If there is one place where you will find Hindi pulp fiction, it’s the railway stations in India. Titles like Khooni Chattan (Bloody Rock), Kaatil Ho Toh Aisa (A Murderer Like Him), Bahu Maange Insaaf (Daughter-in-law Seeks Justice) and Singha Murder Case populate bookstalls all over the railway stations. Hindi pulp fiction is as vastly spread in the Hindi-speaking hinterlands of India as is the Indian railways.
In their heyday, such titles used to be bestsellers, with each novel selling over 1,00,000 copies. But since the liberalization of the Indian economy, fewer people read pulp fiction than before.
Here we introduce you to 5 such writers of Hindi pulp fiction who used to dominate Indian publishing market:
1. Ved Prakash Sharma
If you became a fan of Akshay Kumar after watching his action-packed Khiladi movies, it was because of Ved Prakash Sharma on whose books the movies were based on. He also wrote the screenplay of International Khiladi.
Sharma started ghostwriting and it was only after he had penned 23 novels that he got credit as a writer for the novel Dahekte Shaher in the year 1973. He was known for writing detective and investigative novels which would feature lead characters on the lines of Sherlock Holmes who would solve peculiar criminal cases. In his career spanning over 40 years, he wrote around 176 novels as well as many Bollywood screenplays. Some of his record-breaking novels include Qaidi No 100, Vardi Wala Gunda and Bahu Maange Insaaf, the latter was made into a 1985 Bollywood film.
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2. Surender Mohan Pathak
A diamond merchant takes on India’s most powerful men. A man tries to save his friend before he gets murdered himself. A serial killer disposes of bodies in tandoors. These are the plots of Surender Mohan Pathak’s novels — crime capers with high-octane chases, murder mysteries with sex scandals and revenge stories bathed in violence.
Pathak started writing novels on the weekends while he struggled as a mechanic. With money being tight, writing came both as a solace and as a source of extra income. Over the course of 50 years, he penned over 300 bestsellers with 40,000 copies being sold of each of his books. Even now, at the age of 78, he writes 3-4 novels each year.
3. Om Prakash Sharma
Author of around 450 Hindi detective novels, Sharma’s style was influenced by Sarat Chandra Chatterji’s writings. After publishing hundreds of novels, he established his own publishing house — Janpriya Prakashan — following which he started being recognized as Janpriya Lekhak Om Prakash Sharma.
One of his novels — Dhadkan — was adapted into a 1986 Bollywood film titles Chameli Ki Shaadi starring Anil Kapoor.
4. SC Bedi
SC Bedi was known for writing a series of novels on Desi investigator duo called Ranjan-Iqbal, which had very Hitchcockian plots with titles like Rajan Iqbal aur Preton ka Aatank. Interestingly, on the last page of each of these novels, the photo of SC Bedi was different and each claimed to be the real SC Bedi. The short novels had comic treatment, with the gangster duo being friends with each other due to their common love for omelettes.
5. Gulshan Nanda
Nominated for six Filmfare Awards, many of Nanda’s novels were adapted into films. The subject of his novels ranged from social issues of the 1970s and 80s to racy thrillers.