Atul Sharma is a writer who attempts to initiate a dialogue with his readers through the medium of his stories. His book ‘Woh Kaun thi’ is a murder mystery thriller that uncovers the feelings of disharmony, mistrust, and suspicion in relationships whilst attempting to reach the accused.
In an interview with Thought Habitat, Atul is talking about his motivation behind writing paranormal fiction in Hindi and reveals his future moves. Also, he speaks about the role of Pratilipi in his writing journey.
What motivated you to write paranormal fiction?
Since childhood, I was fond of watching television serials based on paranormal activity and horror movies. I possess a lot of books and literature on these subjects. I was also deeply interested in murder mysteries and stories based on espionage. I would keenly watch television serials like ‘Tehkikaat’, ‘Kanoon’, ‘Adalat’, ‘Crime Patrol’, ‘Murder Unsolved’, ‘The Zee Horror Show’, ‘Aahat’ and ‘Bhoot Aaya’. I have also written many stories based on these subjects which have been published from time to time in renowned publications like ‘Suman Saurabh’, ‘Nanhe Samrat’, ‘Dainik Bhaskar’, ‘Dainik Jagaran’, ‘Krishak Jagat’ and ‘Sandhya Prakash’.
At an early age when one is expected to study, I had to keep my passion aside owing to a lot of responsibilities. But the writer within me came to life with the onset of the cell phone age and after social media emerged as a strong medium supporting individual expression. As they say, the art and the artist inside you, never dies. They just need the right time and a strong medium to prove themselves. It was ‘Pratilipi’ which provided this platform to me. If someone were to call me the ‘founder-writer at ‘Pratilipi’’, it would not be incorrect, as I have been associated with ‘Pratilipi’ since its inception.
In your opinion, how welcoming are people when it comes to paranormal fiction, and that too in regional languages?
Whenever I produce such works, I get to read/hear mixed reactions from readers. Some readers have encouraging responses, while some others feel they are ludicrous. Nevertheless, ghost stories have always been a subject of great curiosity. Not only does the genre command a huge number of readers in comparison to others, but offers a variety of subjects too. This is my personal experience.
In the works purely based on fiction, I clearly mention that they are based on imagination. And as you know, the world of imagination is limitless, for example, Devki Nandan Khatriji’s novel ‘Chandrakanta’. I however consider myself lucky that positive reviews for my works far outnumber the negative ones. There are also a lot of learnings to have from the negative reviews. This is because, quite inadvertently, readers share such brilliant ideas in their reactions, which could well take the shape of a plot for the next work.
For example, I received a lot of feedback on some of my detective stories regarding the police investigation aspect. One of my friends had mockingly commented that I had done well not to introduce ghosts and spirits in the story, as the police would have been unable to catch hold of them. This comment inspired me to write on a completely new topic. I came up with a novel that had a murder mystery spiced up with some paranormal activity, which has been presented before you today with the name ‘Woh Kaun Thi?’ If you accomplish some tasks, you should expect different people to react in different ways.
It is entirely dependent on you in what spirit you take the reactions. But I am human too and some negative comments do disturb me. Initially, I used to react angrily to them. Once or twice, at ‘Pratilipi’ too I have had to face such situations, regarding which I had also complained to ‘Team Pratilipi’. They acted immediately on my complaint and removed the said comment.
Would you like to share your experience of getting published through ‘Pratilipi’?
My experience with ‘Pratilipi’ could be analogized with that of a dead-thirsty person, who is stuck in a desert and suddenly finds a pot full of water. In the olden days, resources were limited, and the opportunity to express one’s feelings and publicizing them was the preserve of the rich only. But since social media (specifically, famous platforms like ‘Pratilipi’ have strongly emerged as the backbone of many hidden talents, it has provided a golden opportunity for such talents to spread out in far off cities, towns and villages and helped them to convey their feelings to the masses. And believe me; we have discovered such brilliant talents, for whom any amount of praise would seem inadequate.
I have myself read many writers on ‘Pratilipi’, whose works display both quality and class. However, I consider myself a pretty ordinary writer, who has received an identity because of such a great platform. My long-standing dream of publishing a book has now been realized. My effort has been to invest more and more time in research and writing, but it is not always possible due to many other commitments. But whenever I get the time, I always read up other authors on ‘Pratilipi’ and continue my writing work.
I express my heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Smt Veena Vatsal and her entire ‘Pratilipi’ team. I wish ‘Pratilipi’ keeps achieving greater heights of success. The feeling of being someone special that this platform has afforded to ordinary writers like me and inspired us to explore newer horizons, cannot be expressed in mere words. Many plaudits to this amazing platform.
Is your next work based on paranormal fiction or some other genre? What more can we expect from you?
I have always endeavoured that every word of each of my works should in itself – exude a class of its own, be objective, entertaining and conform to qualitative standards. My favourite area (plot) has been to write unique stories that have an amalgamation of imagination and reality. On the other hand, I also crave to write about burning issues and true events.
I can write on any topic. My works span many faculties of the art of writing, like poetry, social-family write-ups, comedy and satire, children’s literature, espionage stories full of suspense and thrill, patriotic stories, murder mysteries, ghost stories, love stories etc.
My upcoming stories and novels will be based on various topics, but primarily on patriotism, supernatural occurrences, true stories and spy stories. My biggest dream is that of films and web series being produced based on my stories. But for that, the selection of topics in my stories and their quality has to be more effective. Nothing is difficult, and what is required is a firm will and a proper medium. Life has its share of problems and struggles. It has always been a challenge to convert writing activity into one’s energy and giving it the time, it deserves. But efforts will be relentless.
I once again applaud Smt Veena Vatsalji and her entire ‘Pratilipi’ team from the bottom of my heart. I sincerely hope that in the coming years people would come across this platform in a more diversified avatar.