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Farrukh Dhondy

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Farrukh Dhondy
Born1944 (1944) (age 80)
Poona, India
EducationThe Bishop's School; University of Poona; Pembroke College, Cambridge; University of Leicester
Occupation(s)Writer, playwright, screenwriter, activist
SpouseMala Sen (m. 1968; div. 1976)

Farrukh Dhondy (born 1944) is an Indian-born British writer, playwright, screenwriter and left-wing activist who resides in the United Kingdom.


Dhondy was born in 1944 in Poona, India, where he attended The Bishop's School, and obtained a BSc degree from the University of Poona (1964).[1] He won a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences before switching to English, earning a BA degree in 1967.[citation needed] After graduating he studied for a master's degree at Leicester University and was later a lecturer at Leicester College of Further Education and Archbishop Temples School, Lambeth, London.[2]

Early activism[edit]

In Leicester, Dhondy became involved with the Indian Workers' Association and later, in London, with the British Black Panthers, joining the publication Race Today in 1970, along with his close friend Darcus Howe, and former partner Mala Sen,[3] and discovering his calling as a writer.[4]


Dhondy's literary output is extensive, including books for children, textbooks and biographies, as well as plays for theatre and scripts for film and television.[5] He is also a columnist,[6][7][8] a biographer (of C. L. R. James; 2001),[9] and media executive, having been Commissioning Editor at Channel Four television from 1984 to 1997. During his time with Channel Four, he wrote the comedy series Tandoori Nights (1985–87) for the channel, which concerned the rivalry of two curry-house owners.

His children's stories include KBW (Keep Britain White), a study of a young white boy's response to anti-Bengali racism. In 2011 Dhondy published his translation of selections from the Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi, Rumi: a New Translation. Dhondy also wrote the screenplay for the 2005 Bollywood historical blockbuster Mangal Pandey: The Rising, starring Aamir Khan and Toby Stephens. In 2012, Dhondy scripted a short film called The K File. This film dealt with a fictional take on the judgement of Ajmal Kasab and was directed by Oorvazi Irani. In 2013, Dhondy's play Devdas was premiered in London and was subsequently replayed globally. 2013 also saw the publication of his novel Prophet Of Love (HarperCollins). His collection of Rumi translations was published in 2014 and received a 4.5-star rating on Goodreads.[10]

Dhondy was lauded in the respected political magazine New Internationalist, in its prestigious "final page", which led to the resurgence of his lifelong campaign to recruit more BAME talent at the BBC, with an article subsequently printed in the New Statesman[11] (covered in The Voice newspaper).[12]

His latest book, Hawk and Hyena, follows the story of Charles Sobhraj. Dhondy appeared on the podcast The Literary City[13] with Ramjee Chandran to talk about his escapades with Charles Sobhraj as well as about his autobiography, Fragments Against My Ruin: A Life.[14] Dhondy was at the 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival, London edition to talk about his books.

Honours and awards[edit]


  • East End at Your Feet (short stories), London: Macmillan Publishers, 1976.
  • Come to Mecca, and Other Stories, London: Collins, 1978.
  • The Siege of Babylon (novel), London: Macmillan, 1978.
  • Poona Company (short stories), London: Gollancz, 1980.
  • Trip Trap (short stories), Faber and Faber (London, England), 1985.
  • Vigilantes, Hobo Press, 1988
  • Bombay Duck (adult novel), London: Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1990.
  • Black Swan, Gollancz (London, England), 1992, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993.
  • Janacky and the Giant, and Other Stories, London: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • C. L. R. James: Cricket, The Caribbean and World Revolution, 205pp, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001.
  • The Bikini Murders, based on the life of Charles Shobhraj (also known as "the Bikini Killer"), 2008. Currently in production as a feature film.
  • Rumi: A New Translation (trans. & ed.), Harper Perennial, 2011
  • Prophet Of Love, HarperCollins, 2013
  • Fragments Against My Ruin: A Life (autobiography), 2021


  • Mama Dragon, produced in London, England, 1980.
  • Trojans (adaptation of a play by Euripides), produced in London, England, 1982.
  • Kipling Sahib, produced in London, England, 1982.
  • Vigilantes (produced in 1985), Hobo Press, 1988.
  • King of the Ghetto (television series), British Broadcasting Company (BBC1), 1986.
  • Split Wide Open (screenplay; based on the story by Dev Benegal), Adlabs/BMG Crescendo, 1999.
  • Devdas, premiered in London, 2013.

See also[edit]

  • Bandit Queen, 1994 film based on late wife Mala Sen's book India's Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi (1993)
  • Red Mercury (2005)
  • The Interview (2021 film)
  • Dennis, Ferdinand; Khan, Naseem, eds. (2000). Voices of the Crossing. London: Serpent's Tail. pp. 163–174. ISBN 9781852425838.


  1. ^ "Farrukh Dhondy". British Council | Literature. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  2. ^ Triggs, Pat (September 1980). "Authorgraph No.4 - Farrukh Dhondy". Books for Keeps.
  3. ^ Kotak, Ash (13 June 2011). "Mala Sen obituary". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Donnell, Alison (2002). Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-415-16989-9. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Farrukh Dhondy". IMDb.
  6. ^ Dhondy, Farrukh (27 November 2010). "The Bards of Britain". The Deccan Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  7. ^ Dhondy, Farrukh (23 December 2015). "Our Islamic Fifth Column". City Journal.
  8. ^ Dhondy, Farrukh (16 June 2018). "Persians & the Islamic state of Iran". The Asian Age. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Kenan Malik's review of CLR James by Farrukh Dhondy". New Statesman. 30 July 2001.
  10. ^ "Rumi: A New Translation". Goodreads.
  11. ^ Dhondy, Farrukh (18 March 2014). "Is the BBC still 'hideously white'?". New Statesman.
  12. ^ Shah, Subi (22 March 2014). "'Multiculturalism On TV Has Been Hijacked'". The Voice.
  13. ^ "Untold Intrigues Of Charles Sobhraj And Fragments of Farrukh Dhondy", The Literary City, July 2022.
  14. ^ Dhondy, Farrukh, Fragments Against My Ruin: A Life, Goodreads.

External links[edit]