T r e a d Softly... YOU MIGHT TRIP ON TEXT

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Passion at MIDNIGHT!

Anu & Mike--- or should we say "Usha" & "Hari"
in Midnight Hotel

The KERALA launch

Much Time To Sit & Stare....

Anita Nair, Shinie Antony, Jayanth Kodkani & me. Hormis
Tharakan sat extreme left.
The idea of Lament of Mohini started when I was---what?--- 14 years.

And then it changed and spurted and cantered, and became a book in 2000. The play Midnight Hotel was ready about six years before it saw the stage. Maria's Room began when I was on vacation in Goa after the various launches of Mohini. Harper Collins will bring it out in November 2009. Nearly a decade later.

What I'm trying to say is, give me time and wasted opportunities, and my work (novel or play) can go on and on. Would that be the ideal of every author? An ever-growing work? I can imagine an artist stuck to his canvas for years, changing and adding and removing, yearning for a state of perfection.
You then live with your characters and what they're doing, and you're comfortable with that because the novel/ play has become another home. When it is finally closed and the reader/ audience takes over, then you have lost your home because other residents have come in and they're free to comment, criticize, praise, and what they have isn't completely yours any longer. The delight of being published/ staged is an aphrodisiac. The feeling that your work is still yours is contentment.

So which is the better bet?!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

the state of things...

It's that time when creativity is being burdened by the effects of creativity.
My children's book was "published" on August 15. That's it. It's more than ten days later. I haven't heard anything after that. I'm wondering whether this too will pass like the previous one without any readings or launches, courtesy the publisher. I remember being asked during a TV interview years ago whether I'd be up to the task of promoting my own book, networking and getting things moving. And I said, it's a pity the writer can't just sit and write; that he has to be market-savvy and pushy as well. My ideal life would be to live in a big old house in some isolated place (peferably by the sea) and venture out only to watch my own plays or for readings. The rest is writing....

My son has come up with a cover for my next novel due November. Great stuff. Son really shines. Pity we have to wait for two months to see it officially.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I've been hearing a lot about social commitment and being honest about what you write and about bringing the actual state of the world into your page. I've watched a film on a writer, listened to various audience comments during a book reading and generally soaked in this commitment ambience this last week. If you're honest to your work or concept, won't that do?

There are writers and writers. There are stories and stories. Wouldn't it be more dishonest to drag in a feeling you don't feel but feel it should represent you because of what others feel?!

I see the world. It will come out in my writing. I don't think I should struggle to bring it out. If I feel strongly about something, that will definitely come out. In one way or the other. In one or more genres that I write in. Let's see, I do novels, plays, short stories, essays, the odd column, poetry; what else? I will express my thoughts about the world somewhere. So, readers, thanks for reading, and for the ideas, the writing is my side of the bargain.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ninth & Tenth

Friday and Saturday saw the ninth and tenth shows of Midnight Hotel. The director has already told me he feels the play has done its bit in Chennai, and may not have an audience after this. There was a Kochi show scheduled for August 30 that was cancelled because of some sponsorship issue. I was looking forward to having the play in Kerala. Maybe it will happen one day. Anyway, ten shows in Chennai and Bangalore's good enough, and except for the last two, all shows played to full houses.

There's a Twitter entry from Kyra: one of their waiters jumped into the arms of the barman during an especially scary moment in the play! These are moments that make life worth living!

You write a play, and somehow it works. Director Mithran realised the nuances, and he's also a magician with lighting, design and sound. The cast was the best. And the backstage crew was excellent most of the time. Like I said, somehow, sometimes, it works. I wanted a play where wit was a major element, and it seems to have worked most of the time. The ninth show wasn't such a big success, both cast (in the beginning, anyway) and audience were out of energy. The next night made up for it. The audience was fantastic. I don't think my laugh-lines did so much during any of the previous shows. It was a fitting finale! And the cast and crew rose magnificently to the occasion. There were speeches earlier, this being a fund-raiser for CMC Vellore's patient programme. Both days the director held on to the mike, but I couldn't resist almost grabbing the mike from him after the play the second day and saying: "This is is the night of August 15th, and here we have Midnight's Children!" It was an uncontrollable urge, and I gave in!

Dr Binayak Sen, the human rights activist, was chief guest both nights, and he told me he enjoyed the play. He too must have seen the difference on the 2nd day. We had dinner at Mithran's house where there was a small discussion about what he'd been doing, his arrest and thereafter. Also, a bit of an ideology debate with Mike and Anu, the lead pair, and Dr Sen. Was this progress vs. human rights? Or was even the "progress" open to question? What was the role of the Maoists? But it was a dining-table discussion, not the debate the subject deserved.

Sunday afternoon, there was R. V. Ramani's film on Tamil writer Sundara Ramaswamy. Very interesting, because Ramani casts his net wide and catches other fish too. So there's an ambience that reaches outwards from Su Ra. Personally, I felt there could have been tighter editing at some places, but I enjoyed the leisurely feel nevertheless. I would have discussed it with Ramani if there was time. I liked the strand with the Brahmin-nonBrahmin debate. In many cases nowadays, there's too much discussion about differences and divisions instead of addressing the immediate problem. And the discussions continue, becoming more and more heated and alienating all parties, and the problems continue to grow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Magic Store Of Nu-Cham-Vu

He's finally here!

You'd probably find him in the stores right now. Nu-Cham-Vu, the greedy little creature from Anchan Bay is here at last. And recommended by no less than the redoubtable Ruskin Bond himself.

The book is called The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu, and it's from Puffin.

The age group is a bit wide, from 9 to 175 years. So, you see, few kids are left out. The exciting thing for me is, my son Vinayak has done the illustrations and those who've seen the cover picture are raving about it.
"A long time ago, when the moon was still green and the sky had just recovered from a severe case of rainbow measles, there was a children's store on Ju-Juicy Street. It had a glass window upfront, with a large pair of eyes painted on it that blinked heavily during the rains. A tiny little waterfall flowed down the windowpanes. It sold things you and I know nothing about."

That's how the book begins.

It's interesting how this book took off. When I was in Scotland on the Charles Wallace fellowship, my friend had asked me to write a story for children. And I did, sitting at my desk in my office in the Dept of English in Pathfoot building at Stirling University. It was a little tale, and told of strange people with funny names. Including a monster named Nu-Cham-Vu. He was, if I may say so, the hero. And villain. But, alas, no one came to take Nu-Cham-Vu off my hands. I can understand. He's that sort of a fellow. Years later, when my friend joined another publishing house, she asked me for "that story you wrote, remember?" Of course I remembered! I sent it to her. Her colleague and another friend of mine asked me if I could alter the story to suit even younger children. I was reluctant to do so, so they left it at that.

This time I didn't want Nu-Cham-Vu to sit around moping. A moping Nu is a dangerous thing. I sent him off to my editor friend in Puffin. She submitted it to the editorial group and they said: why not make it a book, a bigger story? Aaahh! I did!

And then came Vinayak's "stunning illustrations", as the blurb says.

It's publishing date was Independence Day, August 15.

I hope it's reached the bookshops by now.

The Nu book for children.