Skip to main content

Kolkata: The anatomy of a city in Agni Mitra thrillers


The first Agni Mitra thriller ‘In the Shadows of Death’ (https://goo.gl/ajgKLn) starts with a portrayal of Park Street on a rainy evening, which goes as below: 

“Those who had run for cover under the shades included men and women who had been working late in the many offices in the neighbourhood, street children who would otherwise flock around foreigners staying in one of the plush hotels in the area, pimps who carried albums loaded with pictures of call-girls and would get in the way of men roaming around alone in Park Street, and hookers who roamed the streets or waited patiently for hours on end in desolate corners of the roads or in the bus stops in their loud make-up and hopeful eyes, waiting to be picked up and driven to cheap hotels around the place. The incongruous mix of people who stood next to each other, skin to skin, in the bus stops or under the ledges of the showrooms of global brands that lined the road, made Agni smile to himself every time he crossed them. That one stretch of road had something for everyone in the city – the movers and the shakers, and those resigned to the gutters.” 

This picture of the throbbing heart of the city contrasts sharply with the serenity of the Ganga at the Princep Ghat in another section of the novel: 

“The Ganga stretched below us on both sides, the gloom of the sky reflected in its black waters. The riverfront stretched behind around Princep Ghat. The trident lights, landscaped gardens, fountains, street food and a quiet boat ride away from the din of the city – the perfect getaway. 

Every city has one, I guess. After all, you do need a place to hide when everything and everyone around you seems alien. 

I hit the Kona Expressway which connects the city with National Highways 2 and 6 leading to Delhi and Mumbai. The concrete around me gave way to the green, and the bumps and potholes underneath vanished. I stopped at the Toll Plaza briefly and then drove straight. The empty road stretching to the horizon like smooth black silk beckoned me…” 

When the reviews started coming in, I realized that in addition to the plot and the characterizations, my portrayal of Kolkata has touched a chord with readers. Some of them even wanted me to explore the city more in my next story!

While writing ‘The Colours of Passion’ (https://goo.gl/cnY38Z), I did exactly that! 

Thus, the backdrop of the story ends up being an eclectic collage.

While writing this novel, what I realized is that, in the ‘new’ Kolkata, 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 (the 'Atmosphere' towers on the E. M. Bypass with its skywalk 'Deya' finds a mention in the novel), 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 like Tiljala 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’. 

Kolkata comes alive in the pages of 'The Colours of Passion' as Agni traverses the city in hot pursuit of a murderer responsible for the brutal rape and murder of Tolly heart-throb Hiya Sen, followed by two more murders.

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.

(Note: Quoted lines are from the works of the author)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review - Poems by Subhadip Mukherjee

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Reading the poetry of Subhadip Mukherjee in his book ‘ ছেঁড়া চিন্তার Scribbles’ (Offtrack Publishers, co-authored by Dr. Kausik Ghosh), I am convinced that he is bleeding. And that’s good news. Subhadip is a nagorik kobiyal. His poems hold mirror to the stifling urban life with its rat race, with its mindless pursuit of  materialistic ambitions, and with its consumerism. নাগরিক ব্যস্ততা নানা জটিলতা... দাশু বারবার কিস্তিমাত He mocks the same judgemental urban society right in his introduction when he says: যদি তাকে চিনে থাকো যদি তাকে জেনে থাকো Boss, বেশী . মিশোনা তার সাথে সামান্য নেশা হবে ... তুমিও " খারাপ " হবে দেরি হবে রোজ রাত্তিরে Subhadip’s poems paint love in its myriad hues – from extreme euphoria to brooding despondency. Subhadip depicts the unadulterated purity of love when he says: তুই ক্লাস নাইনৈর খাতার

The Sinners: Extract #1

  Aarti was with Vikram in her one-bedroom flat. It had been raining for quite some time - the dirt washed away, street lights reflected on the wet roads. There were distant rumbles in the evening sky, sounding almost ominous. Very few cars sped down the empty road below. The room was half-lit by a single lamp on the study desk.   It was just the two of them inside the flat. They had returned a while back after dining at the Marriott in Juhu.   “I’ve been missing you for days, Vikram! I don’t remember when we met last,” Aarti’s voice rose a couple of notches, the resentment in her tone pronounced. “And when we met today after weeks, we ended up fighting.”   There were beads of sweat on Aarti’s temples and above her lips. She was visibly tense. There was a bad taste in her mouth, not the kind you carry home after a dinner at the Marriott. Vikram tried to pull her closer but Aarti freed herself and walked away towards the desk. She looked away, trying to hide the tears that were th

Book Review - Ajaya: Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan

Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan published by Platinum Press (Leadstart Publishing) brings a unique perspective to the story of Mahabharata. In his introductory note, Neelakantan sets the premise of his work and is compellingly convincing in his characterization of Suyodhana, more (in)famously referred to as Duryodhana in popular lore, when he draws the reader’s attention to his unwavering determination to fight for his belief, his bravery and his strong personality. Neelakantan calls out incidents such as Suyodhana’s willingness to challenge the prevailing caste system by making Karna the king of Anga; his feelings for Ekalavya; his gallantry in taking on the Pandavas. At the same time, Neelakantan depicts him as a fallible human being, in sharp contrast with his cousins. Neelakantan’s storytelling is lucid and he creates powerful imagery. Right from the ‘visually rich’ and dramatic entry of Bhishma into the palace of Gandhara to walk away with the princess Gandha