Mutation of Ideas

about how I came up with the ideas…ever wondered how or what makes a person think about writing something?

WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!

Seed:

The title refers both to the fact that the seed of bad thought being sowed in Rajan’s mind and the fact that this “Seed” becomes a base for the coming stories in one way or another.

The story was initially written as my entry to a small competition at a writing workshop which altered my writing plans. Then, I didn’t even think of writing a book. The story in its original form was crude and with lots of readability issue. Though the original story received lukewarm feedback, there was something about this story which I couldn’t part with. The concept of the story kept haunting me and suddenly one day an idea struck me “What about writing a collection of stories…”.

The mutation of thoughts didn’t stop there, infact it had just begun. “Why would anyone read a collection of short stories? How do I make it interesting?” I asked myself a question.

What if they are interlinked?” I asked again.

Need more than that!” I demanded.

Ok, follow some theme…” came the answer.

How many stories can I write?” I challenged my will.

Maybe 9 to 10” I wondered.

9 seem to be an interesting number….Navarasas” rang a bell.

What about Dashaavathar?” rang another.

People would think am writing a religious book and moreover it’s the name of a Kamal Hasan’s movie…” I tried to justify.

What makes you think “Navarasa” doesn’t sound retro or contemporary?” I ridiculed.

Ok, “Navarasa by lotus” it shall be.” I fought back.

Is that my pen name?” I asked at first.

No! It’s the title!!”

Not bad, so what next?”

Plot 9 story lines for each of the rasas…”

How can I?”

=========

Rat:

After “Seed” comes “Rat”,

Hmm…Rats eat Seeds? This is turning into one farmer’s problem!” I thought.

Heroism is one of the nine-rasas. When I thought hard about Heroes I felt comic book heroes were less boring. Writing a story about heroism wasn’t difficult for a self confessed Nolan’s Batman fan like me. However, making it sound realistic and DESI was the challenge I had to face. We all know that a hero is only as good as the villain allows him to be.

In reality villains are not crazy geek scientists with gizmos and blowing up things in and around the metros. They are worse than that. While I thought hard about the antagonist came a phase of daily life where prices of food products shot up like mercury levels in hot summers. There! I found an inspiration even at difficult times. I made the antagonist a believable food grain hoarder. Ain’t it sounding realistic?
So,we have our antagonist ready!

Now, (drum roll) here comes the hero!
Who in the world other than Bruce Wayne would throw himself out as a vigilante? In India to be precise. I always thought the Monkey-Man incident in areas surrounding Delhi was a wannabe masked vigilante’s plan gone wrong. Just imagine, a freak dressed up as a bat jumped around the buildings in Gotham city and he was called Bat-Man. Clearly somebody was inspired by the idea and tried something during the late 90s and it clearly went wrong.
Hold on! I too hate copying. I got inspired here (Ok, I agree with you. A very thin line separates Copy and Inspiration.)yet I wanted this story of a vigilante to be different. The vigilante in my story is not someone who is motivated to fight against the villains just because he had suffered personally or because he is a noble man.
“How about a person who becomes a vigilante accidentally?!!” I wondered.
“PERFECT!!!” I screamed.
“Now, the difficult part, what do you mean by accidentally?” I asked myself.
There are times where you become something which was never your instinct, but you become that only because somebody told you so…
Imagine, when somebody tells me “Rajiv, you are such a handsome man!” I would tell myself “I didn’t know that! Am I?”
If two more say the same thing to me then I tell to myself “Well…Ok. I am handsome,alright!” Many would disagree with me and many more would agree with me. I meant the analogy! Also, come on it makes a story unique, doesn’t it? (this part of the story is not covered in the teaser, so it might sound off-topic for readers not familiar with rest of the story)

Finally,
Any inspirations, spoofs etc?

Hmm, inspiration? Maybe slightly influenced by Bruce Wayne, for he is not a super human but does a neat job in cleaning up the city, pretty believable (at least in Nolan’s version so far).
Oh! I remember one thing now, yes I was greatly inspired by the first chapter of the movie “Inglorius Basterds”. A lengthy scene where the character Hans Landa (Nazi Officer) gets into a tense yet calm talk with La Padite (housing Jews). So, I wanted to start of the story slowly with a conversation between the antagonist and the protagonist which ends with a bang! However, I agree with you that the opening (part mentioned in the teaser) of “Rat” is nowhere close to the first chapter of “Inglorius Basterds”. As I said earlier I was just inspired!

===========

Mutiny!

If I had to shun the diplomacy and fake honesty, I believe that this is the best story I have written in terms of creativity!

I wanted to write a humorous story. Had several other ideas on mediocre plots on slapstick comedy set in metros. But, again I wanted to give something different and unique! Humour is not just about lol right? So I thought I should put a dry smile on the face yet make the reader think.

Many people liked the ad on TV which villanises a mosquito with a fancy name. Now, technically it was a character assassination of a mosquito!! (am serious!)

Who are we (humans) to determine that mosquitoes are bad? Whereas we are worse than it! Let me not get into the details of the way we are exploiting nature and robbing other species of their life and real estates!

Anyway, I always believed that it’s just our perception which makes a person bad or good, so I slightly extrapolated this thought to other species. I felt, let me think of a mosquitoes perspective on why they have to survive on sucking humans blood.

To make it a dark comedy, I pulled in few more domestic pets/pests normally found in a typical Indian neighbourhood. Dogs, crows, cows etc. and their sufferings. If you are asking why not cockroaches, then I don’t have an answer  Initially I thought about Rat as a protagonist, and actually the rats which appear in “Rat” story were the characters! Later on it sounded more like the movie Ratatouille, so I abandoned that angle.

Any inspirations?
Oh yeah! A lot! I remember a day when I woke up and had a bad day at college, the reason being unable to get proper sleep. Why? Not that I had a girlfriend and busy chatting with her late into the night. It was the street dogs, they had a kind of mafia war going on. On top of that the noisy mosquitoes. They kept barking, intimidating, howling…yet nobody in our street including me had the patience of calling the dog catching van. From then on, I consciously noticed that even trivial things like
Uncomfortable pillow
Sagging bed
Mosquitoes humming around
Tottering noise of auto rickshaws
Would spoil a good night’s sleep and the effect cascades into the following day-life. I wondered if the dogs and mosquitoes intentionally disturbed our neighbourhood’s sleep, hence came the idea to write Mutiny.

At several places I intentionally overlooked the actual zoological facts about mosquitoes like their life expectancy and other details. This was to show that humans really think they know a lot about other species whereas they really don’t, maybe we are just assuming…this was the spoof intended when the mosquitoes and dogs learn that humans talk to each other, while all the while they thought they were just shouting at each other.

Mutiny happens to be my first story which went paperless. It was at this time I purchased a netbook and was hooked to it for a month and churned this story out. Also the beginning of my habit of structuring of the plot, characters, dialogues etc, in an excel sheet!

———–EVOLUTION OF THE COVER PAGE!—————-

The moment I got an offer from the publishing house, I knew the tough part was yet to come, the cover page design.

First version: It took me around a week to come up with a concept. After lots of scribbling gibberish ideas, I stuck with the idea of enclosing a clock dial into the circular part of a 9. Nine, represented the number of stories and rasas. Each of the icons inserted represent key elements of each of the stories. For e.g: Rat is a story about a masked vigilante hence a mask, and Mutiny is a story about a Mosquito hence the Mosquito!! The prototype was created on MS Word and I captured a screen shot.

Second version: My good friend Anurag Kumar, using his photoshop skills fine tuned the appearance and gave a curvy gray nine! This was the version I sent across to the graphics team at the publishing house.

Third and Fourth Version: The designer at the publishing came up with these two versions based on the prototype provided by me. The fourth version was almost finalised. The purple color scheme was meant to be my tribute to Heath Ledger’s immortal characterisation of Joker in the movie THE DARK KNIGHT.

F for Fifth, also F for Final! : Just as I was  about to approve the fourth version, my another good friend (yep! all my friends are good to me 🙂 ) Niranjan pointed out that since each of the icons refer to each of the stories, which in turn refer to a particular rasa. He gave the idea of coloring each of the icons with respect to the mood of the rasa. For e.g: Red for anger!  Voila, the cover page turned into a technicolor poster. Finally this was sent for the prints. Hence the cover page!

Next time when you come across a cover page, you know what went behind the scenes into making it!

==== TO BE CONTINUED!

Coming next, how I wrote T20 story!


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