Don of satire and subtle humour

Dr Jas Kohli is amongst the few writers in the country to focus exclusively on humour. His published work includes three novels- ‘Anything to Look Hot’ (Srishti Publishers), ‘Lights! Scalpel! Romance!’ and ‘Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana!’ (both from Rupa Publications). Humour snippets posted by him on social media are quite popular. Interacting with Prof Shiv Sethi, the novelist unfolds his literary journey

Q. You are considered amongst the foremost humour writers of India and have been widely read. What is your take on it?
A. Obviously I feel fortunate to have earned the love and affection of the readers. And who doesn’t like recognition and appreciation! But my literary journey has been like a treacherous Himalayan trek. Writing humour is a serious job! It requires unwavering focus, long hours and renunciation of activities like binge watching of OTT shows and midnight visits to the ice cream parlour. But the rewards are worth the effort and one of them is the smile generated by reading one’s own humorous lines.

Q. You began writing in your forties. What was the trigger?
A. To be honest, it wasn’t an inner calling or a divine exhortation. In fact, it was a conscious decision to write- as a solution for my midlife crisis! However, the pre-requisite for being a writer was already there- I have been labelled a bookworm since I was a child. Also, I had accumulated lot of experiences in my topsy turvy life which made it easier to pen down humour.

Q. A doctor’s job is no joke. How do you infuse humour in your writings?
A. Since I am a laser cosmetic surgeon and an anti-ageing specialist, my so-called patients are not exactly sick and many of them have light-hearted conversations with me during the counselling sessions. Moreover, in our vast country, something or the other is happening on an almost daily basis and one can get lots of interesting inputs from the media. Friends and relatives with deviant behaviour provide ready-made material too! Of course, humour writing techniques like wordplay enable one to make the text crisper. To summarise- writing humour is a science as well as an art.

Q. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
A. The writers block is a notorious terrorist- every author is on its hit list! I too have been tormented by it. There is no fixed formula for getting over it but a break from writing often helps to break the jinx. Another way is to jot down the thoughts on a blank paper. By connecting them, there might be a breakthrough. I don’t believe that a glass of wine is the panacea for all ills concerning writing as is often thought of by the readers!

Q. How much of your fiction is based on true incidents?
A. A lot of it- Some from my own experiences and others from inputs given by friends and relatives. However, a tricky situation often arises when portraying a negative or laughable character which is based on a known person. I avoided gifting one of my fiction books to my a senior of mine because of the fear he would recognise that he was in it, of course with a different name. On the other hand, some of my friends wanted to be portrayed with their original names. However, I avoided that because they could have had a change of heart later on!

Q. Any message for the readers?
A. The modern life is so complex that some sort of stress is unavoidable. Humour is a great way to maintain our sanity. So read humour watch comedy shows and also make the strategic use of humour in conversations at home and at work. Whatever may be your destination in life, make the journey interesting. A note of caution- sarcasm can backfire if used for a touchy personality!

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