No Safe Zone : Interview with Adite Banerjie

Debraj Moulick

Why did you choose thriller as a backdrop of your novel ?

No Safe Zone began life as a thriller screenplay. However, after writing a few scenes, it was turning ‘too dark’. I didn’t quite like the way the story was flowing and I set it aside for a while. As deadline time for submitting my manuscript to the publisher was fast approaching, I decided to rework the script premise and give it a new spin. I did some more research on the topic of women’s trafficking and came across a news item about ‘baby bazars’. It made me realise what was missing in my story and how I could give it the ‘suspense’ angle that it was lacking and tie it in with the romantic story.

2.Don’t you think the plot could have easily sketched a major negative character ?
NSZ definitely has a cast of villainous characters and even during the writing I knew that I hadn’t done enough justice in bringing out their ‘evil-ness’. Normally, intrigue or suspense novels published by Harlequin are slightly longer (at about 60-70,000 words). However, in India, the publisher did not want a longer format and I was told to stick to 50,000 words and focus on the hero-heroine’s romantic travails. As a result, there wasn’t enough space to explore the villains in depth.
3.How much time did you devote for a bestselling novel like No Safe Zone?
The research and plotting of the book took more time than the actual writing of the book. Also once the first draft was done, I had to make sure that there were no plot holes and loose ends. So that meant going over the manuscript, along with the editor, multiple times and reworking it over and over again. All told, it took about eight to nine months to finish the manuscript.
4.If it gets a Hindi Movie adaptation, who is going to play the role of Qiara and the hotshot agent ?
I love this question. ☺ Deepika Padukone as the feisty Qiara would be ideal and who better than Hrithik Roshan with fire in his eyes and rippling muscles to be her on-screen beau? ☺
5.Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I am currently working on a romance novella and a screenplay simultaneously.

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<b><span style=”font-family: &quot;georgia&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif; font-size: large;”><br /></span></b> <span style=”font-family: &quot;georgia&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif; font-size: large;”><b>Blurb</b></span><br />

Qiara Rana will do anything to save her mentor and their non-government organization from ruin. Even if it means visiting the city she had vowed never to return to. But within a few hours of landing in New Delhi, she is being chased by a gunman and is a potential suspect in the murder of a high-profile businessman. 

The only person she can turn to for help is Kabir Shorey, the man who stood her up ten years ago. Past and present collide in a deadly plot of crime and greed that moves from the cosmopolitan streets of Delhi to the bazaars and villages of Rajasthan. 

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<b><span style=”font-size: large;”>Excerpt from #NSZ</span></b><br />

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Kabir couldn’t take his eyes off the game in progress. The sight of the polo players astride their horses, moving as a seamless entity, while steering the ball away from their opponents made him restless. He hadn’t ridden a horse or held a polo club in his hands for years. He had to use all his self-control to stop himself from rushing on to the field, pulling down one of the players and laying claim to his horse.

The memories came galloping back from the deepest recesses of his mind—Chetak with the brilliant white star in the middle of his forehead. What a dream team they had made. Chetak could anticipate his every move on the polo field even before he could think of it. They had never lost a game, making their perfectly matched combination the envy of every player in Rajasthan. If only they hadn’t been such a success on the polo turf…maybe things would have been different. Kabir’s heart burnt with longing and regret and the emotions bubbled within him like a dormant volcano beginning to stir up again.

Taking a deep, self-sustaining breath he raised his telephoto-lens equipped camera to his eyes, more to hide the dampness in his eyes. He focused on the spectators stand as he tried to reorient himself to his mission. He was here to get information on Ranveer Khanna, a known polo aficionado. It was the final day of the annual championships hosted by the Army Polo Club and Khanna was bound to show up.

Suddenly, two men appeared in the camera’s view finder. One of them was definitely Khanna while the other was a taller, stockily built man in his mid-twenties.

Kabir snapped a few pictures in quick succession. The younger man seemed to be agitated and was waving his finger threateningly at Khanna. He also didn’t quite fit the typical characteristics of a polo enthusiast. His attire was a little shabbier than what the other patrons of the club sported at such an elite affair. Perhaps, he was a chauffeur or a helper? His attitude though was far from servile. In fact, Khanna looked a trifle intimidated. After a couple of minutes, Khanna said something and turned to go inside the club.

Kabir took a few more random shots as he saw a waiter approach Khanna and say a few words to him.

Just at that moment Kabir’s cell phone beeped in his shirt pocket. It was Zayed—his new partner! Smirking at the thought, Kabir answered the call.

“Our man is here. Found out from the concierge, Khanna has recently acquired two stallions and is also a patron of a polo team in Argentina. It seems like he is either partnering with some other loaded investors or is a front for them.”

He waited to hear out Zayed’s response and swallowed the oath that sprang to his lips. “Zayed, if you already knew it, why you didn’t tell me?” Seconds later Kabir burst out, “Don’t give me that bullcrap. You and I are supposed to be on the same team, remember? If you had any doubts about my capabilities you should have spoken up at the meeting. If we have to work together, we share information, got it?”

Kabir felt his blood pressure rise up a notch as Zayed disgorged some more intel. Apparently, the NCA had informed him that Girls Rock! might be a money laundering front for Khanna.

“Someone from Girls Rock! is supposed to meet—hello? Are you there?”

Kabir cursed as he checked the screen of his phone to find the network signal had dropped. Moving away from the bleachers, he walked towards the club, trying to reach Zayed. He paced around a bit outside the entrance, waiting for the network signal to show up. Not even one blasted green light. He stormed into the club house in search of a landline phone. What else was Zayed not telling him? Clearly, Zayed’s reputation of not being a team player was quite accurate. It seemed like he needed to lay down some ground rules with his partner soon or else this investigation was doomed.

Scanning the lounge area, he spotted Khanna talking to a woman whose back was turned to him. After a few seconds, he saw her get up and follow Khanna out.

Kabir’s glance froze on the woman. She was petite, with the same china-doll-like figure, the same sexy gait, the same sway to her hips that made his heart pump harder. He raised the camera to his eyes, zooming in on her face to get a closer look but she was looking away. Nevertheless, he got a couple of shots before she disappeared down the corridor towards the inner sanctum of the club.

Was it her? Watching a polo match after all these years had sent his mind into throwback mode. He must be hallucinating! Get real, Kabir! 




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Adite Banerjie discovered the wonderful world of books at an early age which sparked her interest in writing. After a fulfilling and exciting career as a business journalist she turned her attention to fiction. Her latest book is a romantic-thriller No Safe Zone, published by Harper Collins India. She has penned two books for Mills & Boon (The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal and Trouble Has a New Name) and written several screenplays. When she is not grappling with her current work-in-progress, she enjoys spending time with her writer husband and watching back-to-back movies. 

Media Mentions:

Click Here to read the article in The Hindu Metroplus

Click Here to read a book review of No Safe Zone in Millennium Post

Click Here to read the article in The Big Thrill magazine





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Debraj Moulick Interview
  1. In original Mahabharat Ganesh was the writer, who is the writer over here in this retelling of Epic ?are you the great Ganesh ?

The writer here the protagonist NR as the entire story is being recalled by him while in coma. I am not sure about Ganesh , but NR is trying to be a Vyasa here.

  1. Don’t you think there have been innumerable retelling of the epic ?How your book is different from them ?

Where i feel my book is different is that I have stuck to the original as much as possible and the book is not just one character’s perspective. I have made an humble attempt to give scientific rational explanations to events described in these epics using concepts of physics, modern day technology as well as some of the practices followed in the software industry I am part of. I have also tried to explore further and explain some of the uncomfortable sections described in these epics like why did Rama ask Sita to undergo agnipariksha?  Why did Dronacharya ask Ekalavya his thumb as guru dakshina? I have also used some of the ideas from books like chariots of god and tv series like Ancient aliens.

  1. Don’t you think Mahabharat is just a way of promoting the greatness of Vishnu ?

I would beg to differ , perhaps Ramayana was promoting the greatness of Vishnu. The epic itself was named after Ram, it also talked about an utopian society called Ram Rajya etc. Whereas in Mahabharata, Vishnu as Krishna takes a backseat for the most part and allows other characters to express themselves. He is happy playing kingmaker and guiding the pandavas. He even takes a vow that he will not use any weapon in the great Mahabharata war and is content being the charioteer to Arjuna.

  1. Have you gone through Anand Neelkanthan’s Ajeya and Devdutt Pattanaik’s Jaya? What are your views about these books ?

I have read Jaya and Anand Neelkanthan’s Asura but not Ajeya and loved both these books. I consciously decided not to read any myth-fiction books related to Mahabharata while I was writing my book so I don’t get influenced by them in any way.
5.In tv series like Ancient Aliens, Krishna have been projected as an Alien from an advanced planet ? Plz comment

As I have mentioned in the acknowledgement section in the book Ancient aliens was one of my inspirations while writing this book apart from the book chariots of god. If Krishna happens to be the paramatma herself (J) whether him being alien or not is immaterial!

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“The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here. 


As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. 

Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?”


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Karthik K.B. Rao


Karthik Rao is a 32-year-old software professional based in Bangalore. He lives with his wife Sushma, parents and two little sons Kaustubh Krishna and Raghav Krishna aged 4 and 1, respectively. He says, he gets to meditate close to 3 hours every day on his bike thanks to the notorious Bangalore traffic. His hobbies include following cricket, Indian politics on the social media and Indian mythology. He also plays plastic ball cricket with his sons.

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Interview with Sundari Venkatraman

  1. Your book deals with Extramarital affairs, do you think Indian Society is ready to accept this practice?

In any society, there are people who are evolved and those that think regressively. I don’t think extramarital affairs are a new fad. They have always been happening since time immemorial and will continue to happen in the future. So, there’s no question of the Indian society being ready to accept it. Whether we accept or not is not the criterion extramarital affairs are based on, they happen anyway.

There was a time when polyandry (read Draupadi & the Pandavas) and polygamy were part of our culture. Please note that I am not saying that they were considered legal – only because there was no law regarding this in those days. It was way later that the Hindu law was passed (in 1956 I think) against polygamy.

Do understand that I am neither for nor against the practice. It’s a way of life for some. Who am I to judge?

  1. One of the characters (who is an author) hires a person to do the background research for his writing…according to you, how important is background research to you as a novelist?

It’s very important. As long as the story flows well with circumstances that we are familiar with in our day-to-day activities, it’s fine. But take a situation like Clinical Depression – the ailment suffered by Anjali – I did a lot of research on the internet. I also had firsthand knowledge since my mother suffered from Dementia. I had had a long talk with her psychiatrist regarding the same.

I consulted a lawyer regarding criminal law in our country. Reading Perry Mason and other western novels, it’s easier to know the laws ruling USA. But the scenario in India could be very different. I spoke to my lawyer neighbour and he also gave me a tome on Indian criminal law with pages marked to study.

Well, I didn’t use much of the information, even though I did study it. For one, I didn’t want my story to sound like a text book. For another, I needed that background information to make sure that I didn’t say something totally wrong.

  1. You have been dealing with clean-shot romantic novels and mythological stories for quite sometime…why did you shift to a bold…erotic, romantic thriller?

Good question. Yeah, I have written five novels in the romance genre, with many short stories as well and then exploring mythology – I need to yet publish a book in this genre. I am toying with the idea of coming up with short stories from Indian mythology in the near future. Only one mytho short story of mine has been published. Love match for Velan is the one from my anthology MMIH.

That aside, a writer also needs to evolve just as everyone else. Otherwise, she tends to become repetitive and stale. I have touched the thriller element in The Malhotra Bride (a gunshot sequence) and Meghna (a plane hijack). In An Autograph for Anjali, I have taken a further step in introducing murder.

As to the story being erotic, I think all my books have explicit sex scenes.

  1. Tell me how much time do you need to complete a full-fledged novel?

Six weeks, if I write 5-6 days a week.

  1. Any suggestion for the authors who are facing creative blockage?

It could be two ways. Some undergo creative block when they keep procrastinating, planning, checking out the rules of writing, repeatedly editing what’s already written. There’s no recovering from this as it’s a created problem. If you have a story to tell, just go ahead and write it, exactly the way it flows. Chuck the rules and editing out of the window and complete the first draft. The only way to get the work done is not to block creativity in the above said ways. This happens to me on and off. Once I am aware that I am getting distracted, I just shut everything out and get down to writing.

Other times, a creative block happens in the middle of the novel, an attack out of the blue. I find the best way to deal with it is to switch off from writing completely for 2-3 days or until I am all set to write again. I prefer to watch films, read books or even TV serials during such times, mainly to avoid thinking about my story. This way, I get a fresh outlook when I get back to work.

  1. If your novel gets a Hindi movie adaptation…who will be the director… and the actors portraying Anjali…Jayant…their son…Seema and lastly Parth?

Director: Meghna Gulzar
Anjali: Kareena Kapoor
Jayant: Boman Irani
Arjun: Ranbir Kapoor (well, we need to make him look younger with the right make-up)
Seema: Aditi Rao Hydari
Parth: Akshay Kumar

I am not too familiar with names of directors, so didn’t have much of a choice 😛
I thought of Meghna Gulzar as I felt she deals with bold subjects and will also do well with the multiple viewpoints angle since she directed Talvar.

Do mention who you think will be ideal for the above roles.
I will go with you for Meghna Gulzar as the director.Now for the actors,here is my list.
Choice Of Debraj
Anjali : Tabu ( rich and Lonely Housewife)
Jayant : Anil Kapoor ( Proud of being a self made man,he did the same kind of role in Dil Dhadak Ne Do)
Arjun : Rajat Barmecha ( the protagonist of Udaan )
Seema : Chitrangada Singh ( Look at her seductive acting )
Parth : This role needs maturity and a Greek God looks- Arjun Rampal

Thank you so much Debraj for such awesome questions. I so enjoyed answering them 😀

Sundari Venkatraman

Jayant Mathur is found murdered in his bed, shot at point-blank range with his own revolver. Though she’s extremely disturbed by his death, Jayant’s wife Anjali is way more upset about something else. Who stands to gain by killing the multi-millionaire businessman?
Parth Bhardwaj is a friend and neighbour of the Mathurs. Parth is an author who goes by a pseudonym. He appears more than a friend to Anjali; while he’s also on good terms with her son Arjun who lives and studies in the UK. What role does he play in Anjali’s life? Jayant’s relatives are curious to know.
Jayant’s brother-in-law Rana is convinced that Parth and Anjali are the murderers. But Inspector Phadke has his own doubts about this theory. In comes Samrat, the private detective who appears as quiet as a mouse. Will he be able to find the murderer?
Will Anjali find happiness and peace?

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In 2014, Sundari self-published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories).
2015 brought yet another opportunity. Readomania came forward to traditionally publish this book – The Madras Affair – a mature romance set in Madras.
An Autograph for Anjali, a romance with a touch of suspense, is also a self-published novel. Going a step further, the author has published the paperback version through Notion Press.

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