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Untold stories of an undiscovered India


On the third and last day of the Hyderabad Literary Fest, a panel discussion was held on ‘Stories of another India’.

Panelists included Abdullah Khan, Mumbai-based novelist, screenwriter and banker and Nilanjan Choudhury, author of ‘Bali and the Ocean of Milk’, ‘The Square Root of a Sonnet’ and many more. The discussion was moderated by Giridhar Rao.

The panelists were discussing their novels i.e Khan’s ‘Patna Blues’ and Choudhury’s ‘Shillong Times’

Khan spoke extensively about his childhood; of how he was brought up in a village and how his father gifted him his first storybook and how he admires George Orwell.

Then he described the story of his book: the book is based on the life of a middle class Muslim boy who is aiming to be an IAS officer so as to redeem his family’s image by getting a respectable job. The book is set during Patna of the 90s of Patna.

Choudhary then spoke about his book and how it is based on the 80s of Shillong, which was a simple world in itself, surrounded by natural beauty. In his book, Shillong is seen through the eyes of three teenagers.

Later, Choudhary read a chapter from his book ‘An Evening of Forbidden Pleasures’ and Khan read a part from his book that described the political situation in Patna in the 90s.

The authors then discussed about the common element of their novels i.e the differences between people and communities and how these differences may either connect or divide a person from another.

Khan and Choudhary fondly recalled their childhood and how they were looked at (strangely) because of their caste or ethnic groups, being called the ‘Shaitan Patan’ and ‘Dkhars’ respectively.

They ended the discussion by reading a passage from each of their books respectively to denote the differences amongst the people in Shillong and Patna.

Author: Aishwarya Johnson

Edited by: Beneath The Ink (

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