…when you can do it better on earth! Author Samit Basu on writing, Sci-fi sex and why all Bollywood fantasy movies are trash
I watch movies constantly. Any kind of movies from the real high brow to the out-and-out sleazy types. I’m fairly geeky but I don’t restrict myself to science fiction or fantasy. You can’t call all my books Sci-fi. I have written comics, porn, books for young adults, children’s fiction. Similarly, as far as movies are concerned, I do not stick to just the sci-fi or fantasy genre.
Where do you draw your characters from?
I buy my ideas with `50 from a local chai shop where along with tea, they sell a lot of things like cold drinks, cigerettes etc.
Do you plan your writing?
I plan a lot of it. It’s the only aspect of my life that’s fairly organized! I never go into a book without having a clear road map. That is because, when I draw a certain character, if it starts behaving in a way I don’t intend it to behave, I could immediately help it find its way back.
A lot of Bollywood movies have recently experimented with sci-fi and fantasy genres. Why do you think none of them worked?
They are trash! To make something that is clearly different from the typical homegrown Bollywood movies we have grown up watching, we need good writers, directors and big stars. In the West, genre movies are typically made by giants in that field, directors, who have made such movies their trademark, like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Roland Emmerich. You need a cast and crew who can justify a sci-fi budget, and, vice versa.
Scientists have often wondered if a baby can be conceived in zero gravity. Do you see sex as an integral part of the speculative fiction genre?
Sex is a part of every genre now, why only sci-fi? But, to tell you the truth, Sci-fi is one of the most puritanical forms of literature, usually completely devoid of sex! Thinking logically, why would someone go to the extent of having sex in space when there is a far far cheaper alternative, of doing it on Earth.
Does speculative always have to be about the future?
My last book, was set in the summer of 2009. It had Anurag Kashyap as one of the characters. It doesn’t always have to be in the future. History can be as interesting as the future. I wrote this book for young adults that was set on the Titanic and the hero was Mowgli’s son. It also had Rudyard Kipling as one of the characters!
Has it become easier to write a book these days? Or, for that matter, read a book?
Information is available on the go, at the press of a button. I do a lot of my research on the Internet. So yes, it is much easier to write a book and get published. Also, books are being condensed to fit mobile formats. I read books on my phone. But it’s not only the structure of the book. Even the content is being modified to fit portable devices. There is a Korean author who writes in SMS lingo. It’s not the future anymore. It is here. Happening now!
(First Appeared in The Times of India, on Jan 21, 2011)