Filmmaker and author of the bestselling Scandal Point, Fahad Samar is back with the second book in his Mumbai trilogy Flash Point. He tells Supriya Sharma about his new thriller. Excerpts:
Could you tell us briefly about Flash Point?
Flash Point, the second instalment in my Mumbai trilogy, is a racy thriller. Over the years, I have observed the paparazzi shooting celebrities on the red carpet and I’ve often wondered what it must be like for them, interacting with the rich and famous with nothing but a thin velvet rope separating them from their glamorous subjects. I also wanted to portray Mumbai through the lens of ambitious young migrants. Zeeshan Haq is an outsider, a Kashmiri Muslim, who arrives in the city with nothing but his dreams. Working as a paparazzo, Zeeshan is dazzled by the glamour of Mumbai and smitten by a beautiful Indo-Canadian model and aspiring actress Hazel Haroon. He yearns to vault over the red velvet rope and become a successful photographer. Instead, he becomes trapped in a web of crime and deceit that threatens his career and very existence.
What sort of research did you undertake for this book?
I have been observing the mutating city of Mumbai and its assorted denizens over the past 30 years. Like most thinking people, I am appalled by the staggering hypocrisy, bigotry and corruption that surrounds us. In Flash Point, my protagonists are underdogs trying to make their way up in life. Zeeshan is inspired from several paparazzi photographers I’ve met. Often celebrities befriend photographers to ensure their pictures are featured in the glossy pages. Some send them Diwali gifts or palm them cash at glitzy events. But the paparazzi are aware that they are using them. I remember a press photographer telling me how one socialite, who otherwise makes it a point to air-kiss him whenever he takes her picture, simply refuses to recognise him when he doesn’t have a camera slung around his neck.
Your first book Scandal Point satirised Bollywood celebs. Did you ever get brickbats from those who felt they inspired the characters?
Funnily enough, several celebrities who have been an inspiration for my characters have come up to me and gleefully asked who the book is based on. I reply with a straight face, “It’s about you!” We have all become vampires that feed on the depravity of others.
Then there are those ditsy socialites that trill that they have read about Scandal Point but haven’t actually managed to read the book. The most unexpected reaction was from an elderly lady at a literary festival who confided that she had experienced her first orgasm in 15 years after reading the book. I replied, with a broad smile, that I was delighted to have been of service.
Could you give us a peek into the third book of the trilogy?
I have started work on the final instalment of my trilogy, tentatively titled Break Point. It wouldn’t be prudent to reveal too much at this juncture but suffice to say that the paradoxical city of Mumbai remains the chief protagonist and antagonist of my work.
What great books did you discover in 2014?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Who have been your literary influences?
I have many literary influences ranging from Salman Rushdie, Truman Capote and Edith Wharton to PG Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe. I’m sure that all these eminent writers have somehow shaped my writing but I like to believe that I write in a voice that is unique and original.
What is your typical day like when you are working on a book?
Like most writers, I am a nocturnal beast and prefer to do my writing in the still of the night. This is when distractions are at a minimum and the Muse is upon me. Having said that, I maintain a regimen of writing one thousand words a day, and so I often work in the morning or afternoon, if I know that I will have a late evening involving libations.