Thursday, June 29, 2017

Charismatic as Ever - Jayant Kripalani

CANTILEVERED TALES  (From the Readomania stable)

When Jayant Kripalani agreed to answer a few questions of mine, I was elated for two main reasons. In our salad days, my friends and I would watch him avidly in TV serials like Khandaan and Mr ya Mrs, and swoon over his clipped accent and charm. We even enjoyed his ‘gale mein kich kich’ Vicks advertisement! J

Secondly, I was quite sure that his responses to my questions would be far from run-of-the-mill, and I was not disappointed. He still retains the witty humour he was so well known for. If you feel that I have a smile on my face when I say this, do go ahead and enjoy his tongue-in-cheek answers. A certain TV host might not smile, though! J

And so, off we go...

1. Theatre, advertisements, films, books, corporate training... you have done it all! Which one of these did you enjoy the most?

Hard to tell! One got so completely involved in whatever one was doing;  some uncertainty creeps in at the thought of putting a percentage on enjoyment. They were all, as my son used to say as a child, ‘blaady fun’.

       2.  How did ‘Cantilevered Tales’ come about? Why did you finally choose this name and what significance does it have as far as your book is concerned?

I was on my way back from somewhere by train, and at Howrah Station, a group of taxi drivers tried to extort a higher fare from me.  This was before the time of pre-paid taxi booths. So rather than shell out five times the fare, I thought I’d take a bus. It was peak hour in the morning and though I did get a seat since the bus started from there, I hadn’t calculated the length of time I’d be sitting in the bus on the bridge.

Forty-five minutes of inching along later, I heard a voice behind me say, with a mixture of disgust and boredom, “Aita ki Haora Bridge na Laora Bridge?” I knew exactly what he meant. (I’ve told this story so many times I’ve got it memorized. I wish I could remember my lines as an actor with such ease.)

I knew then that I had the beginning for a story. I became friends with the man, got him to talk about himself and the tedium of his life. It might have been tedious for him. For me, the lives of ordinary, seemingly boring people are far more interesting than the lives of politicians and or film stars.

And that was how Cantilevered Tales began. In fact, the bus ride was the journey from which I took off on a tangent. And many tangents later, here we are!
The working title of the book was “Aita ki Haora Bridge na Laora Bridge” but better sense prevailed.

Why 'Cantilevered Tales? I guess because the book had its genesis on a bridge. A cantilevered one, as Howrah is partially a cantilevered bridge. But also, a cantilever is a projecting beam or girder supported only at one end. So are most of the characters  and their stories. They are all firmly rooted, but only at one end. There is something rather flaky and 'floaty', if I may use the word, about them. And in their own ways, their characters have been inspired by some very 'cantilevered characters' I've met in this city in the last three or four years.

        3.  In both, ‘New Market Tales’ and ‘Cantilevered Tales’, how did you pin-point your characters? Do you write about real people or do you pepper your descriptions with fiction to make them more interesting?

To quote from a song by Kris Kristofferson –
“He is a walking contradiction
Partly truth and partly fiction…”
I might see a character trait in someone that can trigger a whole history, and usually does, as in the case of Banshi Mama in CT. I met this man whose prime function in life was ‘sewaor service, and Banshi Mama was born. Giving him a believable story was partly research and largely imagination. To rephrase Kristofferson, ‘partly truth and mostly fiction’ would be better.

4.   Do you have the seeds of an idea for your next book?

Of course! And no, I’m not going to share the idea with you!

5.  Have we lost our sense of fun, considering that everyone around has corns to be trodden on? Are we too serious about everything in life? When was the last time you did something purely for fun? 

Oh, yes! We have become a grim species, but I don't believe we've become serious about life. I just think we take ourselves too seriously. And therefore, we sometimes forget to laugh at ourselves.
I do everything for fun, so I don't really feel competent to answer the second part of your question. Besides, having fun is a serious business, don't you think? :) 

6.  It has been said that he is no fool that plays the part. How tough is it to bring comedy into what you do, be it acting, directing or writing? Do great artistes have to have seeds of eccentricity within them to create great art?

Not being a great artiste, I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. But, comedy? It’s easy to bring comedy into any work. Why do you think there is a plethora of stand-up comics around? Because everything is so bloody hilarious!

 7. Today the most entertaining channels are the news channels... they have everything that TV series had in the past. Any comment?

Of course, The Repubic (I was going to correct the typo but decided to let it be) channel takes the cake!

8.   An original Jayant Kripalani quote?

“If you stub a cigarette out in a teacup, life will serve up your tea in an ashtray.”
(This is a filthy habit I had as a bachelor. My wife, bless her, didn’t say a thing, but the next morning I did get my tea served up in an ashtray, and voila, an original Jayant Kripalani quote was born.)

And as I sign off, it is with a sense of delight, for when the larger-than-life image and the real man overlap in a blend of harmony, the star emerges, unscathed by the slings and arrows of life!

To buy 'Cantilevered Tales' from Amazon:

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