An interview with Diptakirti Chaudhuri

March 16, 2013

"Salesman by day, writer by night" is what the “About Me” section of Diptakirti Chaudhuri's popular blog reads. Taking its name from the popular Amitav Ghosh novel, the Calcutta Chromosome is by far one of the most exhaustive collections of Bollywood trivia that one can come across on the web.

No wonder then that Mr. Chaudhuri is called the Sidhu Jyatha of Bollywood and his second book Kitnay Aadmi Thay is but a living proof of the same. Indiabookstore gets into a candid one-to-one with the author and comes up with some delightful insights behind the man, the blog and the novel."

1. Cricket followed by Bollywood. What completes the holy trinity?

People who don’t know me suggest I should write about Politics – which completes the Indian trinity of obsession. My friends tell me I should write about Food – which my personal trinity of obsession. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have no knowledge (or lasting interest) in either subject for a full-blown book.   

2. Have you considered movie reviewing as a part-time career option?

Yes. And decided I cannot do it. Writing about indifferent movies week after week is not something I can sustain (though a year like 2012 gives me hope).  

3. Food fiction such as the likes of Chocolat by Joanne Harris is generally not considered as good fiction in India. What's your take on this?

I don’t think we have a sample size large enough to make this assertion. We have hardly gone beyond cookbooks and restaurant guides in India. I hope Salman Rushdie writes a luscious novel about a half-Bengali-half-Malayali girl who grows up in Rajasthan to become India’s first Michelin-starred chef.  

4. Any plans for a full blown fiction novel?

No. But as my favourite fictional hero said, “Never say never again”. 
5. Tell us something about the Bengali intellectual or aantel as we know it.

A Bengali intellectual aka aantel (a unisex term) is equally comfortable with Feluda and Derrida, coffee and Kaifi, mis-en-scene and Messi. He has a day job he hates and lives for his passions. He is erudite, passionate about his eclectic choices and usually sarcastic. He loves to subtly display his knowledge and dislikes crass display of wealth. Quite tragically, he is becoming increasingly rare.  

6. How much do you think you and Greatbong influence each other?

He influences me a lot. For my blog posts, I often copy his style. He is very kind enough to say that he likes my writing but I certainly don’t influence either his content or his style.

We come from very similar family backgrounds, grew up in the same city (and studied in the same college) at the same time and have similar tastes in movies and music. I think that’s what makes our content somewhat similar and often to thoughts about influencing.  

7. When's the sequel for Kitnay Aadmi Thay coming out? 

As soon as I can find a publisher. And of course, I have to write it! 

8. Would it be called “Jo darr gaya, Samjho mar gaya” or “Holi kab hai”? Or do you have anything else in mind?

Will start thinking about the name once I know it is happening. *notes down both suggestions*

9.You are associated with the “I am a Quizzer” campaign for QuizWorks. Salesman by day, writer by night, quizmaster by weekend?

Quizzer in childhood, actually. Now, I am hardly able to participate in quizzes. I try to attend a few Bollywood quizzes – online or offline – though. I talk about quizzing and interesting questions with a few friends, trying to get back into the mood.  
10.What's with this fetish for lists?
Really, what's with it? 

I don’t know where it started. I used to love a Book of Lists (written by Amy and Irving Wallace) when I was a kid. I was great friends with people in college who were always making lists about cricket (“all-time ODI XI for India”), food (“street food of Cal to eat in a day”) and books (“best Bengali short stories”). Probably all that practice turned to Bollywood when I decided to write the book.  

11. Great. Let's do a few lists. Five lists readers can expect in KAT-II. 
Ravi Vermas in Bollywood 
Films set in Goa
Self-referencing in movies 
Beards & Moustaches 
12. Five obscure Bollywood movies which the rest of the world should watch.
Zany comedy – Peechha Karo (dir: Pankaj Parashar) 
Murder mystery – Khamosh (dir: Vinod Chopra)
Masala extravaganza – Dance Dance (dir: B Subhash)
Terrorism drama: Drohkaal (dir: Govind Nihalani)
Passion of moviemaking: Supermen of Malegaon (dir: Faiza A Khan) 
13. Five short stories (across any language) you would choose for a portmanteau film you are making.
To keep it to five, I will choose a macabre theme. 
Khagam – Satyajit Ray 
Tope – Narayan Gangopadhyay
Maran Bhomra – Saradindu Bandyopadhyay
Man from the South / Skin – Roald Dahl 
No Comebacks / There Are No Snakes In Ireland – Frederick Forsythe 

14. Five people you would recommend for their knowledge of Bollywood trivia (and their social media handles)

In alphabetical order: 
Arnab Ray ( | @greatbong) 
Beth Watkins ( | @bethlovesbolly)
Jai Arjun Singh ( | @jaiarjun)  
Sukanya Verma ( | @sukanyaverma) 
Vaibhav Vishal ( | @ofnosurnamefame) 

15. Five movies/ books you do not want (or secretly want) your Valentine to come across.

In the days of YouTube and cleared caches, it is very difficult for Valentines to come across (or to make them come across) anything ? From the old days of college, I would put:
Basic Instinct 
Stardust, Sept 1993 issue 
Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Special (1997 or 1998 had Steffi Graf in it. Sigh.) (sadly defunct. Do read the obituary by Arnab.) 
16. Final question. If you were to remake one of Ram Gopal Varma's movies, which one would it be and why?
I have no intention of remaking any of RGV’s movies. I hope he remakes some of his own movies after smoking a little less of whatever he has been smoking for the last few years! 

Thank you very much Mr. Chaudhuri for taking out time from your busy schedule for this interview with Indiabookstore. We wish you all the best for your next potential bestseller.


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