THE FATHER OF POCKETBOOKS IN INDIA- Ajitabha Bose

Ajitabha Bose is one of India’s most popular and bestselling romance writers. Apart from that he’s also a film-maker and an entrepreneur. He introduced the concept of Pocketbooks in India and currently holds the record for writing the smallest love story in India.

Having sold over 5 lakhcopies of his books to date, he has written six national bestselling short stories and novels. He is best known for his pocketbook, In Love With Shahrukh Khan. Ajitabha entered the Limca Book Of Records for his contribution to literature. He’s also the Chairman and Co-founder of BDL Studios. Under the banner of BDL studios, he has produced over 450 videos and has designed over 30k designs for various clients.

Team Storiyaan had the pleasure to get some insights from the artist, who spoke about his love for books, filmmaking, his inspiration, and Shahrukh Khan! 

Interview

Questions and answers

We would love to start by talking about your passion for the pen. When did you realize your love for writing?

I realized this a long time ago. I was born and brought up in a Bengali family. My parents always liked listening to Rabindranath Tagore’s music. My mom always used to recite his stories and poems. 

I had an obsession with literature. When I moved to college, I started writing blogs and short stories.

 In those days, we had Orkut and Facebook. So I usually wrote on those platforms. One day, my friends told me- why don’t you publish a book? It was in my final year, and I think that was the time I started writing professionally. My first book came out in 2014, which was an anthology. I went on to release my pocketbook in 2015 which was the first of its kind in India.

You are widely known- and even hold a record for your pocketbooks. People usually opt for a collection of short pieces. How did that idea of only one short piece form itself to be a book?

The idea of a pocketbook came to me in 2014. I was traveling back to my hometown for Durga Puja, where I met a girl who complained about thick books. My anthology was out by then, so I gave her a copy to read and she liked it. But that was the day I realized that people like to read, but they avoided reading due to the number of pages. When I came back to Delhi, I spoke to my publisher. I said that I had a story of 5-6k words and asked whether they will publish it? That’s how the idea came about, of a pocketbook. 

Your most popular book's plot revolves around Shahrukh Khan. Where did you find the inspiration from? 

Yes, my most popular book, I’d say, is In ‘Love with Shahrukh Khan’. It revolves around Shahrukh Khan. Actually, it holds good for any superstar. As I’m his fan, I dedicated the book to him. One of his numerous fan-girls is the protagonist of the book. Eventually, she gets ill and has very few days to live. She has a bucket list, which her husband fulfills and one of the things in it is to meet Shahrukh Khan. So the book is about how she meets him. I always write about him- I don’t know if you’ve read them or not, but, I always mention him in some place or other in my books. 

Were you at first scared about the reaction his fans would've had towards the book?

I was more scared thinking whether people would accept my pocketbook because all self-publishing and traditional publishers rejected it. The reason for it is because they thought that I was the first writer in India who was denied by an Indie-Publishing Houses. They didn’t want my money, because it was a new idea. Nobody knew how to print or publish it. Today, after five years, there are over 300 pocketbooks in India. I’m just glad that people have adapted to the idea of pocketbooks.

What did you like to read when you were a boy?

I’ve read a lot of Rabindranath Tagore’s and Ruskin Bond’s works. Of course, I had an interest in literature, but I was not an avid reader. I started reading novels during my college days.

What is your writing process? How does an idea form? And how long does it take for you to write it down? 

Being a filmmaker, a lot of stories go through my mind every day, I’d say, it depends on how it will look on screen or how it will look in a book. Sometimes it’s also based on how readers will take it. 

That’s how I differentiate and write, because I also need stories for my web-series and music videos or short films. And I also need stories that go into my books. That’s my process.

 I always have a story. I start writing and go with the flow. I usually know the starting and how it will end. But I like to be in the flow and understand how the story will work. I become the narrator, so it’s like I am living the story. I think a novel takes about 3-4 months. A pocketbook takes a month. It’s more difficult to write a pocketbook because the words are limited, and the emotions and story must be intact too. 

India Today praised you and your works by saying, "Love Stories runs in his veins." What do you make of that sentence? Do you believe it? 

That was quite flattering and fascinating that India Today gave that review. I don’t know. Maybe, yes, I am a romantic person. People say that, but I don’t believe it. Yes, I can only write love stories. Maybe I will write sci-fi or a thriller, but it will always be a love story at the end of the day. Perhaps it’s because I have loved someone, but I haven’t killed someone, so I cannot feel or draft a murder. I think everyone has fallen in love, and I have too. So I’d say— yes, love stories run through my veins. 

Are there authors you've read a lot or have admired their works? Who influences your writing— as a writer? 

Initially, I read a lot of love stories. I still do read a lot of them. I think everyone knows that Sudeep Nagarkar (Sir) is my inspiration and mentor. I’ve read all his books, and I admire his work. The way he writes love stories is different. They are heartfelt, to be honest.

You diverted towards filmmaking, being a student of journalism. Talk to us about that shift.

 I diverted towards writing. I was always a filmmaker. When I joined college, in 2010, I formed BDL studios. I think it’s been ten years now that I’ve been doing this. It’s my bread and butter. I diverted towards writing in 2014. I never wanted to become a writer. But I used to write a lot of stories on blogs and Facebook. People encouraged me to write a book, and that’s how the book came out. Yes, today, I am more popular as an author now, maybe because the books have worked. And I hope BDL studios also work someday. 

Can we go back a little and talk about your first movie, Dreams? Take us behind the scenes of that project, now that you look back. 

Dreams was my first documentary that came out. It was very special during the time of release and will always be. I remember it was in the year 2010, when Diwali was round the corner, I took my camera and just went out to do a shoot with my cousin. She was a professional model, and also had a team that helped with the shooting. When I came back to college, everybody liked it. I think that’s what motivated me. This was how my journey began.

Talk to us about It's My Love Story. It was your first novel after writing short stories. What was the genesis of the book?

After writing three pocketbooks, ‘The Bestseller’ had really become a bestseller!! It has sold 1.5 lakhs copies to date. One day I was just reading the reviews on a website, where people were asking as to why I don’t write a full-fledged novel.

They had liked the concept of pocketbooks and said that I write good short stories. ‘It’s My Love Story’ is partly inspired by my real life, like how I came to Delhi to become a filmmaker and the rest of the story is fictional. That’s the whole idea of the book. I think it’s an inspirational love story. That’s how the idea of the novel ‘It’s My Love Story’ came.

Romance stands as the primary element you explore in your works. Why does it dominate your works? Where does such inspiration come from? 

I don’t know. I think it’s one of those things you have. I believe love is the emotion everybody has felt in some point of their life. It is one of the most written and explored genres in India. At times it becomes boring, but I make sure the stories are somewhat inspirational, different from what is already there in the market. People have started liking that genre, and I’m writing it, still.

Can you give a few tips for new writers or people who want to venture into writing? 

I would say I’m not the right person to give a tip, but what I always say is – write your heart out. That’s the only unique content which will come out. Don’t think about how people will judge and comment on your story. Don’t think about the grammar of the language part, because there are editors for that. Just write a story, not even a beautiful story- everyone has a story to tell. And just write your heart out, and that way, you’ll have some unique content.

You've also worked with several brands for advertisements. One of the highlights must've been GOOGLE. What was your experience with them? 

I worked with Google Pay for a lot of ads and all. As I said, I’ve always been into film making and ad making. Yes, Google was one of the clients we have worked with. Of course, working with one of the world’s biggest MNCs brings a luxurious experience. We have a lot of clients and still today, they’re one of our clients. 

On days when the low tides hit hard, what is your mantra to get out of such emotions? 

Whenever I feel low, I go traveling. I have a bike. I have a superbike. So I like riding it. I like going to the hills, mountains. Of course, I haven’t been alone- so my best friend, my manager or teammates accompany me. Mountains are the reason for my happiness.

Have you received some criticism for your writing? If yes, how do you cope with the humdrum of naysayers? 

I’m in a profession where— both my filmmaking and my writing are not excluded from criticism. I think in alternate day, I’m critiqued for my writing. Maybe something about I haven’t done justice to my readers. There’s always feedback. I always take them positively. I try to improve- more and more when I’m writingI explore different techniques before I make my next video. That’s how I think it always works.

Who inspires you in life? 

 I think Shahrukh Khan inspires me a lot in my life. Yes, people do have different opinions on him. But I think no one will deny including ones who are not his fans, his personal struggles from being a face in the crowd and his emergence as ‘The Biggest Megastar in the World’ It’s an inspiration that he still works hard and manages to remain so humble and grounded.

If you were to describe the life of an author in one word- what would that word be?

I think I’d say a magician. An author can create anything and do anything. 

What advice would you leave our young achievers with? 

Don’t go towards the pursuit of fame. Work hard on your goals. There are a lot of sacrifices and compromises you have to do. Try to attain your goal as soon as possible and don’t just work towards obtaining fame. I think with time, fame shall will follow. At present, just work toward your goals. That is the only advice I’d leave you with.

You’ve also worked with several brands for advertisements. One of the highlights must’ve been GOOGLE. What was your experience with them? I worked with Google Pay for numerous ads. As I said, I’ve always been into film making and directing ads. Yes, Google was one of the clients we have worked with. Of course, working with one of the world’s biggest MNCs brings a luxurious experience. We have a lot of clients and Google still is one.

Quick 5-

  1. Favorite Book– ‘Few Things Left Unsaid’ by Sudeep Nagarkar and ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green
  2. Favorite Music Album- Aap Ka Suroor. I was a big fan of Himesh Reshamiya. I still am. (Gets a heart attack. Personal comment by me XD XD)  
  3. A favorite book written by you- ‘It’s My Love Story’ & ‘Until We Meet Again’
  4. A favorite film made by you– The ‘Meri Kahaani’ series. 
  1. Ajay Chaudhary

    I have read some of small stories of him and they were too gud that i can’t stop myself reading other stories of him. Love you team Storiyaan for this interview❤️❤️

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