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Mired in conflict

PREETI ZACHARIAH
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BOOK Broadcast journalist Abhisar Sharma draws on his experience in conflict-ridden areas to pen his novel End Of The Machete

WRITING WITH HIS EYESBeing associated with television has made me a very visual person, says Abhisar
WRITING WITH HIS EYESBeing associated with television has made me a very visual person, says Abhisar

It begins with a brutal decapitation — one described in such minute detail that you can almost feel the blood spatter your face. Aptly named Edge of the Machete , Abhisar Sharma’s novel — the second of the Taliban conundrum trilogy — is a racy thriller set in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region, rife with conflict and turmoil that plagues this area.

Yet the writer himself is a well-spoken, gentle-eyed man with an easy smile — a far cry from the blood-thirsty characters that populate his recent novel. “I am a passionate student of the Af-Pak region,” says Abhisar. “This novel is the story of three men and how their lives cross when they enter this region.” Being a broadcast journalist has rubbed off on Abhisar. “Being associated with television has made me a very visual person so what I write has to have a strong visual appeal.” he says. “Critics have said that my depictions of violence are overtly descriptive but I like it that way. I need to be true to myself.” Violence is no stranger to Abhisar. He has visited many conflict-ridden areas and has expansively covered events such as the Gujarat Riots, 9/11, Kashmir and Assam violence and the Jasmine Revolution.

He recalls lying on the floor of a hotel lobby in Kashmir with bullets flying over his head, and adds, “As a journalist, when you cover a hostile situation you become part of that. And I think this exposure enables me to have a better perspective than an ordinary Indian.” One of his stories titled “Laal masjid ka safed sach” won him the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Indian Award but it also lead to him being banned from Pakistan. However in spite of that, he continued to base his stories out of that region using his contacts in the country who send him information and footage for a lowdown of what is happening.

Challenges

That, along with his experience, made it easy for him to visualise and give shape to his novel.

“I found it challenging only in two situations. One was a description of a shootout in the CIA, which I had access to only though Google Earth. I met someone from the embassy who went through the piece and said it read okay. The other time was when I had to describe the Belmarsh prison —Jeffery Archer’s Prison Di aries helped a lot, at that point.” Abhisar has written three books — Eye of the Predator and The Edge of the Machete have already been released while his third one titled Babu: A Hundred Lies For You is slotted to release shortly. The last of the trilogy called The Dark Side of Me will be his fourth novel.

Yet he still has one major aspiration as far as writing is concerned — “I’d like to write a fantasy novel. My nine-year-old daughter keeps asking me to write a book that she can read and I want to some day.”

PREETI ZACHARIAH

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