Screenwriters Anshul Vijayvargiya and Debashish Irengbamhe’s first novel is out

Tune for the Dead is a breathless ride with hair-raising chases, suicides and murders galore

In the pretty hillside town of Manali, Detective Dhruv is eking out a lonely existence when he is dragged into the world of espionage and conspiracy. Tune for the Dead (Harper Collins) by screenwriters Anshul Vijayvargiya and Debashish Irengbamhe is a breathless ride with hair-raising chases, suicides and murders galore.

Anshul says the novel “began with as a one-line as we were brainstorming on possible ideas to develop into a book. Even though we have done ample screen-writing as a team (for television shows including Adaalat, Gumrah, Savdhaan India, CID, Webbed and Agent Raghav) for years, this was our first collaboration together as authors so we knew it had to be something spectacular enough to excite us both.”

Screenwriters Anshul Vijayvargiya and Debashish Irengbamhe’s first novel is out

Debashish chimes in, “When the premise of Tune for the Dead struck, along with Detective Dhruv’s character profile, we knew we had a winner. After that, it took around three months for us to crack the story, plot and basic outline of the novel, and another three months to flesh it out into a first draft. The revisions followed.”

Describing the thriller as the first of many in the Detective Dhruv series, Anshul says, “It is not an origin story. Dhruv is already a detective at the time Tune For The Dead takes place. And even though there will be insights into his past in this story, the origin of Detective Dhruv will unfold in the succeeding novels.”

Page or screen
  • Anshul, who has worked on films such as Kidnap, Toonpur Ka Superhero and Deadline – Sirf 24 Ghante, talks of the difference between writing a novel and a film. “Screen-writing caters to the audio-visual medium. The storytelling is supported by the performances of actors and helmed by directors who, with a team of technicians, manipulate the audience’s emotions with the camera angles, lighting, sets, costumes, editing and background score amongst other things. A reader on the other hand is the actor, director, cameraman, set designer and musician.”
  • “Screen-writing is also an elaborate process,” Debashish says. “A screenplay goes through several people and it is not necessary that a film or television show is a perfect translation of the script. While there is no dilution in an author’s work, a screenwriter is often persuaded to write in a certain way or change things according to the vision of the director or due to the limitations of production resources and even at times to cater to a particular actor’s needs.”

The most significant pro of writing a series, Debashish says, is the promise of beginning something new. “It has been a while since we had an impactful Indian detective series in the tradition of evergreen classics such as Feluda or Byomkesh Bakshi. With Detective Dhruv, we hope to achieve that.”

The con, Anshul says is having to give readers something new to look forward to with each book, while upping the ante in terms of adventure, character growth and plot. “Needless to say, it is a challenge we look forward to.”

With action hurtling from Manali to Beijing with a thrilling finish in Kolkata, Tune for the Dead reads like a movie. “That is the dream,” says Debashish. “In fact, we have already completed the screenplay adaptation of the book.”

Anshul says while they have a wish list of actors to play Dhruv, “It is better left to the producer and director as a lot of factors come in play before any film’s casting is locked.”

The sidekick

All detectives need a sidekick and Dhruv’s is Pintoo, the cockroach with a single antenna, rescued and named by Dhruv. Debashish says, “What begins as a human gesture soon turns into companionship. Pintoo enables Dhruv to look at his own life from a third-person perspective. They may be different species yet alike in many ways. Found socially repulsive by most, they are both survivors. Their uncanny friendship and camaraderie is going to be one of the continuing tracks in the series.”

Screenwriters Anshul Vijayvargiya and Debashish Irengbamhe’s first novel is out

Though writing is often a solitary pursuit, Debashish and Anshul seem to have cracked the collaboration code. “We begin with brainstorming our way from the one-liner to the synopsis to the basic outline of the story. Once all the details are in place, the writing work begins. The key is to have mutual respect for the other’s views and to keep oneself open to new perspectives. We also give each other space before reconnecting for yet another fruitful creative session,” says Anshul.

Favourite detectives

Debashish who has written two novels (Me, Mia, Multiple and Charlie Next Door) says Jessica Jones from the Netflix series is his favourite detective. “I know she isn’t what comes to mind for most people when they think of the detective genre, considering the overlap with the superhero genre. However, I love the way in which they present a mix of a reclusive detective, a compelling antagonist, a riveting plot, and a healthy dose of superhuman strength.”

Anshul on the other hand bats for Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. “The tiny, ordinary looking man, whose extra-ordinary powers stem from his grey cells. His acute understanding of human behavior, unparalleled observational skill and unshakeable integrity make him one of the finest detectives. He is arrogant at times but he is still a well-behaved detective, always respectful to others and extremely classy. His OCD often leads to funny moments. He is also sensitive towards human emotions and is deeply pained by the loss of humanity. My love for Byomkesh Bakshi is the closest match to Monsieur Poirot.”

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 3:20:36 AM |

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