Mainak Dhar’s latest novel “A Little Mayhem” voices concern about the injustice meted out to 50 per cent of the population — women

The real-life incident, wherein a 23-old-student was brutally raped by six men on December 16, 2012, in New Delhi, enraged Mainak Dhar — author of horror and management books like “Alice in Deadland”, “Through the Killing Glass”, “Zombiestan”, “Brand Management 101: 101 Lessons from real-world marketing” among others — into writing “A Little Mayhem.” “It was my realisation that my fictional horrors paled before the real horrors so many women face everyday in India, that spurred me to react to the issue the best a writer can – with his words,” says Mainak about switching to a different genre of writing. He was equally disturbed by the brazen nature of the crime, the apathy of the police and the way many blamed the victim.

At the same time, the author was inspired by the immense courage of the young woman who came to be known as Nirbhaya, and the way so many ordinary people rallied together to protest.

The story clearly establishes that the hegemony of politician-businessman-bureaucrat nexus leads to perpetration of crimes wherein they deem themselves above the law of the land. Agreeing, Mainak pins hope on “the relatively free and fair judiciary and the social media” to give justice to the common people and levelling the playing field. The author feels that apart from the systemic fixes like training and empathy of police, faster convictions etc, long-term changes must come from within by examining how we portray and view women.

The society must make each woman confident and empowered enough to fight back and each man not to look the other way when he sees a woman being harassed. Further, Mainak feels that “the biggest contribution of women will be as mothers — who can bring up their daughters without feeling weak or inferior and their sons to respect women.” Terming usage of the words “eve-teasing” obnoxious, he says it should be “sexual assault or harassment” and dealt with severely. The women should not wait for justice to be served but demand it.

Fond of authors like Tolkien for his ability to create worlds and characters, Stephen King who inspired him to take up writing seriously and Roald Dahl for his twists in the tale, Mainak says his novel does not glorify vigilantism and in fact it should be interpreted as a warning to those who are supposed to provide safety to people that their constant failure will force the masses to take law in their hands. He views the novel as a small step in reiterating that the system is failing its citizens and that a time will come when people will decide that the system is no longer needed, leading to chaos, and sincerely hopes that the leaders will not allow things to come to such a pass.

The author terms “spending time with his family” as his biggest passion. At present taking a break, he hopes to get back to writing soon enough.

Mainak describes “A Little Mayhem” as an attempt to give voice to his rage and highlight that sometimes, what is needed is for each individual to shake off apathy and helplessness and stand up to be counted. “Don't wait for someone else to bring about change — lead it,” he emphasises.