Anirudh Bahal: The Investigative Journo

Operation Shadayantra (Zee news), Operation Dhuryodan (Aaj Tak), Sting Operation by CNN Ibn, and so on and So forth. The list goes on. But Who cares life goes on for the corrupt and the TV channels (not any exception)……

The Tehelka spy (and now the much famous MPs caught on camera taking Bribe for raiaing questions in the parliament)who caught them red-handed, on his new thriller, Bunker 13 (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux), which is making waves abroad

Was there always a writer hidden in the investigative reporter?
I always harboured literary ambitions.

Did your experience as an investigative reporter help?
As a journalist, your exposure is much more and therefore you have more material to exercise your imagination.

Did you learn anything when your first novel flopped?
Every writer has to churn out half-a-million odd words before writing anything of substance.

Are you attracted to the seamy side of life?
For me, life’s a composite experience.

Why did you choose to write a thriller?
I’d slot it as espionage fiction.

Why did you leave Tehelka?
I wanted to get back to journalism, something that I have been unable to do for many months now because of the government bogging us down with a lot of legal nonsense.

What is Cobrapost?
Cobrapost.com is a small effort to establish an independent media platform.

How big was the advance for this book?
A significant sum.

What is the foreign reaction to Bunker 13?
The reviews thus far have been encouraging.

Other than Salinger, who are your role models?
I love the American writers of the ’50s and ’60s. I think the literary energy of that period was awesome—Kerouac, Ken Kassey, Heller etc.

The Rediff Interview/Aniruddha Bahal  

May 30, 2003

When you read a book described by Britain’s Booklist magazine as a ‘novel of high-tech weaponry and hedonism which should be a summer sensation,’ you may wonder if Dale Brown and Sidney Sheldon have written it together.

Bunker 13 is by one of India’s best-known journalists Aniruddha Bahal. While it is fast-paced, sensational and full of guilty pleasures, it is also hailed as a strong work of fiction.

In fact, the novel is compared to Norman Mailer’s landmark The Naked and the Dead. Bunker 13 will be published June 2 in America by Farrar Straus Giroux, which publishes Nobel Laureates including Nadine Gordimer (Loot) and by Faber & Faber in England. 

Bahal’s ‘novel reminds me of The Naked and The Dead, Norman Mailer’s literary breakthrough,’ wrote Burhan Wazir in the British newspaper The Observer.

‘Mailer’s fictionalized account of the taking of the Pacific islands during the Second World War broke new ground in 1948 with its rough and ready military vernacular. Much like The Naked and The Dead, Bunker 13 is elevated by first-hand authenticity; it is no less gritty and the text is similarly revealing about the truth of war,’ Wazir wrote.

Bahal, who broke the story about corruption in India’s defense establishment in March 2000 along with colleagues at tehelka.com, is in America to promote his novel.

Bahal, who ‘bribed’ defense ministry officials to make Indians aware of corruption in high places, has created an interesting protagonist in his novel: a former army officer, who has turned to investigative journalism, caught in the world of double and triple-crossing rogue army officers in Kashmir.

He spoke to Senior Editor Arthur J Pais.

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