Barun Chanda's latest novel Murder in the Monastery is a gripping crime thriller
AN AVID FAN of crime thrillers, veteran actor and author Barun Chanda’s face lights up at the mention of novelists like Len Deighton and John Le Carre. Writing since 2009 and having authored six crime thrillers including Kidnap, Coke and Robibar, Barun reveals that there is a part of him in Avinash Roy, the main protagonist and ace detective in his latest novel, Murder in the Monastery. Over fresh lemonade and tea, at his Ballygunge residence before his book signing event at Story, the actor-writer-elocutionist talks about his new novel.
With a twinkle in his eyes the Lootera actor reminisces his love for the crime thriller genre and says, “When I started working I required lighter reads because as a student of English literature I have been reading all heavy stuff. Authors like Len Deighton and John Le Carre got me hooked. Imagine a title like Call For The Dead. It made me inquisitive and gripped me with its title.” Talking about authors of the genre beyond Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, he points out, “Agatha and Doyle had a fantastic style of writing but the new generation of authors are a whole new kettle of fish. They too have their own distinctive style. Imagine an author who wrote crime thrillers on just racehorses. Imagine creating a sub-genre inside a genre.” Confessing that he doesn’t read much now because he is busy translating one of his books into English, he pulls out Agatha Christie’s Hound of Death, a collection of short stories from his shelf, and recommends that we read the ghost stories.
How did Murder in the Monastery happen, we asked? He easily replies, “I am a movie buff and not just an actor. I love movies; I love to create stories.” Continuing further he says, “I read some books having a reference of Christ being in India and also watched a documentary on BBC on the same subject. It is rumoured that there is a rare book written in Bali preserved in Hemis Monastery in Leh narrating the journey of Christ in India. My plot, set in Sikkim’s Pemayangtse Monastery, deviates from this point and talks about Avinash Roy, the detective who tries to solve the mystery of the missing book while murders are happening in the monastery.” Throwing more light on the lead character the Bhobishyoter Bhoot actor informs that apart from being a part of him, Avinash is inspired by fictional characters - Inspector Morse and George Smiley. He quickly fetches his Inspector Morse collection and makes us add it to our read-list. Putting a finger on his favourite among his novels septuagenarian author chose his latest one and reasoned, “I have put in a lot of hard work into it and when I look back at it now, I am amazed how I could create so many characters that never existed. I breathed flesh and blood into them and they read real.” When asked which among his books should be adapted on screen he says, ‘all of them’, though he struggles to choose a director who would give direction to his story. “You need someone who understands this genre very well because a subtle humour is essential in a crime thriller,” avers Chanda appreciating Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo.