a tough call, Salis. There is a long list of my favourites but I would name a few here. Ayn Rand for emphasis on individualism, integrity and idealism. Premchand for stunning portrayal of families, societies and human frailties.
Kunal Basu for effortless transition of ages through history and geography. Hari Mohan Jha for his effective bonsai of human characteristics, sharp wit and absolutely free flowing humour.
Robert Ludlum for his amazing plotting, heightened drama and insider’s perspective of cold war politics.
Q. Future of SALISMANIA.com through your eyes?
Every two parts need a connection. Every two individuals need one common meeting ground. Two sides of a river need a bridge for people to crossover.
SALISMANIA.COM is doing a fantastic job in connecting authors to individual readers and other sections of global readers. We need more such courageous entitities and visionaries to bridge this wide gulf.
Wishing the very best and a blockbuster future for you and everybody at SALISMANIA.COM.
Salis, thank you so much for this wonderful conversation. Hope we have many more in the future. Thank you once again.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ashwin, a software engineer, desperate for a job lands up in Birha. Mynah, a film school graduate with dreams in her big eyes joins Birha.
Desperate, directionless, and vengeful forces join hands to steer Birha. Opposites do attract but Mynah drives Ashwin crazy with her wild moves.
Sparks known as fireworks fly in all directions, putting everything at risk. An inharmonious and searing relationship, called love grows quickly in Birha.
Birha, the sinking TV channel needs resuscitation but is it allowed that? Is Mynah and Ashwin’s relationship doomed in the peat bog called Birhan?
Will the shy lovers survive or do they need to sacrifice everything in this morass? Unpredictable, Realistic, Sizzling, Stark, Witty + A Lot More = COLD COCK.