'The Terrorist': A visceral feel of 26/11
Juggi Bhasin, one of India's first television journalists, mixes real life situations with a liberal dose of fiction to give a visceral feel of the 26/11 mayhem in his new novel.
In "The Terrorist", protagonists Suvir and Murad, both victims of circumstances and numb with the pain of having lost their loved ones, choose to do things differently. While one crosses the border and becomes the most dreaded of terrorists, the other joins the special forces.
Their face-off is a fight to death as one is out to carry out a major terrorist operation in Delhi and the other has been specially called in to foil the attack.
"I was a witness to the complete savagery let loose at the Babri Masjid and then the riots that followed that wiped out so many innocent lives. This entire episode got me thinking ? what if the issue of the Babri Masjid was left unresolved, would generations of young Muslims ever forget and forgive the incident.
"What if the wounds from this act became septic in a few of them and they crossed the line to take to terrorism? That incident got me thinking about the book even though the plot in the book has nothing to do with the demolition of the mosque," Bhasin, who is now more into theatre and writing, contends.
He joined Doordarshan News in 1987 and covered, extensively, the beginning of the insurgencies in Kashmir. He also got exclusive footage of the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992.
"The Terrorist" is the first in a trilogy series with the theme of terrorism in India. He says many of the experiences during his journalist days stayed with him and found their way in the book, published by Penguin. .
"I was there with my camera team when the Babri Masjid was brought down. I was nearly lynched by a mob out there...
It was almost as if I had so much dramatic material to choose from and make sense of it in my book," Bhasin told PTI.
However, he says he had to draw a fine line between the real-life incidents and fiction because "terrorism is a very heavy subject and the challenge before me was to make the book an interesting read".
So he chose the thriller format, where every page was a page turner.
"I mixed real life situations with a liberal dose of fiction to make the narrative simple, interesting and powerful. For instance there is a 26/11 like situation in the book. The account is fictional but the situation has the visceral feel of the real life terror of 26/11," he says.
He tried to incorporate a few real-life incidents though in the form of subtexts.
"One of the protagonists Murad Hussain devises a spectacular plan to assassinate the mastermind of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Now in my opinion justice has still to be given to all those who suffered immensely in the riots, especially the Muslim minority. So in that sense these real life incidents serve as a backdrop but the actual action takes place in the present," he argues.
He also feels that a good story needs to reach to as many people as possible.
"And what better way for this outreach than through films? So when I wrote this book I had a desire that it would be made into a film. I have already received two film offers.
But nothing concrete has been finalised and these are early days as yet."