Qatl Kii AadatSocial networking sites, for many, are just virtual space where you come in ‘contact’ with people of your liking for a while and then disperse as easily as you have ‘met’ because unlike physical intimacy, your chance interaction and mingling do not bear down upon you with the constrictions of physical proximity or commitment I was lucky to have ‘met’ many like-minded friends on various sites with the difference that the friendship has more than once transformed therefrom virtual to real.  By real, I mean a more tangible connect by way of tele talk or actual face to face acquaintance or exchange of notes.

When I say like-minded, I refer to the common thread, per se, or more elaborately, the symbiosis of benefit, not in the least in material terms,  but more in the lines of an unpremeditated mutual growth which for all ideal purpose should be the keystone of any honest and evolving relationship.  I was lucky to have known Mr. Jitendra Mathur for the past so many years as a thinker who has always been sincere and ever ready with his valuable comments and appreciation whenever I have tried to express my views, in my limited capacity, on any sundry topic, on my blog space or on sites of  mutual indulgence. To get a friend by your side, who understands your mind, is a blessing of divine proportion. Oft-perceived lightly, the sense of understanding is an unflinching assurance that our intersecting thoughts promise not to malign.

JITENDRA MATHUR

Shri Jitendra Mathur

Mr. Mathur has always charmed me with the sincerity of his intention. Even his critique has been perceptive, directional and more than often presentation of an alternate viewpoint which my microscopic takes have bypassed. A movie buff, an avid reader, an honest reviewer, a talented playwright and a compulsive writer (by his own confession), words fall short when it comes to sketching a multi-faceted persona like Mr. Mathur. However, I think it is our addiction to that factor of unknowability that has actually spurred on our association over the past so many years. In short, we are both huge fans of murder mystery and detection. I am still to make out what kindles a man’s perceptivity – is it profession or is it the bent of mind which eggs him towards his chosen vocation? Being a Chartered Accountant, analytical acumen, clarity of thought and the ability of distinguishing the necessary from the clutter, come naturally to Mr. Mathur. But it is reading his reviews, be it of Christie’s or Surendra Mohan Pathak’s, I became increasingly aware of a mind which is endowed with the power and precision of logically deducing the truth, from a haystack of deluding facts, in an almost unforgiving manner.

I would not like to take the credit of what followed suit because the seeds of the future is always sown somewhere in the past and watered by the present. Even though it’s a doer’s prerogative, It was the latter that I unashamedly boast of triggering and I am happy that the result is so awe-inspiring that even the one who coaxed him not to stop, is stunned by the outcome. Writing a full-fledged novel, taking out time off a demanding career, is no mean task. And it is also an occasion to celebrate with a virtual cup of coffee and as stimulating a conversation as the caffeine in the coffee beans could provoke. So here it goes…

Me : Writing is cathartic or therapeutic for you?

JM : Both – to vent out my frustration and stuffiness and to anoint the wounded heart.

Me: From playwright to novelist, would you call it a quantum leap, a gradual process or an inevitability?

JM : I became a playwright because of the demand of the situation in 2003 when a play was required by my friends for participating in the cultural event of the then organization I served. My second play was also written on someone’s request. But after writing many plays, when one fine morning, a thought came to my mind that I should try to write a full-fledged novel also, then it proved to be an altogether different business because of the genre. After successful materialization of my dream, I can call it a quantum leap. Had I written a romantic or a social novel, I would have termed it a gradual process.

Me: You have often remarked that my short stories lean towards abstraction not easily followed by many. But when we talk of hardboiled murder mysteries we are actually veering towards that dark realm of performance which is as abstract as confounding. Your comment.

JM : Well, that’s a ticklish question. To some extent, I agree that mysteries also contain an air of abstractness. The thought of murder is a result of mental abstractness. However, this abstractness is subjective. All the same, murder mysteries can’t be completely abstract because the acts preceding and succeeding a murder (especially unraveling the mystery) are nothing but tangible incidents.

Me : Qatl Kii Aadat, your maiden novel, is of a steamy mainstream genre. Yet, a Christie or a Sir Connan Doyle fall within the purview of classics. What according to you are the requisite ingredients for thrillers and suspense dramas to acquire literary stature?

JM : The requisite ingredient for a suspense drama or a thriller to acquire literary stature lies in the psychological aspect or element finely and subtly embedded therein. Murder is only an act but the background and foreground of the act decide its qualitative quantum – the crime, the process of detection, the quality of investigation and the finale. This applies to mystery movies too, a very few of which, achieve the cult status. In a nutshell, a mystery or thriller can be considered a classic when it is much more than a suspense or a thrill story.

Me: You are a huge Christie fan (like me). Has Christie in any way been an influencing factor in shaping your novel?

JM: Of course! Though the plot emerged out of my own life experiences, the Christie influence on me has something to do with its shaping and presentation.

Me : Do you wish to see your protagonist SI Sanjay Sinha on the same pedestal as Christie’s Poirot or SMP’s Sunil in coming days?

JM :Yes, why not?

Me : Coming to Hindi pulp fiction, your reviews have inspired many, including me, to have a taste of these. However, the very coinage “pulp” is somewhat derogatory given their huge salability and readership. Do you agree and why the nickname “pulp”?

JM : The nickname ‘pulp’ has been derived from the quality of paper used for publication of such novels. And it’s because of the poor quality of paper, cover page and other production related aspects that led decorous people to look upon them derogatorily. And once they got tagged as ‘cheap’, the tag continued to stick to them for ages.

Me :Given the present scenario, do you think writers are now more motivated by commercial interests and less by literary thirst?

JM: Yes. Though I have come across authors and poets who create purely out of passion and literary thirst, it’s to be admitted that the commercial interests has taken over the scenario. All the same, it’s nothing new. We have to admit that the basic needs of life are the same for creative people as they are for the others.

Me: Your experience and views on self-publishing?

JM : Self-publishing is the order of the day. Due to diminutive readership and in turn printed publishing, this is the only viable option left to new authors and poets. It’s a known fact that a couple of today’s celebrity Indian authors had begun through self-publication only.

Me: Is crime an art or a craft?  Your take in view of contemporary times…

JM : Crime can never be an art, Geeta Ji because art always exists for its own sake whereas crime cannot be contemplated for its own sake. There has to be a motive for it. However it can be called a craft. Mind it, if the criminal is willing to accept the legal punishment for his crime prior to contemplating it, then the crime is neither an art nor a craft. These terms are to be used only when the criminal has to make a plan to escape the law of the land after committing the crime. The art lies there and not in just carrying out the crime and surrendering to the law thereafter.

Me: Logical detection and plausible finale are something which we find lacking in many contemporary novels. Do you think writing a mystery novel requires a different bent of mind? How difficult or easy is it?

JM : Yes, writing a mystery novel requires a different bent of mind. It’s definitely difficult than writing a social drama or romantic stuff. The author has to know well in advance what his detective hero is going to know and then reveal in the climax. All the loose ends are to be tied up in the end, all the questions are to be answered and all the activities of different characters are to be logically explained. Else, the finale may leave the reader dissatisfied. Hence it’s a unique style which the author has to develop and refine by practice.

Me: Political intervention in policing is a necessary evil yet an acknowledged fact. Your reply as SI Sanjay Sinha….

JM :Political intervention in policing is an evil for sure but how can we call it a necessary evil ? There is no necessity for it except for the vested interests. Hence it should be stopped and the dutiful and committed officers should be allowed to function without undue pressures.

Me: Who would you like to see as Sanjay in a cinematic adaptation of your novel?

JM : That’s a hypothetical question. If it really becomes possible some day, then yes, Arjun Kapoor.

Me: A little about Qatl Kii Aadat…..

JM : It’s a murder mystery set in an industrial town which is small in area with   smaller villages connected to it. The nearest city is miles away. The local police chowki suffers from want of manpower and resources. Still a very young and inexperienced but honest and dedicated chowki in-charge investigates the case which is entangled like a spider’s web and ultimately succeeds in reaching the culprit.

Me: If you had to review your own novel ….

JM: As the author I am subjective. For a more objective analysis, an independent reviewer should be entrusted for it.

Me : About your next venture…..

JM : Not planned yet.

Me: All the best to you for your novel and next venture, whenever that is due, Mr. Mathur!

With that we took the last sip of our coffee. Needless to say, I am as eagerly looking forward to reading Mathur Sahab’s creation as my other friends are.

Qatl Kii Aadat is now available on www.pothi,com in e-book form. Be the first to review it.

But before signing off, I promise I shall come back again in another Coffee Session with Mr. Mathur after devouring the book.

Till then …..Happy deducing….

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About gc1963

A working woman with interests in reading, writing, music, poetry and fine arts.

12 responses »

  1. Vimala Ramu says:

    Well, this is a surprise Geeta. I had known Mr Mathur only as your friend and a good critic. I did not know his capabilities as a crime novelist too. Your interview ‘over the virtual cup of coffee’ is extensive and has provided a good forum for Mr Mathur to express his views. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jmathur says:

    गीता जी,

    समझ में नहीं आता कि मैं आपका शुक्रिया कैसे अदा करूं ।

    जितेन्द्र माथुर

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Deeptangshu Das says:

    Very insightful dialogue.. And thank you so much for introducing us to the literary world of Jitendra Mathur ji.

    Among all the questions that you had posed, there is one that interested me the most–“Is crime an art or a craft? Your take in view of contemporary times…”

    I would like to believe that crime is not an art because art by itself is creative, harmonious and constructive. Where as the very essence of crime is violent, destructive and chaotic. Though It can be seen as a craft as the idea of a craft involves a certain intentionality, a well-designed structure created to serve a specific purpose.

    But my predicament here is that if I don’t label crime as an art because it is destructive, am I not then imposing a principle of morality on art? Across the ages we have had avant-garde, radical artists claiming that “art is never chaste”, “art is amoral”, “all art is dangerous”, “the aim of art is to shock”, so in that case crime and art does share a certain affinity. Both crime and art can disturb the existing norms of society. Perhaps crime has its own aesthetics but it nevertheless violates an ethical principle.

    Similarly as we separate art from craft, there is an element of “craftiness” that art can embody. Your question reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s famous crime/gothic novel “The Picture of dorain gray” that maps the tension between art, crime and morality. Though I must admit here that I’m not very familiar with the crime fiction genre as such.

    Thank you for this thought provoking conversation.

    Regards

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gc1963 says:

    Dear Deeptangshu,

    How I love your comments! It always makes me think

    Generally, readers of softer sensibility avoid crime fictions because of preconceived notion. However, crime by itself is insightful – it gives a glimpse of minds which provoke actions of a different kind. As Mr. Mathur says it’s the psychological element in a crime fiction and its presentation which elevates it to the stature of classics. I would strongly recommend Agatha Christie because it is so delving and deep in its perspective. Of course! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ….but I am more conversant with his cinematic adaptation than the literary form. However, I presume you would like him more because of the language factor.

    Coming to the point whether crime is an art or craft….this perspective is again Christie’s boon…it is in one of her novels that she instigates this argument!

    Any act in which the doer puts his heart and soul is art….it need not necessarily be splendiferous, timeless and dazzling in its outcome and impact. Neither harmonious, constructive nor developmental…by this definition an attempt is not made to decimate its value rather dissociate it from adjectives which impute greater nuances to it thereby narrowing its purview. You may call it ‘de-subjectivity’ of art! Barring acts of temporary insanity or passionate impulse, a crime thoughtfully premeditated over a period of time and skillfully executed in a cold blooded manner, is in itself a magnificent feat of human mind, though destructive and may not withstand the test of time. Remember Othelo…how the villain manipulates him to kill his sweetheart just by fuelling his suspicion….just an example! By the very act of instigation, a mission is accomplished. You may call it cunning, I may look at it as an artful accomplishment. Here again, art implies an act calculatedly conceptualized, implemented and managed without raising doubt and also compromising the innocent so as not to incriminate the actual culprit i.e. not putting yourself under the scanner. Have I shocked you by my theorization?

    As you rightly said, crime as a craft may employ a generous helping of craftiness, though both are diametrically opposite in terms of meaning and perception. Yet, the crafter (criminal) has to be crafty in order to bring forth his craft to its perfect materialization with, if I may say so, a certain amount of finesse and aplomb!!!

    I am sure, by now, you must be gritting your teeth to give me a suitable reply

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Deeptangshu Das says:

    Wonderful! I am glad that this thread become a dialogue on its own.. I will take your points one by one…

    “Generally, readers of softer sensibility avoid crime fictions because of preconceived notion. However, crime by itself is insightful – it gives a glimpse of minds which provoke actions of a different kind. As Mr. Mathur says it’s the psychological element in a crime fiction and its presentation which elevates it to the stature of classics” I agree with you, in fact, I have taught Children’s literature at some point, and so I can completely relate to your argument that what might be labelled as “popular” genres might in fact acquire the status of a classic. What is popular can also be deeply political. And yes, after all art forms emerge from the complex workings of the human mind, the psyche and the unconscious world. Will explore the world of crime fiction on its own terms. I am so glad that you brought the reference of Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello.

    And this brings us to the second point of your thesis. I believe we both concur on the same point that art is also being “artful”, so the criminal is also an artist figure no matter how strongly he disrupts the moral/ ethical fabric of society. And art is “amoral” after all, and it needs to be celebrated in its various facets. And you have eloquently answered my own predicament–

    “Any act in which the doer puts his heart and soul is art….it need not necessarily be splendiferous, timeless and dazzling in its outcome and impact. Neither harmonious, constructive nor developmental”

    Yes, art is defined in its moment of spontaneity. It is born out of a creative energy. Perhaps this is one reason why the Romantic poet William Blake extolled “Satan” as the hero of the age, for what is seemingly “evil” can also embody a tremendous passion. But at the end of the day personally I would still believe that the “ethical” question is an important one even as we might want to look at the aesthetics of crime. Perhaps because I am slightly more inclined towards a constructive vision of art..

    Your comment can be an individual blog post. Thank you for the brilliant arguments. Honestly whenever I read your words I can sense a powerful literary critic within you. You have proved that one can be a reader/writer/observer/critic without being formally trained in the pedagogic discipline of literature. It’s more to do with one’s passion and love for the subject-matter/ genre.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gc1963 says:

      Ethicality is a relative term. You’d agree certain art forms were disparaged at certain times and extolled at others. However, when you talk of creative energy, I am in two minds. There cannot be any creativity in crime….here when we talk of crime as an art, perhaps, it will be prudent to stick to its conceptualization, structurization, planning and execution and not the genesis. Distorted thought cannot be creative! At the very end of the debate, my righteousness takes over, however brazenly diabolical my advocacy might have been….However, the moot point is to see art for the sake of art, as Mr. Mathur says, art exists for itself, and should not be confused with ethics, positivity, constructiveness, harmony, growth, development….

      Liked by 2 people

      • Deeptangshu Das says:

        “There cannot be any creativity in crime….here when we talk of crime as an art, perhaps, it will be prudent to stick to its conceptualization, structurization, planning and execution and not the genesis. Distorted thought cannot be creative”….. Makes me pause and think.

        Yes, true indeed. Art for it’s own sake. And particularly so when we need to battle against the so-called moral brigade and the “censor” board that constantly violates the freedom of self-expression.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. gc1963 says:

    To illustrate my point…. M FH’s portraits….deprecated when contemplated with genesis….otherwise it is just a painting…that is art for art…the same holds true for censor board and vandalism by fundamental groups as protest against books, films, tv shows, so on and so forth

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That’s right…. Also the banning of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus !!!

    Have you seen the film Rang Rasiya- based on the life of the modern artist Raja Ravi Verma.. It raises some very relevant questions.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi

    I couldn’t get your email address anywhere on the blog. So I had to leave a message here :/

    Would you be interested in doing a sponsored post ?
    Let me know, you can contact me through my website or my twitter handle is @indianscrewup

    Liked by 1 person

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