I am happy and honored to host this guest post from the widely acclaimed actor, director and writer Jayant Kripalini. So here it goes:
Why did I start writing this set of short stories that became one long story? I don’t really know.
I was on way my 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. 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, “AitakiHaora Bridge naLaora Bridge?”
I knew exactly what he meant.
I knew then that I had the beginning of a story.
“Where are you getting off?” I turned around and asked.
“High Court,” he replied.
By now we had reached the East end of the bridge. It still looked like we’d be on the bus for another 45 minutes.
“Walk?” I asked him.
“Let’s,” he said.
And that as they say was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
His name was Khokon. He lived in Santragachhi. And because of that immortal first line, I called the protagonist of my story Khokon. In the book though, the line belongs to his colleague Ashutosh.
Some time later, I overheard a group of people talking about saving a water body from some unscrupulous builder.ArunLal the cricket player might have been a part of the group but I’m not sure. I started keeping tabs on them. Not because I was interested in saving the environment or even that small little lake.
I am not a crusader.
I hate getting involved with issues.
But if you live in Calcutta, even for a short while, trust me, you’ll get involved.
More power to the builder I thought after I first saw the lake if you can call brackish acres of sludge a lake.
What did interest me were the disparate lot of people, and some desperate ones among them, who were determined they were going to save a stagnant water body from becoming an office complex.Frankly in my opinion that lake had outlived its usefulness to be anything at all.
I didn’t give a damn what happened to the lake.
But over a period of time I did start worrying about the people. And of course fell hopelessly in love with them. Their wellbeing and their good health became a matter of great concern to me especially since I saw the array of ‘villains’ lined up against them.
So rather than concentrate on Builder v Helpless Citizen – enough stories had been written about them, I concentrated on their stories and their histories.
This is their story or should I say these are their stories. Some of the people are real; some of the people who come to their assistance are thinly disguised caricatures of people I admire; some are just people I met on buses and trams in my journeys across the bridge who wormed their way into the book.
And that is how this book got wrote.
CANTILEVERED TALES IS A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE, THEIR QUIRKS AND WHY THEY BECOME WHO THEY BECOME. AND LOTS OF LAUGHTER!
I overheard a group of people talking about saving a water body from some unscrupulous builder and started keeping tabs on them. Not because I was interested in saving the environment or even that small little lake. What did interest me were the disparate lot of people, and some desperate ones among them, who were determined that they were going to save a stagnant water body, which in my opinion had outlived its usefulness as anything at all, from becoming an office complex.
This is NOT a Builder v Helpless citizen epic. In fact that is the least important part of the book. This is about a group of inept people who you want to reach out and protect but you discover are more than capable of taking care of not just themselves, but of you too.
Jayant Kripalani is an Indian film, television and stage actor, writer and director. Known for his work in TV series like Khandaan, Mr Ya Mrs and Ji Mantriji, he graduated from Jadavpur University with a degree in English Literature.
He has played character roles in movies like Heat and Dust, Rockford, Jaane Tu. . .Ya Jaane Na, 3 Idiots and, most recently, Hawaizaade and The Hunger. He has directed and produced a number of films and is actively involved with theatre. He wrote the screenplay for ShyamBenegal’s film Well Done Abba. He is the author of the heartwarming and nostalgic New Market Tales, set in the historic New Market area of Kolkata in the 1960s and 1970s. His recent foray into writing performance poetry has brought him acclaim in poetic circles around the country. When he is not in Calcutta, he is either fishing in Himachal, pfaffing in Bombay or being a beach bum in Goa.