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Sanchit Gupta on troubled childhood in Kashmir

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Who is Sanchit Gupta ?

Born and brought up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Sanchit began his career as a part-time copywriter with an advertising agency in Mumbai. Co-founding his own theatre group to film screenwriting, to brand communication professional to being a published author. Sanchit Gupta wears many hats and how ! His latest book is set in Kashmir and deals with clash of religion & identity and how particularly it affects childhood and the innocence for those who  are brought up in Kashmir amidst everything that seldom goes normal there. This book is being compared to classic like The Kite Runner By Khalid Hosseini – set in Afganisthan and Half of a yellow sun – set in Nigeria. In its core essence these books have a very similar theme.

On Writing and rejections

Over the past seven years, I have written three books. My first book was rejected by every mainstream traditional literary agent and publisher. After that I started writing my second book- ‘The Tree with a Thousand Apples’, which is now my debut novel published by Niyogi Books and recently released by Padma Shri Pritish Nandy. I have not pitched or shared the third book with anyone yet. All these years I had been writing along with my day job of brand management. Only a few months ago, encouraged by my wife, I eventually quit my day job and am now a full time author and screenwriter.

On awards , recognition and film screenwriting

My short stories have been published in several esteemed publications and literary journals, and have won acclaim in leading literary festivals and online forums like – Tata LitLive My Story Contest, Muse India, Contemporary Literary Review India, Indian Ruminations, Qpeka and the Orange Flame Literary Review.

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As a screenwriter, my script Kahwa (based on the book The Tree with a Thousand Apples) has been long-listed at Sundance International Screenwriters’ Lab- 2017. Another of my film scripts (fiction) has been long-listed at Mumbai Mantra Cinerise screenwriters’ lab- 2016. I am the co-writer of Emraan Hashmi’s first home production ‘Captain Nawab’ and the next Rajkumar Rao- Shruti Hassan starrer ‘Behen Hogi Teri’. Both the films will be released next year.  I am also the fiction editor at Contemporary Literary Review India, have worked with All India Radio as a talk show host and a regular feature in poetry recitals @ Prithvi Café, Mumbai.

The Tree with a Thousand Apples

This book is a socio-political thriller, a story of three childhood friends from Kashmir. In one of the biggest militant insurgencies in India, Kashmir turned into a battlefield between the militants and the Indian Army in the year 1990. Many Hindu Kashmiri Pandits were forced into exile, while young directionless Kashmiri Muslim men were brain-washed by the militants and took to violence. Duty-bound Indian army officers faced tremendous odds, while the lives of Kashmiri residents deteriorated over the years.

 

 

[ttshare]When ideologies clash in the name of religion or identity, it is the common residents who suffer the most and it is the children and their childhood that we truly destroy. This is what I try to bring out through my book.[/ttshare]

The idea for ‘The Tree with a Thousand Apples’ came to me after my visit to Kashmir in the year 2009. I lived there for around three months and it was during one of those days that I saw a 12-year old Kashmiri Muslim boy sit beside a 20-year old Indian Army soldier, sipping cups of Kahwa (Kashmiri tea) together. That sight left an indelible imprint on my mind. A very close friend of mine, and incidentally a Kashmiri Pandit, told me many stories about his time in Kashmir. I could see how different viewpoints were each right in their own way and yet so far apart from each other. These sights and conversations have inspired my novel. It is the only book that talks about all aspects related to the conflict without passing a judgment. Hailed as India’s Kiterunner, it has a riveting, layered narrative that tells the story from the point of view of three innocent children who grow up in their shattered paradise and are forced to chose sides against their will.

Amidst the current turmoil in Kashmir, I think the world needs the power of fiction to diffuse prejudices and promote compassion for the people affected by the conflict. We live in a world full of increasing apathy where lack of respect for human life and dignity has become a new normal. I have written this novel with empathy and I think that is what we need to spread in an increasing polarized world.

[ttshare]Ms. Saba Naqvi, senior journalist and columnist, wrote about the book – ‘This book has it heart in the right place and is written with genuine emotion about the beautiful yet tormented valley of Kashmir.’[/ttshare]

[ttshare]Mr. Pritish Nandy said- ‘The book and it’s characters moved me deeply, especially the author’s unbiased on a complicated issue like Kashmir.’[/ttshare]

Writing Influences and some words of advice:

Some of my favorite authors include Ernest Hemingway, Khushwant Singh, Premchand, Neil Gaiman, Cormac Mccarthy, J.M. Coetzee, Khalid Hussaini, Haruki Marakami, R.K Narayan, Vikram Seth, Charles Dickens and George Orwell. Many of there works have influenced and inspired by own writing.

[ttshare]My advice to aspiring writers is to not look for motivation as it is not enough for a writer. It needs to be desperation, for the story can burst out of you and bleed on paper.[/ttshare]

Be true, to be honest to your view of the world and have the courage to stand for it. Do it because the fire inside you will not let you live unless they do. That is the only good fight there is.

Author Connect :

Website : Twitter 

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