Tushar Raheja completed his schooling from Apeejay School, Faridabad, and engineering from IIT Delhi.
NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
My literary journey obviously began with reading. Kipling, Twain, Wodehouse, R K Narayan enthralled me with their imagination. Yet, I was always more influenced by films and set out to become a filmmaker. My first book began as a script. I was 20 then and at vibrant IIT, Delhi. The realization that it needs great amount of money and expertise to shoot made me work that into a novel.
NAW- Tell us about your book ‘Romi and Gang’, how did you get the idea for the book? Did you carry out any research?
Romi and Gang is the story of a typical Indian boy next door. You will find him in the street anywhere in India, smitten by cricket. In that sense it is my story. I grew up playing, watching or thinking about cricket 24 X 7. That was my research. My life with cricket. I still train four times a week at a local club in my town. That helps to write intimately about the game.
NAW- Are you a cricket lover since the game does feature prominently in your book?
Guess that is answered above.
NAW- How much of the book’s incidents are inspired from your own life?
As I told you, it is inspired from the various tussles we had with each other as kids in the maidan or the street. The middle class canvas is derived from my life.
NAW- Tell us about your other book, ‘Anything for you maam’? How long did it take to finish it? Did you face any difficulties in finding a publisher? Did you hire an agency for representation?
It took about a year and half, off and on. I was an engineering student then. Back then, it was a miracle to get published in India. There were no agencies. There were about six publishers of fiction. It was fairly uncomplicated in a sense. You sent your script to the six and waited for their replies.
NAW- Did you face rejections from publishers early on? If yes, how did you cope with it?
I faced one rejection. That is, one publisher was kind to notify me. The big ones didn’t bother replying back. It is not in my nature to get disconcerted. Least of all getting rejected by an elitist clique.
NAW- Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your books?
It can’t happen. Michael J Fox for AFYM, if only he was Indian and younger. For Romi and Gang’s coach/father Irrfan Khan is a good choice.
NAW-Please name your five favourite books.
Kim, Swami and Friends, Tom Sawyer, Three Men in a Boat, Ukridge.
NAW- When you are reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional printed paper books?
That’s a tough one. Love the smell of books but have never been a fan of elitist bookstores and expensive books. So ebooks have made reading remarkably democratic and accessible. So I am happy to read on Kindle but, any day, prefer diving into a pile of old books and fishing out treasures.
NAW- How was the response to your two books? Did you get any hate mail?
It’s all out there on the web. They have sold well, of course, and reviewed favourably by most Indian newspapers. Getting hate mail is a part of being in the public eye.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
Next one is, finally, a movie – if I have to slot it – a noir with sci-fi undertones.
The next book will take you out your armchair to a wormhole for a ride of a life time 🙂
Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)