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“Ek Thi Daayan happened quite by chance”

Gurgaon-based journalist-author Mukul Sharma is noted for his columns and short stories. He joined the ranks of B-Town when Vishal Bhardwaj approached him after reading a short story he wrote back in the ’80s. Sharma and Bhardwaj worked on the short story and turned it into a novella, which later became the screenplay of Ek Thi Daayan directed by Kannan Iyer.

Background

I started by writing short stories and then poetry before turning to mainstream journalism, ad copy and film reviews, factual science stories, scientific editorials, recreational mathematics, atheistic spiritualism and, finally, I have come full circle to writing science fiction stories again.

On Ek Thi Daayan

Ek Thi Daayan happened by sheer coincidence. My short story Mobius Trips was three to four pages long. Vishal Bhardwaj, who had read that story, liked it a lot and told me that his friend Kannan Iyer was interested in making a film out of it. He suggested we sit together and flesh it out into novella length, if I was interested. Which is what we did.

Short Stories to Screenplay

First of all, Vishal did a lot of the writing. And second, I had converted most of my short stories into film scripts many years ago anyway, because I thought I’d make something on the lines of the Twilight series. And while Vishal and I were working on the screenplay, I wrote it in English, which they later translated into Hindi. First, we had to convert the short story into a novella to turn that into screenplay. Since Vishal has the knowledge about writing screenplays, it was not very difficult.

The Research

They’re all in the science fiction, speculative fiction or fantasy genre. Here’s one: I was returning home pretty high one night from a party in a multistoried building in the early ’80s, when I thought the lift had somehow gone below the ground floor in a highrise, which didn’t have a basement. As a result, my entire head completely caved in at the absurdity and a story was born the next day. Sometimes, that’s the kind of research involved.

Science Fiction- Forte

Maybe because I was more inclined towards science fiction from a very early age. I think even the Indian directors can handle a genre like science fiction. What do they lack that, say, Stanley Kubrick or Andrei Tarkovsky don’t?

His Upcoming Books

Well, Arnold Heinemann has already published a book of my short stories called Dream Sequence. And many years ago, Writers Workshop brought out a book of my poems, Hard Pore Corn. So who knows? Maybe there will be more.

Future Projects

That’s a deeply guarded NASA secret!

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