BEHIND THE WORDS WITH FARHAD J. DADYBURJOR
Welcome to Reader’s Entertainment, Farhad! How about we beging with where you’re from, where you live, and is writing your full-time job?
I’m a complete Bombay boy (it was renamed Mumbai only much later in my youth) and it’s always been home. There is a spirit to the people of this city who soldier on no matter what, however dire the circumstances – an undying resilience. And I love the fact that it’s become this throbbing, 24×7 city that’s the epicenter in India for making it in the entertainment world. No wonder it’s called the City of Dreams.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years, so writing is pretty much what I do every single day. That said, there is a vast difference between journalism and novel writing. The former is more immediate, forces you to stay on the ball and is largely based on what other people are saying – all written within a tight word count. Writing a novel is much more intimate, more revealing of oneself, from the innards of your own imagination. And yes, the canvas is much larger. Though, the one thing they both share in common is deadlines!
Tell us about your typical writing day, or Atypical!
Whether it’s journalism or writing a novel, I love to write in the late hours of the night, sometimes till three a.m. with a mug of cold coffee. There’s just a calmness, a soothing quality that comes with the night that the harsh light of day never brings. Pretty much what I’m doing right now!
THE OTHER MAN is your latest release, give us a look inside!
The Other Man is possibly the first gay romcom set in Mumbai to get an international release. It centers around Ved Mehra, scion to a mega business empire, who seems to have it all – looks, money, fame. But he’s secretly miserable from heartbreak and still being closeted. In a moment of despair and pressure from his mother, like so many Indian gay men, he agrees to an arranged marriage with a wonderful girl Disha Kapoor. As if fate were laughing at him, around then he encounters Carlos Silva, an American on business in India, and falls madly in love. Just as he’s ready to take some bold steps and come out to his family and call off the engagement, a gay scandal blows up in his face – putting to risk everything Ved’s ever cherished, including losing the love of his life.
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I wanted to give a ringside view of what it’s like to be gay in India, where same-sex relationships were criminalized until three years ago. And at the same time also write a book that celebrates love in all its glory. So many LGBTQ-themed books that I had read in the past always had something sad or depressing at their centre. I wanted this book to be just the opposite – full of hope, full of heart.
Can you share a detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character?
What many people might not know is that on a more personal note, this book is a love letter to a similar relationship I had in the past.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
I think in The Other Man getting the dynamics right between Ved and the girl he’s supposed to marry, Disha, was a little tricky. It needed to be developed carefully since on one hand he has this beautiful and friendly bond growing with her, on the other hand he is lying through his teeth even though he wishes he could just come clean. And in the process hates himself for it. It is a predicament that so many gay men in India face when they are forced into an arranged marriage, mostly to keep their parents happy. Some of them even come out to their parents before the marriage but are told things like “don’t worry, your wife will make you normal.”
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Oh definitely the main protagonist of the book, Ved Mehra. Rich, successful, with a resemblance to George Clooney…I mean, c’mon!
Have any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Many years ago when I was browsing at a bookstore in Mumbai, I happened upon a book by an author I had never heard of – which after reading the first page, I just knew I had to read cover to cover. The sentences fizzed and popped off the page like nothing I had ever seen before. It was The Information by Martin Amis. And I’ve read everything by him since.
The other authors who’ve also influenced me include Bret Easton Ellis, JG Ballard, Edmund White, Alan Hollinghurst and most recently, Hanya Yanagihara. They are all great stylists of the page, with a thundering force of imagination. In fact, Hanya Yanagihara’s new novel To Paradise is the one book I’m eagerly awaiting next year.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
There was this wonderful collection of gay short stories that I came across many years ago called (ironically for the present moment) Quarantine. It was by an American-Indian author Rahul Mehta and I was one of the very few journalists who interviewed him. I really felt his book needed to be spoken about a lot more, celebrated in the press a lot more, but for some reason it wasn’t.
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
I majored in art as a special subject in my last two years in school. I remember there were just three of us in that class, and the art teacher would put on a record on this old gramophone and happily knit whilst we painted. It was a place that fueled true creativity.
Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
Chocolates. Makes everything (and everyone) seem sane…for the moment.
And what is your writing Kryptonite?
I always need to type in a particular font, Bookman Old Style. Find it distracting to work in anything else.
What is the one question you never get asked at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it.
Is it easier being the interviewer or interviewee? Since I’ve done both, from experience I’d say the former ☺
Thank you so much for joining us, Farhad. It was a delight reading about writing on the other side of the world!
Reader’s, here’s a look at THE OTHER MAN….
Heir to his father’s Mumbai business empire, Ved Mehra has money, looks, and status. He is also living as a closeted gay man. Thirty-eight, lonely, still reeling from a breakup, and under pressure from his exasperated mother, Ved agrees to an arranged marriage. He regrettably now faces a doomed future with the perfectly lovely Disha Kapoor.
Then Ved’s world is turned upside down when he meets Carlos Silva, an American on a business trip in India.
As preparations for his wedding get into full swing, Ved finds himself drawn into a relationship he could never have imagined―and ready to take a bold step. Ved is ready to embrace who he is and declare his true feelings regardless of family expectations and staunch traditions. But with his engagement party just days away, and with so much at risk, Ved will have to fight for what he wants―if it’s not too late to get it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Farhad J. Dadyburjor has been an entertainment and lifestyle journalist for over twenty years. Born and based in Mumbai, India, he has held several senior editorial positions, including at DNA newspaper, as launch editor at the international men’s magazine FHM, and currently at The Leela Magazine. He has also written for numerous publications and has a blog of his own. His debut novel, How I Got Lucky, was a satire on India’s celebrity culture that was hailed as “racy, sexy, and riotous” by Vogue India.
Social media links