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Rediff.com  » News » Mohammad Hanif wins first Shakti Bhatt award

Mohammad Hanif wins first Shakti Bhatt award

December 03, 2008 18:00 IST

What perplexes Pakistani writer Mohammad Hanif, who won the first Shakti Bhatt award beating Booker winner Aravind Adiga, is the unavailability of Indian books and magazines in his country when he is able to watch Bollywood blockbusters there.

Hanif, whose debut novel on Zia-ul-Haq's assassination -- A Case of Exploding Mangoes -- was chosen for the first Shakti Bhatt award, says same is the case in India also.

"If you can watch and enjoy Indian films in Pakistan then why not Indian books and magazines? If I can watch Indian movie Dostana in Karachi with my wife and children then why can't I read an Indian book or magazine," Hanif, the chief of BBC's Urdu service, told PTI.

"I also fail to understand if there are cultural exchanges between the two nations, then what is the problem in exchanging literature and magazines," the 43-year-old writer said.

Hanif was selected for the Rs one lakh Shakti Bhatt award, for which seven books including David Devadas' In Search of a Future: The Story of Kashmir, Amrita Patil's Kari and Sridala Swami's A Reluctant Survivor were in contention besides Adiga's The White Tiger.

About the satirical re-look on the plane crash in which Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq was killed, critics say that it is a "provocative, exuberant, wickedly clever work which re-imagines the conspiracies and coincidences leading to the mysterious 1988 plane crash".

Interestingly, Hanif could not find a publisher for his novel in Pakistan because of its content.

"Not a single Pakistani publisher was ready to publish my book, then I decided to publish it in India. Now, the book is available in Pakistan," Hanif said without elaborating.

Hanif, who was born in Okara in Pakistan, left the Pakistan Air Force to pursue a career in journalism.

He has written plays for the stage and the screen, including the critically acclaimed BBC drama and feature film The Long Night.

Debaprio D Choudhury in New Delhi
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