I have often asked myself this question.
Was it a desire to step out of the ‘shadows’ into a vibrant, ‘colourful’ milieu? To break free from the despondency of ‘death’ and savour the frenzy of ‘passion’? Maybe. Or, maybe not.
Because, when you are hurtling down the murky path of crime, it probably does not matter whether it is broad daylight or there are shadows looming large. It is the greed, the insecurity, and the hurt of a tormented soul that is at the root of all evils since time immemorial. That does not change even as stories change.
I, of course, wanted to talk about ‘passion’. In my story, I talk about our passion for our work, our craft. I talk about the almost oppressive desire to excel in what we do, which keeps us awake through nights. And how that passion often makes us blind to our sense of propriety. And then, there is the passion one feels for another human being. It can have a variety of shades – some we are ‘comfortable’ with, some which do not conform to societal definitions and are readily dismissed or looked down upon. But, they are all-consuming, nevertheless. And have the power to change lives and the society as we know it.
A story for me is also a vehicle to talk about issues that matter to me. In my first novel, I spoke about several topics that are usually considered ‘taboo’ and are best pushed under dusty carpets. I talked about the sexual harassment of the male child in the supposedly secure confines of home. I talked about the politics of sexual exploitation and sexual favours, as well as the ‘reverse’ sexual harassment of men, at the workplace. I painted a stark picture of adultery and infidelity rampant in the modern urban society with changing ways of life and tried to find plausible causes without being judgemental. I was sceptical about the reaction of my readers. Within a few weeks of the release of the book, my confidence in the maturity of Indian readers was validated. And I was encouraged to take up in this novel issues that continue to fuel debates across the nation. I am looking forward to what readers and critics have to say about the story that lies at the core of ‘The Colours of Passion’.
Finally, I wanted to paint Kolkata in all its glorious inconsistencies. In my first novel, readers loved the way I brought out that inconsistency along one stretch of the city at Park Street. Here, I explore the city more.
The backdrop of the story ends up being an eclectic collage.
We have the moneyed upper class and the upwardly mobile middle class with its new-found avenues of prosperity that make the city a natural destination for global brands and plush real estate. We have shopping malls which are among the best in Asia, residential apartments which literally kiss the sky, nightlife which is among the best in the country, and a glamour industry which is getting its due attention in the national and international arena.
We also have the squalor of slums that are now home to the burgeoning mafia – smugglers, contract killers – and their unholy nexus with politicians and industrialists.
Yet, the ‘bright morning sun reflects from the steeple of St. Paul’s Cathedral’, ‘holidaying crowds make a beeline for the decked-up horse carriages for a ride by the Maidan and the Fort William grounds’, and the ‘autumn mist still hangs on the vast expanse of the Maidan’ and come autumn, ‘the city erupts with festivities, when happy faces beam all around and laughter echoes in the autumn air, when crowds throng streets awash with lights’.
My Kolkata is a living, breathing character in ‘The Colours of Passion’. She had to be introduced in all her glory – warts and all notwithstanding – to the world, all over again.
'The Colours of Passion' can be ordered at: https://www.amazon.in/Colours-Passion-Unravelling-Secrets-Limelight/dp/9385854453
(Re-published from my Readomania blog: http://www.readomania.com/author-speak-view/thestoryteller,148)