GROUNDED, BUT STILL FLOAT­ING

India Today - - LEISURE -

Ac­tor, direc­tor and writer Jayant Kri­palani is best loved for his roles in TV se­ries’ such as Mr Ya Mrs, Ji Mantri Ji and Khaan­daan. He has ap­peared in films such as 3 Id­iots and Hawaiza­ade, and is the au­thor of New Mar­ket Tales (NMT) and the re­cent Can­tilevered Tales ( )

Can­tilevered Tales is a rather de­cep­tive ti­tle for a novel...

Why is it de­cep­tive? A can­tilever is a girder that is fixed only on one side. My char­ac­ters are like that. Grounded on one end, float­ing at the other, all slightly flaky. In fact, I deeply re­sent the use of the term ‘de­cep­tive’. Plus, Howrah Bridge is a can­tilevered bridge and is it­self a char­ac­ter in the book. These are short sto­ries which be­came a large story purely by hap­pen­stance. But I would hes­i­tate to call the book a novel.

Un­like NMT, CT, de­spite its light tone, has dark­ness one usu­ally doesn’t as­so­ciate with your writ­ing. Any spe­cial rea­son be­hind it?

Look around you. For the last few years we’ve been liv­ing in a hell that we made for our­selves. I’m sur­prised the writ­ing wasn’t darker than it is.

How much of your pro­tag­o­nist’s de­scrip­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences of Tirthan are au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal?

I am as fa­mil­iar with Tirthan as I am with Kolkata. So nat­u­rally my ex­pe­ri­ences in Tirthan are go­ing to creep in to my story telling. Khokon Lahiri, how­ever, is just some­one I met on a bus, liked, re­searched and made my friend and then my pro­tag­o­nist.

There might be a minute por­tion of me in Khokon but he is far too mild for me to want to be him.

Some­times your char­ac­ters eclipse the plot. What do they mean to you?

I love them. I love ev­ery kink, ev­ery foible, ev­ery ec­cen­tric mol­e­cule that makes them. Even a mi­nor char­ac­ter like Hothka, the over­weight, spit-spray­ing Min­is­ter for Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment who I can’t stand, is very dear to me. All of them are crea­tures of cir­cum­stance; they can’t re­ally help who they are and have al­ways been far more im­por­tant to me than the plot.

How is writ­ing a book dif­fer­ent from writ­ing for TV/ films?

While writ­ing for TV and film you can gloss over the de­tails. For ex­am­ple I can write: ‘Ex­te­rior. Day. Writer’s Build­ing, Cal­cutta’. The direc­tor knows what he has to do. In a book I’d have to de­scribe in much greater de­tail what I want you to see.

Who are your favourite con­tem­po­rary au­thors? Your in­flu­ences?

I haven’t read much in the re­cent past. I’ve watched a lot of films and tele­vi­sion sto­ries from all around the world, so writ­ers and their in­flu­ences on me are non-ex­is­tent at the mo­ment. Old films by Guru Dutt. Pyaasa blew me away again. Shyam Bene­gal. Mandi is way ahead of its time. Ya­tra and Bharat Ek Khoj—TV shows that should be shown on ev­ery chan­nel as news

and cur­rent af­fairs.

Which present-day novel would you like to adapt for a film and what char­ac­ter would you like to play?

Naseer in Naseerud­din Shah’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. —with Divya Dubey

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