Piyush Jha’s third novel, “Anti-Social Network”, highlights the misuse of social networking sites leading to crimes
Piyush Jha, author of “Anti-Social Network” (ASN), believes in pursuing what he desires irrespective of the outcome. He has donned several hats before moving to writing novels — making ad films, feature films and penning screenplays.
An MBA from K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai, Piyush handled client servicing in an advertising agency. Hailing from a middle-class background, he was tutored to choose a steady and remunerative career. Later, he moved to making advertisement films which he describes a “radical shift”.
“I always wanted to do creative work and was keen to become a filmmaker. I realised that you have to do what you want to and hence moved to making ad films,” he says, adding, “after a point, I wanted to do more and that led to writing scripts and making feature films.” His first movie was Chalo America in 2000 followed by King of Bollywood (2004) and Sikandar (2009).
ASN, Piyush’s third novel, is a crime thriller featuring Inspector Virkar revolving around criminals using social networking sites and the internet for blackmailing and sex-tortion. When asked how did he begin writing novels, Jha says while writing screenplay he got a break during which he penned his first novel “Mumbaistan”. He comments, “I became a novelist in that three months period. If I had held myself back, I would not have been able to become an author.” His first novel, to his surprise, was accepted and he signed a deal to write two more — “Compass Box Killer” and “ASN”.
“There were many reports in newspapers about misuse of the internet. This inspired me to write the present novel,” says Piyush. The core of his novels is stimulated by print media stories. He explains, “I couch them in fictional forms adding drama and elements of nava rasa. Drawing from real life, I make them interesting and palatable by using fiction, enabling readers to relate to them.” He candidly admits that all the experience he garnered as a student leader and in different professions is reflected in his writing.
Inspector Virkar first appeared in “Injectionwala”, one of the three stories in “Mumbaistan”, and later in “Compass Box Killer”. When asked who the character is based on, he replies, “The closest will be Anant Welankar, essayed by Om Puri in the movie Ardh Satya. Both are honest and upright.” Incidentally, Virkar has a degree in psychology from Elphinstone College — both of which are true for the author too. Further, like the writer, the cop knows Mumbai like the back of his hand. Refusing to slot him as a “hero”, the author says, “The protagonist believes in upholding the rule of law and delivering justice though he does not mind bending law to achieve this end. Having chosen to defend the right, he sticks to it till the end.”
As to whether Virkar will feature in Piyush’s future thrillers, the answer is affirmative. “As long as readers believe and like him, I will continue,” he says.
Fond of thrillers from an early age and influenced by authors like Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and Lee Child, Piyush enjoys movies and serials of the same genre. At present, he is working on a screenplay — a woman-oriented crime thriller, and plans to write “Mumbaistan II and III”.