Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Conversation with Anita Nair

Novelist Anita Nair was in town for a TED Talk on Sunday at the Taj Krishna and she also launched her new book 'Cut Like Wound' at Hyderabad at Oxford Bookstore last evening. After the release of the book by author Dilip D'Souza, who is also in town to deliver a TED talk, Anita and I discussed the book and a few other things.

To begin with I asked her how a new genre came about for her, she who is always experimenting with her writing anyway (she has written literary fiction, children's fiction, poetry, translation, screenplay etc). Anita said that the idea of a murder mystery revolving around a transvestite occurred to her when she saw one in Rome. She wrote out the scene, she said, and it grew from there. Then she placed this mystery novel in Bangalore's Shivaji Nagar where she remembers seeing a male prostitute, several years ago. And once the main character Borei Gowda fell in place, the book took off.

Dilip D'Souza releasing the book

To the question on how the characters came alive so well, were they real people etc, she said they were completely fictitious and not based on real life people. On the extensive research involved in the making of this book she explained how she watched a post mortem being performed, how she constructed the ingenious murder weapon and tried it on a pumpkin, how she visited police stations and met police men, how she visited Shivaji Nagar at  eleven in the night during Ramadan time (and how horrified her driver was when she did that) in detail. On the difficulty or ease of stepping into the mind of the killer who to me appeared completely unhinged and dangerous, Anita said that it was easy for her. She said that writers do that, except that unlike psychopaths who follow the impulse to really carry out the act, writers write about it and get done with it. On the new weapon used by the killer, one I have not encountered so far,  Anita said she wanted something new and interesting and not just a flick knife.  
Book released

Anita said she did not hold back at any stage in the novel, except perhaps the slightly restrained romance between Urmila and Borei, which she felt may develop in the sequel. When asked how she gets into the skin of her characters and expresses their needs so well, especially the darker emotions, she said she does not hold back once she starts writing, and does not think about being identified with she wrote. I said that this book has a larger scale than just being confined to a category called detective fiction. It is after all about homosexuality, eunuchs, corruption, the darkness that exists in our cities. Her next book is a historical fiction based in Kerala and she said she was enjoying writing it.
In conversation - me and Anita Nair

Several known and well known personalities were present, chiefly, Mohana Krishna Indraganti, the director of 'Golconda High School' and 'Ashta Chamma' among other films, Shankar Melkote of Little Theatre, mentor, guide, friend and much more, Dilip D' Souza, writer and speaker, Srinivas Avasarala, the hugely popular actor from 'Ashta Chamma' and other movies and an immensely talented screenplay writer now directing a film, my friends, CEOs, Suresh of Ybrant Digital, A.P. Srinivas and his lovely wife, Ramaraju of Gap Miners, Sanjay Reddy of Deep Sea Technologies, Achyut Menon of Options and his lovely daughter Vandana, Ranjani, writer and pharma expert and her talented writer daughter Aparna, Monica, CEO Xceptions, Geeta, architect, designer and entrepreneur, Vinod, humour writer, blogger and friend, Kiran, entrepreneur and friend, Bharadwaj from my MBA days and now with HDFC, Shanti, Sagar, Suryaprakash, Vandana from Bangalore, and from the family, Shobha and  Anjali. Thanks all for making it a fine evening.

Anita signed books, chatted with the audience for a while, and we ended the show.
Some more conversation
As always I do wonder at how casually such events are conducted by reputed bookstores. If they cannot market an event for an established author like Anita Nair, they have to think twice about their marketing set up. On one hand we talk of the retail revolution and professionalism and the desperation for footfalls and on the other, we see easily marketable events being let down duo to a shoddy job somewhere. A little more thought and effort and planning could make events like these far more effective for all concerned, could have more of book readers meet their favorite authors, better press, and make it a truly meaningful event instead. Instead it appears that everyone is going through the chores, sometimes not even that, and seem utterly unaffected by the appalling results they get. A decent job of marketing an event by someone like Anita Nair should fetch at least an audience of 50 to 100 walk ins. Add to that shoddy MCing, lack of the presence of press, and a completely clueless manner in which to go about with the event makes one wonder what everyone is upto. Come one guys, pull up your socks and get more professional.

Small details like ensuring regular readers are invited, ensuring that the information is spread around, that the  PR Agency has contacted the press, posting on social networking sites, having a professional MC, taking care of the small things would make such events far more enjoyable and add value for all parties concerned.

But despite all that I enjoyed myself, enjoyed talking to Anita who spoke so clearly, boldly and honestly about her book, her writing and her views. I also enjoyed meeting up with all my good friends and acquaintances at the launch and catching up with them. I also hope (and am reasonably certain) that Anita had a fairly good time at the event.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Hi Hari, thanks for this and I was glad to be there, though I really think I had no business "releasing" the book! It was yours and Anita's show, I should never have gatecrashed.

But I'm writing this really to say thanks for the point you made about the lackadaisical way Oxford ran the show, with the truly poor introduction. How difficult would it have been to do it well?

Harimohan said...

Hi Dilip, thanks for posting. It was good to have you add to the general good humour that prevailed that evening. That somehow made up for other irritants - minor and major. But glad that we met. Will keep in touch. Trust your talk went off well.