Westland brings the first of its “Kasthuri Kumar Mystery” series — “Piggies on the Railway”. A chat with its author Smita Jain
After exposing the bitter truth about Mumbai bar girls with Chandni Bar, when filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar was announcing the making of Page 3, he made a few “enemies in advance” in the film and celebrity world. He had said in an interview, “They are apprehensive, thinking pata nahi kya dikha dega'”, though no celebrity could deny that his film only mirrored the truth. Now, here is an author, not-so-young and not-such-a- novice in the world of writing, who has taken upon herself the “responsibility to expose the trivialities that the world of celebrities,” including filmdom, live with. The link-ups, the kidnaps, the green room realities, the chivalries (if at all) and the muaah-muaahs, all are stitched together to form “Piggies on the Railway”, her second novel recently published by Westland.
The author is Smita Jain, a firebrand and seemingly a keen socialite with the core of a quiet writer and an enviable sense of humour. Jain's “Piggies…” hence, has liberal doses of humour which however, doesn't spoil its suspense and thrill. The novel is the first of the “Kasthuri Kumar Mystery” detective series.
Says Jain, “Kasthuri is a 28-year-old daughter of North Indian bureaucrat parents. She has recently resigned voluntarily from the Indian Police Service following a medical problem and joined a private detective service of Mumbai. It will put her IPS experience to good use as also be an excellent vehicle for a hidden passion — writing.”
Kasthuri is known to people as ‘Katie' (her pet name) and in “Piggies…”, she solves a murder mystery after a handsome Kasutav Kapoor, a scion of Bollywood's first family, walks into her office and seeks her services to find his latest blockbuster film's missing heroine Urvashi! Now, Katie would meet all possible people close to Urvashi — which will take her to Bollywood bigwigs, page 3 parties, the green rooms and finally, to a railway track, to her own shock. Being based largely on Bollywood, the novel has meek references to stars like Shah Rukh Khan, the Kapoor clan and so on.
An interesting talker, Mumbai-based Jain, also a screen and script writer for several television serials, reveals how such novels need a real peep into the celebrities' life to be true to the readers. “Bollywood has a strange way of living. Competition, camaraderie, jealousies, eccentricities are all open secrets. For instance, come what may, big heroines of the stature of Katrina (Kaif) and Kareena (Kapoor) don't shoot even for a day extra if their payment is not made at the promised time. In the green room, a big heroine would steal the personal vanity box of another heroine just to harass her. Stars take their family members and pets to foreign shootings on producers' money, and so on.”
And to find such trivialities, Jain devotes evenings to page 3 parties, “where you get all the gossip and your characters too,” she quips.
An avid mountaineer, Jain's first novel “Krishnaa's Konfessions” was a “huge success” which paved the way for this novel. And her previous experience of writing scripts came in handy. She recalls, “It started with a friend bringing me an offer to write dialogues for the pilot episode of his serial. My dialogues were liked and I landed the offer to write the screenplay for Kabhi Haan Kabie Naa on Zee TV. It was followed by a chain of other offers from television serials. But I used to write in quite a westernised (subtle) way but the serial directors would insist ‘iska emotional quotient zyada kar do' and I used to take it to extreme levels. I could never balance it. So, out of frustration ‘Krishnaa's Konfessions' was born. Next, I created Kasthuri because Krishnaa is shrewd.”
“Piggies…”, labelled as a chic lit novel,claims Jain, has got an overwhelming response, especially from teenagers for whom it proved to be a “major stress buster”.
Jain has now given up her job as an investment banker to tell stories. “The new wisdom says you have to surprise yourself as a writer. I am doing just that,” she sums up.