Fiction writers discuss relevance of work to contemporary society
Islamabad: The fiction writers discussed creative process, their works and their relevance to contemporary society at a session of Islamabad Literature Festival yesterday.
The session ‘Subjunctive Fictions: Stories We Invent about the World We Inhabit’ was part of the three-day festival.
Piyush Jha, a Mumbai-based film director, advertising filmmaker and the author of best selling crime fiction novels quoting Stephen King, an American author of contemporary science fiction and fantasy, said the writer once said, “You read, read and read and think it’s a crap and I can write better than this. That’s when you become a writer.”Jha’s films Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar are noted for the unconventionality of the subject matter and for their relevance to contemporary society.
“I work so hard to get details of the surroundings so that the audience can feel and sense the situation,” he said. “Steep yourself into the subject whatever you work on that it becomes a part of you,” he added.Referring to his film Sikandar, he said he had never been to Kashmir so he had to do a lot of research and it was so perfectly done that nobody could know that it was made by a Hindu Brahmin who had never been to Kashmir.
The idea of the film had clicked to his mind by seeing a young boy from the area visiting Mumbai who had the knowledge of all kinds of guns. His obsession and knowledge of the weapons intrigued the writer to work on the subject. “I just show my wife whatever I write and go on with it if she approves or rewrite if she does not like,” he quipped. Framji Minwalla, who is currently the chair of the department social sciences and liberal arts at the Institute of Business Administration Karachi and has taught in other institutions in and outside the country, agreed with the Indian guest.Franz Kafka had written his first novel ‘Amerika’ but actually he had not visited the place, he said. He opined that fiction is a way to explore everything that ordinary conversation cannot do. Human figure is the centre of all the fictions, said Shehryar Fazli, a novelist, senior analyst and South Asia Regional Editor for the International Crisis Group. “But the detailing also matters and readers respond to wrong detailing, at least in my case. Novel has always been a wild form and you can experiment with different techniques to relate it to the contemporary world,” he added.But there must be a responsible writing while writing fiction too, said Qaisra Shahraz, a novelist, short story and scriptwriter.
“Writing must not be for the sake of writing only and at others’ stake. It should not offend, mock and ridicule people living in other cultures and should not offend their religious beliefs,” she said, giving example of Salman Rushdi, an Indian-born British novelist. There should be a cap to freedom to speech as well, she noted.Piyush Jha who visited Pakistan for the first time concluded the conversation thanking the audience for their lovely response and hospitality.