The cover of The Inferno
Shock waves of Mumbai’s 26/11, the grisly terror attacks that almost blew up India’s business capital and gave the world some of the deadliest combat footage from the iconic Taj hotel’s shadows, received fresh frission when the lone arrested terrorist Ajmal Kasab was recently hanged.
The 2008 Mumbai terror attacks inspired Hazaribagh’s 23-year-old Kanishk Banka, who is now a film direction student at Mumbai’s Whistling Woods International, to pen a novel.
The Inferno — A Thought Fire, which draws inspiration from the 2008 November tragedy acknowledged as one of the biggest terror attacks in the world in recent times, has been published by WhiteFeatherPublications of Mumbai.
Kanishk, who was still a teenager at the time the attacks occurred, has a provocative take. Though Kasab was caught, hanged and buried in Pune’s Yerwada Jail last month, Kanishk feels he was made a scapegoat.
“Kasab’s story was a major incident that encouraged me to write the novel. Film-maker Subhash Ghai (who also runs Whistling Woods International) read my manuscript and promised to make a film on the story,” Kanishk said.
Not surprisingly, Kanishk has dedicated his book to Ghai “the genius, the showman” for being a “towering inspiration to me”.
An alumnus of Hazaribagh’s DAV Public School, Kanishk is also simultaneously pursuing his masters in journalism and mass communication from Sikkim Manipal University via a correspondence course.
“Right from my school days, I have been fascinated with literature and the performing arts,” the debutante author, who also wants to direct films in the near future, says.
Hailing from a small-town, middle class family, how did he get the guts to choose a difficult, if not an utterly controversial topic for his first novel?
“I come from a liberal, educated family. My father A.K. Banka is the additional secretary in the animal husbandry department, posted in Ranchi, my mother Geetanjali is a homemaker and elder brother who is also my best friend Kunal, a dentist, also based in Ranchi. They’ve all encouraged me to go ahead,” said the first-time author.
“The story of my novel revolves round three youths Sikander, a pious man who is a wrong person in the wrong place, Siddharth, an aimless rebel at heart, and Zaina, a silent spectator of fate’s drama. But I don’t want to give away the plot,” he beamed.
How has he fictionally dealt with Kasab, who became the face of 26/11 and sparked national outrage?
“In my book, I just wanted to point out how unemployed youths were made victims of political and religious extremism. Terrorist Kasab’s life made me to think how unemployed youths are made scapegoats,” he said seriously.
He added that the issue was about youths being manipulated by powerful lobbies on the path of terror.
“Kasab was only 23 when he and the team came on their Mumbai mission.”
To shake himself out of the sombre mood, the author adds: “It’s a gripping story and a huge canvas. I hope readers love it. And yes, I do hope a film comes out of it.”
Does he have any dream star cast? No, Kanishk isn’t spilling the beans right now, but his fingers are tightly crossed.