Decoding Criminal Minds With India’s Celebrated Crime Writers


“Every person has an author hidden within him or her. We should unleash and discover the person within us,” said famed crime journalist turned author Hussain Zaidi. The author was recently in town co-hosting a discussion on ‘Decoding Criminal Minds’ by Penguin Blue Salt with Milee Ashwarya.

Pune365 was there to bring our readers a candid conversation with crime journalists and authors Jyoti Shelar, Sharmeen Hakim, Vibha Singh and young Bilal Siddiqi.

As the panel began to narrate their interesting experiences of writing books on crime, they spoke of interviewing some of the most dreaded criminals we know of. “Going out of my city and writing about the underworld in another city was a challenge,” says Jyoti Shelar who penned The Bhais of Bengaluru.

“The Bangalore underworld was not as known as that of Mumbai. I tried to trace the history and some events that in turn, helped transform the local criminals into the underworld mafia.

Sharmeen Hakim nods in agreement adding, “Nobody had written a book about the train blasts in Mumbai before.” The writer who authored Six Minutes of Terror with Nazia Sayed expressed how the book was a huge challenge. “Well, the advantage was that we had covered the incidents on that day as journalists, so could relate to it.

“It was important that we wrote of it as the city that never stops, suddenly came to a standstill and the networks were jammed,” she adds.

“Life is often stranger than fiction in a lot of ways,” quips Singh in reference to her book The Convenient Culprit. She speaks of the challenges of writing a murder drama.

“You see, fiction is inspired by the happenings around you. Once you start asking a lot of questions facts and fiction start to match up.

As the conversation turns to the challenges of penning down a crime drama and bestseller, Shelar explains, “As a journalist you need to file your stories first and then burn the midnight oil and work hard for your book. Once you start reporting on crime you start to shed your fear which is what helps you interview even dreaded criminals.

Singh concurs adding, “Everyone has a favourite author, but with every experience we grow out of that. So I always concentrate on good content as every author doesn’t always deliver. A good writer should always read a lot.”

A published author of three books at 23, Siddiqi shares his experience of authoring The Kiss of Life for Emraan Hashmi. The book talks about the actor’s son’s struggle with Cancer. “I first thought it would be difficult, but Emraan himself used to write large part of the story. However stepping in the shoes of a famous star and a father to write the book was a quite a test.” Zaidi, applauds his protégé’s dedication declaring, “Unless your prodigy makes you feel insecure, you won’t be successful and looking at Bilal I feel the same.”​


Aditi Balsaver

Aditi Balsaver

A rapacious reader and animal lover, Aditi is a traveler on weekends and a writer at night..
Aditi Balsaver