“Calcutta, 1943. India, under the British Raj, is a virtual police state. To maintain ‘order’, the Raj seeks out loyalists and cultivates them to keep an eye out for troublemakers. Prof. Amal Ghosh, a well-known playwright and a darling of the British Raj, is being assessed as a potential collaborator and gets entangled in a labyrinth of lies and deception. What misfortune would gravitate him towards anti-British activities inspired by Netaji Subhas and turn him into a suspect? How would Ghosh emerge unscathed to become a government minister post independence? And what damning discovery would he make about his past life? The answers to these questions would be revealed in this journey of surveillance, self-realization and gratitude.”
The Literature Times: Welcome to The Literature Times, author. Congratulations on the release of your book. What responses are you getting from your readers? Please share your experience with this book.
Subhadeep Banerjee: The initial responses that I have received from some of the readers is that the novel is informative with a very well-formed beginning. Also, it is very enthralling and the style of writing is very engrossing. The suspense holds till the end; it is difficult to sense about the real hidden patriot at the early stages. The plot matures well with plenty of excitement build up and the end is very heart‑touching.
The Literature Times: What encourages you to become an Author?
Subhadeep Banerjee: My father Late Mr. Satyendra Kumar Banerjee was my first English teacher in an informal home setting, who taught me to appreciate old Hollywood and other international movies of the classic era. It was through this exposure, I was initiated into the world of art and literature at a young age of only eight years. I first started writing poetry when I was in 7th grade in school, as a means to express my developing emotions and my world view. I had won the 1st prize in an inter‑school creative writing competition hosted by The Future Foundation School, Calcutta as a 10th grade student of Julien Day School, Calcutta. Subsequently, I enrolled as a student in The Future Foundation School for my plus two levels, studying science. However with time, pursuit of academic and professional goals took priority in life and creative writing had to wait until the opportune moment, which is now.
The Literature Times: What are your favorite topics of writing? Please tell us something about your interest areas in the literature.
Subhadeep Banerjee: I am inspired by the life of Indian nationalist Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his single minded-dedication towards securing our freedom from British rule, alongside the revolutionary struggles of many a leaders who took on the Britsh Raj directly. I think there is plenty of opportunity for such stories of bravery to be told and re-told from a fresh, purely Indian perspective in English language, for an Indian and international audience to read and appreciate our point of view.
The Literature Times: We were hoping you could tell us about some of those writers who had inspired you and whom you follow!
Subhadeep Banerjee: I am a movie buff, particularly old style Hollywood movies dating back to 1940s, 50s and 60s. I am more inspired by strong on-screen acting guided by powerful sceenplays. Some of my most memorable movies with high quality diagolues which have left an impression on me are Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, In the Heat of The Night, The Hunters (1958), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, Patton, A Bridge Too Far, Where Eagle’s Dare, Guns of Navarone, Forces Ten from Navarone, Cassablanca, The Train (1967), North by Northwest, The Philadelphia Story, Charade, To Sir With Love, Odessa File, Top Gun, Thirteen days, Crimson Tide, The Hunt for Red October, Johnny English, and the Soviet film Ballad of a Soldier. I am also inspired by the writing styles of famous authors Sidney Sheldon, Tom Clancy and Oscar awardee filmmaker Satyajit Ray (for his Feluda series in Bengali). I have read all of author Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose’s books on the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and find his narrative style of writing very engrossing. In addition, the book Do and Die by Manini Chatterjee about the revolutionary exploits of Surya Sen in Chittagong has left a strong impression on me.
The Literature Times: The titles seem different and catchy; how you decided it? Please let us know the story behind it.
Subhadeep Banerjee: This story is about struggle of patriotic Indians against British rule, but it also focuses on our inner struggles as human beings first. In a society, we all play our small roles as individuals, but are we brave enough to rise above our limited roles and be ready to take on greater, riskier responsibilities when the situation demands? Some are naturally more brave than the others to take on a public posture, while for many they can serve a cause best while remaining incognito. These thoughts have been the guiding philosophy in deciding the title of the novel. Not every patriot wears his nationalism on his sleeve; not every shadow is nondescript.
The Literature Times: What are your achievements so far? Tell us something about your writing career.
Subhadeep Banerjee: I am a scientist by profession; this is my first foray into writing fiction as a novelist. In my domain of chemistry, I have authored seventeen international journal articles thus far and have guided one PhD fellow towards her thesis in chemistry. I continue to advance my research in the field of fluorescent organic molecules. In addition, as a recreational exercise, I have also authored and directed a few plays held at BITS Pilani KK Birla Goa Campus.
The Literature Times: What is your current goal in writing a career? How do you see your future in writing?
Subhadeep Banerjee: I plan to devote my leisure time to writing more historical fiction and hope to win the support of my readers through their reviews on different online and offline platforms.
The Literature Times: Are there any other books being worked by you? Please let us know about your future projects.
Subhadeep Banerjee: Right now, I am concentrating on popularizing this book; while in future I do have plans to write a sequel to The Hidden Patriot.
The Literature Times: How you see Indian writing in the 21st century? What changes do you see in the modern way of writing? Do you feel it has been changed by the time?
Subhadeep Banerjee: No comments.
The Literature Times: How easy/ difficult it was for you to publish your book? What message would you like to give to budding authors?
Subhadeep Banerjee: The publication process was indeed very hassle free and I would like to appreciate Evincepub publishing house for their support. My message for budding authors would be to first decide on clear writing goals during writing, then to talk to several publishing houses before deciding on who best suits your needs and also to bear in mind who are your likely readers going to be. It is also important to build a network of supportive friends and family who would be willing to buy your book and promote you as a first time author, in their peer group.