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Updated: April 16, 2013 19:21 IST

Twist in the tale

SRAVASTI DATTA
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FLYING HIGH: Sanjay Chopra, like Arthur Hailey and Wilbur
Smith, is a pilot
FLYING HIGH: Sanjay Chopra, like Arthur Hailey and Wilbur Smith, is a pilot

Sanjay Chopra’s Talespin is a collection of short stories that range from historical to suspense stories

Being an international pilot has always been Sanjay Chopra’s first love, but writing and reading are his other pursuits. “I started learning to fly when I was 21. Every small boy wants to become a pilot, and those who never grow up actually go on to become one. It requires a certain mindset and a core discipline which is true of almost all jobs.”

The husband of Bollywood actor Tisca Chopra, Sanjay was in the city recently at ITC Windsor for the launch of his collection of short stories Talespin, published by Harper Collins. “I began writing short stories a few years ago and sent them as entries to international competitions to see how they were received.”

It was after some of his stories begun winning awards that Sanjay decided to write his first book. “This doesn’t fall into any fixed genre. It is a mix of military, historical, crime and supernatural tales. It takes you across a myriad of characters, from Alexander to Timor to a computer hacker in today’s world, fighter pilots and Mughal damsels.”

Talespin is so named as every story has a spin to it, says Sanjay. “There’s a suspense element to every story, whether it is a suspense story or not.” Speaking about historical fiction,

Sanjay says, “Novels with period settings are very popular in the west. History has shades of grey, because it is always reported by the winning side. We are examining history from so many angles. It is a great time to fictionalise history and see what stories you can tell. But not all the stories are historical fiction.”

Although Sanjay says storytelling comes naturally to him, he pursued a correspondence course from the London School of Journalism to further hone his craft. “I firmly believe that no one can teach you how to tell a story. Either people are born storytellers or they are not. What courses and teachers can teach you is how to work on the craft of storytelling. The course helped me to put my thoughts together.”

One of his biggest critics is Tisca. “Her creative inputs are very nice. I believe that she has a very good sense of storytelling herself.” And how did they meet? “That’s a long story,” he smiles and says, “She was a close friend of an airhostess I knew. We are best friends who have a lot in common and a similar sense of humour.”

Tisca and Sanjay are working on a film script. “One of the stories, The Last Gurkha, in the book is being converted into a film. The Last Gurkha is about a relationship between a grandfather and grandson against the backdrop of the Gurkha service they do for the Army.”

Incidentally, writers such as Arthur Hailey and Wilbur Smith were ex-pilots. “Harper Collins informed me there are only two working pilots who write fiction, one is me, the other is a pilot with British Airways.”

Sanjay is at present writing a novel. “It’s about a woman journalist who is caught up with what is happening in Kashmir.”

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