Our city has been churning out writers like no other and in recent times, English novels have become a force of the new-age writers. We will soon see a new writer rise on the horizon. Mayur Didolkar is the man of the moment with his debut novel Kumbhpur Rising (KR). One can call this novel as a spooky thriller.
Mayur prefers calling himself to belong to the storyteller bunch of writers and themes are but a by-product. “Broadly speaking, the book deals with two central ideas. Firstly, why ordinary people doing mundane jobs have such huge fascination for violence? And, secondly, when the weight of injustice becomes unbearable, would the ends justify means? KR came due to the fact that in the later part of the novel there is a scene of a mass suicide committed by occupants of the village Kumbhpur and them coming back to life, more specifically rising out of the sea again. For a person who is not highly visual in his imagination, it was one of the most harrowing and terrifying images and hence the name.” He goes ahead and does an ironic comparison to The Stepford Wives. “So the town descending in mindless killing and anarchy, nominally being represented by villagers rising out of sea was a compelling paradox to me. So I stuck with the name Kumbhpur Rising.”
Broadly speaking, the book deals with two central ideas. Firstly, why ordinary people doing mundane jobs have such huge fascination for violence? And, secondly, when the weight of injustice becomes unbearable, would the ends justify means?
Regarding the story, Mayur reveals, “It started with me reading this news about a police constable firing at his superior on airport. It got me thinking what demons must have driven a middle aged government servant to take such step. The second thought was me reading about companies strict no tolerance policies about work place romance and it made me think how realistic is it for organisations to expect employees not to form relationship when for most of us, the time we spend with our co-workers is probably the longest and most intense. Parallel to this was a theme I was exploring where a white collar worker goes on a killing spree to avenge his company being taken over or some other similar offense.”
His last bizarre idea came from a visual of a five-year-old girl child on a window sill with clothes indicating her poor background. The next confirmed image was that she was dead child, a ghost. “And that’s it. That image coupled with the story of the constable shooting at his boss and a few friends and ex-colleagues facing a terrifying situation all came together and I spent next four years or so writing this apparently endless book. I began writing in 2004 and finished in December 2008,” Mayur narrates.
Starting with a notebook, Mayur switched to the office laptop. Since his work hours were not fixed and were long, it meant the book took a long time to be written. “Only when the book was about 80 per cent through, I knew for once I was going to finish a writing project and got down to it. To me, it is more interesting to put a set of characters in situation not comfortable to them and see how, based on their behaviour and strengths and weakness and so on.”
While Mayur admits to reading around 50-60 books a year, most are fiction, with a bit autobiography thrown in. “In fiction, I am a big fan of Stephen King. Michel Connelly and his world of serial killers, FBI profilers and conflicted cops is a favourite place to go. In college, I was a huge war stories fan and read lot of Jack Higgins, Alistair Mclean and Wilbur Smith. Since storytellers have a special place in my heart, I loved reading Lawrence Sanders too. And an odd note in here is PG Wodehouse. My favourite novels would include Silence of the Lambs, Needful Things, Shining and The Poet in no particular order.”
Mayur adds, “I think in terms of entertainment, after an overdose of other forms of entertainment, reading has made a comeback. Self publishing has become cheaper and with jobs in IT/financial services etc. driving the earnings up, people like me can think of publishing a book as a substitute for one year’s worth of leisure trip and go ahead. The real challenge that I see is pushing the book through the distribution channel so that more and more people read it.” This Marathwada native is an Arts graduate from Fergusson College and has been working in sales for a long time. He admits to having first-time jitters as writer but got a good pushing quite a number of well-wishers gave him a go-ahead with regards the book.
All we can say is that Kumbhpur Rising by Mayur Didolkar is definitely a novel to look forward to.