New Delhi, Aug 10: A trilogy more than two decades in the making, Sahitya Akademi award winning author Kiran Nagarkar’s chronicle of two young men hoping to make it big in Bollywood, has finally drawn to a close with the release of his latest book. Also Read - Yogi Adityanath Wants to Hijack Bollywood: Shiv Sena's Strong Opinion on UP CM's Meeting With Film People Over New Film City
‘Rest in Peace’ Ravan and Eddie — the darkly humorous tale of two down-on-their luck youngsters from Mazgaon in Mumbai, began with the publication of the first book “Ravan and Eddie” in 1995. Growing up in the cramped Central Works Department chawl in Mumbai, the infant Ram unwittingly falls off a balcony onto Eddie’s father, accidentally killing him in the process. Soon after, the god-fearing mother of the infant re-christens him Ravan, in a bid to ward off the evil eye. Also Read: Piku writer to mentor emerging writers Also Read - Watch: In True Bollywood Style, Chennai Cop Chases & Catches Bike-Borne Phone Snatcher; Wins Praise
Inexorably bound by tragedy, the two heroes Ravan and Eddie stumble along a rocky road laden with adventures and misadventures, all in the hope of finding fame in tinsel town. From the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to the badlands of Chambal. From air-kissing high-society to gun-wielding mafia bosses, the duo muddle along from one catastrophe to another, without ever losing their trademark sangfroid. Also Read - After Quitting Acting, Imran Khan Spotted in Mumbai, Fans Say 'Come Back To Movies'
After the first book Nagarkar waited for 17 years to pick up the narrative again and take the story forward in the second of his trilogy. “The Extras” published in 2012, saw Ravan and Eddie getting a chance to shake a leg with actress Helen in a Bollywood song. “While writing the first book, I had gone into Ravan and Eddie’s adulthood. Then I realised that this is not going to be a small book, if I am to write one book alone.
In the meantime I was drawn to the character of Mirabai or rather that of her husband, and so I wrote ‘Cuckold’,” says the author who won a Sahitya Akademi award for it. “Rest in Peace”, published by Harper Collins, is set in the 80s and 90s. The third in the series of novels starring the two oddly named protagonists starts off with the duo finally making it to Bollywood as successful music directors.
But then, to their dismay, they discover even though their song has reached dizzying heights of popularity, they are still stuck in the mire of anonymity. “In the first chapter of ‘Rest in Peace’ you find out that the duo have been completely ignored. Ravan has gone back to being a taxi driver and Eddie is back to being a car mechanic. Then they find out that they have been located. The first part of the book is about how they then make it to the big time,” he says.
For the 73-year-old writer, who is also a playwright besides a film and drama critic, the tale of Ravan and Eddie, began to take shape much before 1995. “I first wrote the story in the year 1978 as a screenplay. A Bollywood avant-garde filmmaker was interested in turning it into a film. But then we were operating in completely different wavelengths. I never heard back from him,” he says. Also Read: 4 Female South Asian Writers, Activists, and Thought Leaders to [Re]Discover in 2015
Nagarkar’s previous writings include “Bedtime Stories”, a twisted play based on the Mahabharat, and “Cuckold” which prominently features the author’s vision of Mirabai’s husband. “It is strange really, because I was raised as a part of the Brahmo Samaj which is monotheistic. But some of my books also deal with mythological characters. ‘God’s Little Soldier’ is entirely about religion. Do I know how to explain these paradoxes? I really don’t know,” he says.
In “Bedtime Stories” several scenes from the Mahabharat were turned on its head. In Nagarkar’s play, the mythological character Ekalavya refuses to cut off his finger as “dakshina” for Drona. Instead he gives him a thumb fashioned out of mud. The topic was subversive. The play was censored by the Maharashtra Censor Board and was not allowed to be performed for 17 years. A dejected Nagarkar stopped writing.
“I seemed to have decided not to write. For about 14 years I did not write. Then I went back to writing with Ravan and Eddie,” he says. Nagarkar started off writing in Marathi when in 1973 he wrote his first story, ‘Saat Sakkam Trechalis’ (Seven Sixes Are Forty-Three). “I still don’t know why I started writing in Marathi. I had studied the language only for the first four years of my life,” he says. So does the story of Ravan and Eddie end with this novel? “No I have nothing on the cards. But then”, he adds, “characters have their own fates.”