The Desi Buzz Editor & Publisher Dr.Tausif Malik spoke with Academician, Media personality, Mentor, Documentary Filmmaker, & Author Dhiraj Singh about his recently published book Master O. He has received several recognitions and was awarded ‘Man of Excellence Award-2021-22’ by INDIA ACHIEVER’S FORUM.
Please give a small intro about yourself for our readers.
Dhiraj Singh: I am an artist, writer, columnist, translator, TV media professional, and now a media educator. Most recently I have written a novel called ‘MASTER O’ that is set in the future and it explores some very deep and meaningful questions about human existence in the context of technology. In the past I have written a biography called of India’s first woman and Supreme Court lawyer art-gallerist, ‘Uma Jain: A Life In Two Lanes’. And before that a book of translated poems of Saumitra Saxena called ‘I Like To Wash My face With Sea Water’. I have also written short stories that have been published in ‘The Little Magazine’ and ‘The Punch Magazine’.
What inspired you to be a writer?
Dhiraj Singh: It is a gift to be able to connect the dots in your surroundings and be able to see a story in those connections. I think I’ve had that gift since I was very little. That’s also why I chose the career of a storyteller, the mediums may have been different like journalism, TV, art, and so on but the connecting tissue underneath them all was my gift of story-telling.
Tell us, what is your inspiration, or idea behind writing Master O?
Dhiraj Singh: The idea that we are not too far from a reality where all the artificial intelligence and the algorithms around us will start to affect us in very strange and unintended ways. The mutant elephants in ‘Master O’ are the sum of the artificial intelligence that we have amassed around us to feel powerful about time—because we are saving so much of it—yet ironically we are constantly playing catch-up and we have this never-ending FOMO. So in a sense my book is asking the question: do we really have a lot of time and control on our hands or is it all an illusion?
Why the Name Master O?
Dhiraj Singh: It was a process of trying to find a name that sat well with the character. I did go through a process of trying many different names but then Master O just jumped out at me because it contained his very essence. The ‘Master’ describes his mastery over some very powerful human traits the ‘O’ in my mind describes his vulnerabilities, how there are events that he has no control over.
What is Master O?
Dhiraj Singh: The idea for the book strangely came to me at the time of the police crackdown on Jamia University students and the attack on JNU students, AMU students and on various protest movements that were taking place against the Citizen Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. I was seeing a clear pattern emerge through those incidents and it was telling me that in order to control protest movements one had to give them a bad name. And once that was achieved any form of violence against them could be justified. Because people would say: they deserved it for being so unruly and so on. That’s how the idea of the Ibharis or the mutant elephants came to me… as these beings whose very existence was shaped by this power equation that gave a group of individuals a terribly unfair advantage over them. In ‘Master O’ the Ibharis eventually learn to turn the equation on its head in a very profound and unexpected way.
You talk about balancing the spiritual and scientific world, does it stem out of your thinking?
Dhiraj Singh:Yes absolutely. I strongly believe there are two sides of our existence: one is a side that yearns to understand our purpose in life and the other is looking for answers to more mundane everyday concerns. But as a writer I am interested in both these aspects equally. The spiritual life that looks at the larger philosophical aspects of life: the questions of cause and effect or karma as we call it and the parts that want to understand problem-solving, the nuts and bolts—a large part of which in our world today is technology that is always striving to make us more comfortable and with more free time. These two streams run parallel in our lives like two straight lines yet they are inseparable and so yes balance and integration is ideal but it is an ideal that is mostly out of reach. And that interests me a great deal as a writer.
Being a head of a renowned Institute, what is your experience, from being a Mass communication professional to an educator?
Dhiraj Singh: I am at a point now where I can be a bridge between the industry and academia with my vast and varied experience in the media of running a media start-up (Hunar TV) to heading the Parliament’s channel Lok Sabha TV (now Sansad TV) to being in news broadcasting (India Today TV) to the best in print with Times of India, Hindustan Times and Outlook magazine. The idea is to bring in excellence to media education especially now when the eco-system is changing at the speed of light.
The book looks like a super sci-fi thriller, and can be produced as a movie, any plans?
Dhiraj Singh: Yes, there has been interest from some quarters but it’s too early to say anything. As a writer I do believe it is a book that is very visual and takes these amazing leaps of imagination so I think it will definitely translate into a wonderful movie but it does need a director who is capable of doing that.
Readers can visit Mr. Dhiraj Singh’s website to know more about him https://www.dhiraj-singh.com/