An advertising professional, film-director, screen writer and an author, Piyush dons many a hat. Having started his career with Advertising with the Grey Global Group he soon formed his own ad film production company and handled prestigious accounts such as Indian Oil, Hindustan Lever, and UB Group among many others. Piyush has always been inclined towards the creative aspect of the ad making which lead him to direction beginning with ad films and then his first feature film ’Chalo America’ under NFDC which has been screened in Film Festivals in India as well as abroad. His Novella ‘Girls of Mumbaistan’ is the talk of the town currently. Actor, Director and Producer, Arindam Sil was in conversation with Piyush. Ehsaas woman, Esha Dutta had the onus of opening the session.
New Age English:
Piyush chooses to write in a dialect that can cut across the age and societal barriers and reach out to a bigger reader domain. He uses a lot of local tones and dialects akin to his character to give it a realistic essence and make it more relatable. Marathi and the ‘Mumbaiya’ dialect blends into his English narrative enhance mass appeal. New age terminologies add to the appeal of his narration.
Being born and brought in Mumbai the author mentions that he has seen city based crime from a close proximity and as he was also involved in Students’ Union in college he has witnessed the good, bad ugly of politics as well as crime. Writing his books for Piyush is like an ‘ode to the city,’ where he has grown up and experienced life. Piyush also pays a lot of attention to the detailed imagery of his plots as it helps to create a more true to life picture. One could say about his books that the city itself is one of the Characters in his book. He blends reality into fiction smoothly to reflect an essence of thrilling reality. He said that ‘visuals come to him first’ and then he works on the content. Being a creative person and writer he feels that both these skills are integrated and compliments each other when he conceives his book.
Breaking a Story:
Speaking on his novella ‘Girls of Mumbaistan’ Piyush divulged that he was never apprehensive about choosing women to be his central protagonist. The author was very clear about his portrayal of his protagonists through whom he has tried to unveil the predicament of women on various fronts. Transgenders are an integral part of the Mumbai ethos and in the 3 rd part of his Novella, he highlights their plight inspired by the 2 transgenders in India who have been absorbed in Government posts in Rajasthan and Chennai respectively. His stories keep you on the edge as his characters take you on a thrilling journey through crime and action. There is never a dull moment. Piyush keeps in touch with people from various walks of life and you can decipher their influence in the lingo or imagery created in his books. The author also shares his experience of having a close brush with real crime scene when he was in college. The author also speaks about his protagonist, Virkar who represent the typical Kohli community ethos and how he was a victim of reverse bias and found it difficult to reconcile with the city he had returned to after 15 years.
Piyush mentions his love for ‘Calcutta’ as he still chooses to call it so. He was extremely humbled by former West Bengal Chief Minister’s simplicity when he met him at the KIFF and was greatly elated by the fact that he had come to watch his film at his behest. Piyush is spending a lot of time reading during this lockdown phase and shared some of his preferences with the attendees. He expressed his desire to write pure romance someday but satire remains his passion. He is presently working on a film as well. Piyush signed off speaking about the significant surge of viewership on the OTT platforms and defines it as the ‘New Normal.’
Esha Dutta rounded up the session with her thank you note.
Singh’s book ‘Batla House’ is centred around the controversial and famous encounter that took place in Delhi at the Batla House. The book starts from the first bomb blast that took place on 13 th September 2008. The bomb blasts were simultaneous in many places at the same time and were done by a terrorist group called the Indian Mujahidin. The terrorist group had done serial bomb blasts in over 14 places in Delhi and the police had been trying to find them since a long time. When they got the news of the group hiding in Batla House they went there to investigate where the shootings happened. Media spun the news saying that it was a fake encounter and that it was just done under the pressure. The media and the people put out rumours saying that the police officer that died was killed by his own team, however, when the forensic report came it was clear that the police officer had been killed by the terrorist group, the dead terrorists also had residue of gun powder on them that indicated that the shots had been fired by them. The police officer that had died was one of the most decorated police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma, it was his discovery that had led the team to Batla House. He had in his lifetime neutralised around 35 terrorists, received numerous medals and was also awarded the Ashok Chakra for bravery in the battle field after he had died. He was knowledge of both the technical and the human skills.
He said that the media is like the 4 th pillar of democracy and has the responsibility to make sure that they do not put out fake news out in the public domain. When the police investigate and presents the facts, it does in front of the court where the defence also has the right to fight and present the facts to the court, a judiciary body that is independent of the other pillars of the democracy. Whereas the media just presents the facts that they think is correct and frames a side, the other side has no right to defend themselves. The party that is declared guilty by the media become guilty in the eyes of the people and has no chance of redemption. The media must understand that they have a greater responsibility to refrain from showing the news that can leak sensitive information about the case and hamper the investigation. Media is like the 4 th pillar of democracy and has the power to sway the people in whatever side that they want to. The investigation teams must also be trained in what information should be shared and what should not be, as that can make or break the case.
Singh then said that sometimes the clues can be found easily whereas many times when dealing with terrorists finding clues that connect and make sense are difficult. The investigation agencies have to look for clues both on the scene and off the scene. The area has to be extensively swept for any evidence and the dump data, like the phones connected to the nearby tower, same phone present at different locations of crime. The data has to be looked through carefully as the evidence is hidden in them to crack the case.
When talked about the investigation that followed the encounter Singh mentioned that the team that has done the encounter is never a part of the investigation team, however since there is not one agency for looking into the encounters, the media and the people still claim that the teams are the same and hide facts that do not show the police in good light.
The two roles that Singh played were both of important as one dealt with the physical and internal security of the country whereas the other with the economy and social security of the country. Both these roles are fulfilling in their own way and give an immense sense of satisfaction knowing that one is doing something that will help the country be a better place in all aspects.
The conversation ended with Esha thanking Singh and Bhatia on an insightful conversation on the encounter that happened in Batla House and how the media had twisted the facts that were presented.