When the Chief Fell in Love, authored by Tuhin A. Sinha, is a love story set in Kashmir. This is not, however, all there is to the two people in question. Where there is love, there is conflict. And how the two lovers – one on the right side of the law and the other unwillingly on the other side of patriotism – journey through this chaos is what forms the story. Here’s a bit from the blurb.
Vihaan Shastri, India’s young and dynamic Defence Minister, comes under attack when 20 soldiers are killed during a terrorist strike at an army camp in Kashmir. With the whole country seething with rage and thirsting for revenge, and the government depending on him to resolve the crisis, Vihaan finds himself battling a strange distraction: Zaira Bhat, the only woman he has truly loved, is back in his life, after 12 long years…
…Can he win back the love of his life and also save an on-the edge Kashmir? Come, be a part of Vihaan and Zaira’s crazy journey as they make their way through learning what it is to love someone eternally . . .
We had some interesting questions for the author, and Tuhin A. Sinha came up with some thought-provoking answers for us.
Kashmir – The Backdrop, The Spine of the Story:
When asked why he chose Kashmir, Tuhin says, “I find Kashmir very fascinating and intriguing. It is disturbing that a land as beautiful and spiritually rich at one point of time, should today witness such mindless bloodshed.”
Tuhin A. Sinha on The Generation Gap in Paradise:
Kashmir is mostly a sensitive issue these days. But Tuhin A. Sinha doesn’t mince words when he talks about how different the younger generation is from the older ones. The disconnect, he says, is explained in the book.
“I feel sad for the younger generation of the Valley, especially those born in the last three decades. They have grown up witnessing radicalization and violence of the worst kind. As such they tend to be bitter and have trust issues. A significant chunk of this young population is battling depression. The older generation is calmer and more objective.
Kashmir needs to own India. They need to get rid of the dubious Hurriyat leaders and engage directly with the Indian government. They need to belong to India implicitly and whole-heartedly.”
Where Genres Meet – And Why:
When the Chief Fell in Love is an aesthetic mix of two genres: romance, and political thriller. The decision to do this is completely intentional as Tuhin A. Sinha likes to experiment with his stories as he has done for his previous novels.
“I have always enjoyed experimenting with my books. Of Love And Politics (2010) was perhaps the first book where the real names of Indian political parties were taken in a fiction narrative and an attempt was made to fix accountability for some of the key political developments in the country post-Independence.
The Edge Of Desire (2012) was perhaps the first Indian book to be written by a male author in the voice of the female protagonist. Like my latest book, The Edge of Desire covered a wide trajectory – from the unfortunate rape of the protagonist to her going on to become one of the top leaders of the country. To pull it off in a female voice was tough.
Daddy (2015) was probably India’s first parenting DIY (do it yourself) read from a Dad’s perspective.
After all this, I felt a fresh perspective on the Kashmir issue was much due. The book is my attempt in that direction. The romance and thriller elements are there to make the narrative more palatable for younger readers who have less patience for bland informative feed.”
When the Chief Fell in Love – The USP:
An author needs to know the novelty their book will provide to its readers. Without this, the marketability of the book reduces greatly. Tuhin A. Sinha, however, has his list of pluses ready at hand.
“First of all, the sheer trajectory in terms of years that the story covers – geography, political landscape, and emotions. The story starts in 1990 in Delhi, travels to Mexico, Mumbai, Kashmir, Delhi again and then finally to Kashmir. All this while the relationship between the protagonists goes through its twists and turns and the political landscape at its own vagaries.
Secondly, the blend between romance and politics has been seamless in this book, compared to my other political thrillers.
Thirdly, the book hints towards a fresh solution to the Kashmir issue, even if it’s unconventional and controversial.
And finally, the original poems used in the book which make the female protagonist, Zaira Bhat’s character more alluring and give a poetic feel to the whole narrative.”
Plot or Characters – What’s More Important?
“All of these are equally important and indispensable.”
Favourite Books and Indian Political Thrillers:
The Bhagwad Gita, Ramayan and Mahabharat are my favourite books.
Some of contemporary stuff I have enjoyed include Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Manju Kapur’s, The Immigrants and Ashwin Sanghi’s Chanakya’s Chant.
Advice for Aspiring Authors:
“Just be at it. Many a times, success comes just when you are on the verge of giving up.”
Author(s): Tuhin A. Sinha
Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing
Release: February 2018
Genre: Fiction/Political Thriller
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