Farrukh Dhondy is putting a killer through the pages and serialising a war epic. ANUJ KUMAR gives the details
Long after being caught in the police net, Charles Sobhraj continues to fascinate the creative souls. The latest is Farrukh Dhondy, who is writing a novel inspired by the notorious criminal. While Sobhraj is popularly called the serpent, Farrukh has named his work as “The Snake”.
“It is essentially a story of a serial killer and an attempt to look into how these killers operate. I know Charles since my Channel 4 days. Once he called up to get his jail memoirs published. He gave the reference of his cousin Ram Advani who was my college mate in Pune.”
Farrukh’s research on Charles is immaculate. “His real name is Gurudev Sobhraj Bhavnani. Born to a Vietnamese mother and a Sindhi father, he had a troubled childhood as his father left his mother. Then his mother married a French soldier, who named him after Charles De Gaulle.”
Farrukh insists his work is a piece of literature and not just an entertainer about serial killers like “The Silence of Lambs”. He has researched the psychological side.
“Charles spent his early life in Vietnam, which was in turmoil in those days. Imagine a child crossing the road every day over dead bodies to go to school. I believe this made him cold blooded.” He doesn’t believe in terms like bikini killer attributed to Charles. “He was just looking for personal gains and was ready to get through any obstacle.”
Meanwhile, Farrukh is busy writing the screenplay of “Mahabharata” for the small screen. “The copyright rests with Ved Vyasa. I am just writing it as I read it. We are referring to ten versions but the base is the one published by Geeta Press. There is no personal interpretation. However, the language is for the new generation quite unlike what Rahi Masoom Raza wrote last time.” What’s the limit? “Recently I tried using the word muqabla and it was rejected by director Chandra Prakash Dwivedi.”
Farrukh says he read the Amar Chitra Katha version as a kid and is delving into details for the first time.
“I am finding answers to some long standing questions. Like I used to question how Hidimbi, who was sent out to kill Bhim by her brother Hidimba, instead fell in love with him. Now I know Hidimba didn’t treat her well. In Bhim she found a man who could free her from her brother.”
With his Hindi not so perfect, he is being supported by Ranjit Kapoor in penning the dialogues. Farrukh sees female characters as emotional pauses in the epic. “People generally concentrate on the war but its Gandhari, Kunti and Draupadi, who form the base of the emotional conflicts leading to bigger issues.” Farrukh finds Ved Vyasa entry and exit in the epic quite novelistic. “We find this technique in the works of Salman Rushdie and Marquez.”
A man of many tastes, Farrukh is also translating Rumi’s work in English. “I am not happy with any of the modern translations.” Rumi’s masnavi is said to be like divine verse. “It is relevant today when the Sufi essence of Islam is waning.”