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Thrillers with a substance

Updated on: 11 March,2021 12:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
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Sourabh Mukherjee has emerged as one of the front runners in Indian crime fiction over the last five years. His novels In the Shadows of Death, The Colours of Passion, The Sinners, and his recent bestseller in Bengali Chandralekha Nihatohave left their marks on the genre

Thrillers with a substance

Sourabh Mukherjee

“It is absolutely necessary for a writer to take a stand. As writers, we have a responsibility to entertain people, but at the same time, the power to reach out to a large section of the population comes with the responsibility to positively influence their opinion,” says Sourabh Mukherjee, who has emerged as one of the front runners in Indian crime fiction over the last five years. His novels In the Shadows of Death, The Colours of Passion, The Sinners, and his recent bestseller in Bengali Chandralekha Nihatohave left their marks on the genre.

Set in the city of Kolkata, In the Shadows of Death talks about a generation struggling to handle material ambitions and desires. The book deals with the theme of sexual harassment of the male child in the confines of the home, and the sexual exploitation of men at the workplace. These are taboo topics, that have hardly been touched upon by mainstream Indian crime fiction. “The novel doesn’t just piece together a jigsaw; it addresses the psyche of childhood trauma, and how early experiences influence the way a man perceives a woman, and how some of these perceptions are further reinforced in the course of his life,” Mukherjee says about In the Shadows of Death.

Mukherjee, in his book, also introduced Detective Agni Mitra, a protagonist who manages the completely break the stereotype. “We have, for long, celebrated the spirited detective — one who was flawless. I wanted Mitra to be more human – a man with foibles, trying to set right the world, while his own spiraled towards destruction. He is a policeman whose heart sometimes gets in the way of better judgment,” says Mukherjee about his ‘hero’.

The book went on to become a hot-seller applauded by readers, critics, and the national media, with its audio rights purchased by Storytel.

Agni Mitra appears again in Mukherjee’s second novel The Colours of Passion. Inspired by true events with the entertainment industry as a backdrop, the story deals with the theme of alternate sexuality, again an unconventional topic for a mainstream Indian thriller, written at a time when the practice of homosexuality was deemed unconstitutional and illegal. “I believe in equality and in respecting relationships. As a society, we are quick to dismiss those relationships that do not conform to so-called ideal definitions. This is something I don’t agree with, and the title of the book alludes to that. Passion and love can be of various shades,” Mukherjee says about The Colours of Passion. The insecurities and arrogance of some of his characters were drawn from personalities in the movie and fashion business. The book was not only appreciated by readers and the media, but it was also long-listed by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) in Mumbai International Film Festival, 2018 for screen adaptation.

Mukherjee’s third novel The Sinners was again an instant success with readers across the country. It was a corporate thriller in the true sense with elements of corporate espionage, high-stake dealings, honeytraps, and professional rivalries with a jaw-dropping twist in the plot. Mukherjee attributes the setting to an affinity towards the dynamics of the modern Indian urban society, and the problems it is susceptible to. “As an author, these aspects of the modern urban society intrigue me enough to want to present them in a manner that readers can relate to,” Mukherjee says about his urban thrillers. The audio rights of The Sinners were picked by Amazon Audible.

In 2020, Mukherjee published his first Bengali thriller ChandralekhaNihato (Chandralekha is Dead). The book, applauded by his readers and by several Bengali publications and websites, was, in the garb of a murder mystery, a stark commentary on the film industry, especially the politicization of the same, and issues like sexual exploitation and substance abuse, that coincidentally also made headlines around the time of the book’s release.

Mukherjee says that he has two more thrillers lined up for release in the coming months. “Both these books deal with burning issues and the unpredictability of the human mind,” Mukherjee guarantees as he signs off.

Mukherjee’s books are available in bookstores and online at

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