Monday, October 27, 2008

Agent Vinod

Don't know about you but like millions of others in the Hindi belt, I too grew up with Hindi and Urdu pulp fiction. Works of James Hadley Chase in Hindi (still remember one of the titles, Drum of Coco), Surendra Mohan Pathak, Ved Prakash Sharma, and even Gulshan Nanda, among others, became part of my daily literary (?) fodder. But it was Ibn-e Safi's Imran Series that was my favourite: not just for its plots but also for its wit and humour. I didn't read any English novel until I was in college, and I am not saying this with pride--such was the environment in the small town that I came from. Even though your Jackie Collinses and Harold Robbinses (English pulp) were available at the AHW bookstalls, their prices were out of my reach.

We never saw interviews of these well-known pulp writers, even though their books sold 500,000-600,000 copies easily without any pre- or post-launch publicity. They were household names in the Hindi belt.

Sadly, the once might Hindi pulp is dying in India, says columnist Mrinal Pande. This is happening, she argues, thanks to the cable television:

Cable television, the new sassy kid on the block, picked up ideas from pulp and began to jazz up romance, crime and soft porn to create soaps and programmes that bore names straight out of the Meerut novels : Sansani, Jurm, Shhhh…Koi Hai. Then came the T-Rex, the reality shows actually featuring those that have rubbed shoulders with the mysterious underworld of crime and sleaze: the Shilpa Shettys, Rahul Mahajans and Monica Bedis. After such entertainment, who needs pulp?


But looks like Bollywood too would join the fray. Sriram Raghavan who made the rocking Johnny Gaddar, is making Agent Vinod with Saif Khan. Sounds good. I hope someone will take up Ibne Safi too.


Arfi said...

I read some Ibn-e-Safi when very young and when I could still read Urdu. A riveting science fiction piece called Neela Aasman is all I can recall now.

However, have you read about this. Maybe someone would do the same for Hindi-Urdu pulp. I hope.

Zafar Anjum said...

Arfi Saheb, thanks four comments. What a coincidence! I am also reviewing the Blaft anthology of Tamil pulp fiction):