Tuesday, November 23, 2010

C.P.Surendran’s New Novel “Lost and Found” Launched in Bombay

Last Saturday was the Bombay launch of C.P.Surendran's novel "Lost and Found". Here are my impression, the little, little things the media will miss out on. After all blogging is about personalization, isn't it so? It was held at the BMB Art Gallery and there's an exhibition that goes with the reading highlighting passages from the novel. I spot Bose Krishnamachari, the artist, and Bachi Karkaria in the audience. C.P.'s being interviewed in a corner. The gallery is quite a nice place tucked into a niche in the Queens Mansion, it has a cafe, too.

C.P.Surendran at the launch of his second novel "Lost and Found" in Bombay.
Lilette Dubey, theatre personality, launched the book and read two excerpts but looked nonplussed when she didn't see a be-ribboned book to release.  She also needed a stand to hold the mike, "I can't hold a mike while reading." C.P. improvised by thrusting the mike into a glass tumbler and murmurs, "wonderful container, this glass."

Then she said, "the glamour goes and the glasses comes on," as she goes on to wear her glasses (a triple alliteration there, brilliant, I think. She should have been a writer, don't I think?). Then she begins to read and I realize why she is such a good actor. Her voice is fluent, practiced, full of emotional nuances. Heck, she is good. I sit back to enjoy the evening in the dull and muted glow of soft light and wine and probably one of our best writers of what is called Indian Writers in English, read by probably one of our best actors.

But the mike had to spoil it all. Gah! It went dead half way through. You know what happens, when it happens thusly. You feel as if you have woken from a dream. The reason might have been that since there wasn't a mike stand, and since it was thrust into a glass, the transmitting end of the mike ended inside the glass and the waves didn't transmit. Simple. However, it spoiled the show for me. I was asking myself several questions at once: Why couldn't a mike check have been done? Who was responsible? Shouldn't readings be taken more seriously?

Then C.P. read a passage of the book where the terrorists attack a restaurant (Leopold, I suppose). (C.P. apologies for his Mallu accent. You needn't do that, it wasn't that obvious, if you ask me. And, what's wrong with a Mallu accent? I flaunt it. A Maharashtrian doesn't apologise for his Mahu accent. Does he?) There's a starlet in there – the novel, I mean – who asks to be spared because she is going to act in a movie, a Salman movie. That's incredible and subtle dark humour in a serious novel dealing with the subject of terrorism. Reminds me of what C.P. said to me when he read my first – as yet unpublished – novel, "you need to be ironic."

Came question time and nobody is asking. C.P. says "John" and I ask something about if it is all about 26/11 or is there a love story.

"There are two love stories," he says.

"Two love stories?" Then I am going to read it after I put down the un-put-down-able "A House for Mr. Biswas" which I am currently gorging.

He is also of the view that Kasab should be reprieved. Twenty-sixth of November is only four days in the future and we Bombay-ites need to chew cud and smoke the peace pipe on this one. Don't forget the three days we all spent in our homes frightened to death.

"Congrats C.P., all the very best," I say after I get my copy autographed. I like him and his writing quite a lot. He is the only contemporary I know whose prose is didactic as well as well thought out and aimed at holding a critical mirror at our society. His is the voice of honesty and truth in a corrupt world. After I wrote my first novel and didn't know which way to look for fear of being ridiculed, C.P. was one among the few people who read and encouraged me.

The glitches apart, it was an enjoyable evening at the BMB Art Gallery. 

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