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Coke & crime in Kathmandu

The dark and violent world of global drug trade is Barun Chanda’s setting on his third outing as a writer.

The story revolves around multinational company executive Pradipto, whose work takes him to Kathmandu, where a chance encounter with a mysterious woman sucks him into the murky world of narcotics trafficking.

“That’s why I chose to call the novel Coke, meaning cocaine,” explained Chanda, a former advertising executive best known for his role in Satyajit Ray’s Seemabaddha.

Scores of his friends and fans, both young and old, turned up at the Crossword bookstore on Elgin Road on Friday for the launch of the novel. Film-maker Sandip Ray did the honours and read out excerpts.

“When I was small, I would go around New Market with Barunda. He would imagine all these plots and we would plan films with chase sequences set in that area. I’m the first one in the queue if this novel is to be filmed!” said Ray.

The actor’s previous two novels, Shaaper Jhaapi and Kidnap, were whodunnits featuring private eye Abinash Roy. “Unlike them, Coke is an out and out thriller with an undercurrent of humour. The story moves at breakneck speed and has a lot of action and violence,” according to the writer.

Describing his books as “mystery thriller for adults”, Chanda said: “There are many books of this genre in English that are better than mine. Bengali crime thrillers are usually written for children, while I wanted to write for adults.”

Incidents in Chanda’s life helped shape the 176-page novel. “In my younger days, I went through experiences that made me a person who would not care about anything. Today I am a lot more domesticated. Pradipto’s character is similar,” said Chanda.

He had written the story in the 1970s. “I had misplaced the manuscript soon after completing it. I found it in a cupboard last year and rewrote many of the parts, which helped because I could add more characters and make the narrative more realistic and harsh.”

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