Posted on October 11, 2012


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  • My interview in Time Out magazine, by Jai Arjun Singh, aka Jabberwock, is here. An excerpt:

Why did you choose to write the book in the Q&A format? And what were the challenges in doing it this way?

I wrestled for a while with other options, but I settled on this format because he’s never talked at this length to anyone before, and it made sense to honour his participation in this project. It’s a terrible thing for a writer to do a book this way, because you have to suppress your writerly vanity and constantly remind yourself that this is not about your writing skills but about the back-and-forth of the conversation. But that said, I do feel that conversational books (as opposed to mere Q and A’s; and I hope readers will come away with the impression of having read a series of conversations and not just a set of questions and answers) come with their own set of challenges. The preparatory work is no different from any other type of non-fiction: you still have to do your research, come up with a list of things the book is going to be about, formulate those into questions, be prepared for accidental discoveries, and so forth. But there’s the problem of catching someone in a mood to answer your questions even when they may not be the most flattering. It’s easy to write a book about someone by talking to those around him and putting facts together, but when you’re talking to the person himself, you have to balance your job as a journalist (i.e. getting the hard facts) and your job as a facilitator (i.e. creating an ambience that makes it comfortable for so reticent a creator to open up, even when your questions are somewhat less-than-complimentary about his work).

  • The above interview as it appeared in Time Out magazine is here.
  • My interview in Dainik Bhaskar (with a link to a shorter piece in the e-paper), by Gajendra Singh is here. An excerpt:

How has your way of seeing his movies changed after knowing from him possibly every minute detail of how, why and with what context he made his movies?

I definitely understand why he made certain decisions regarding certain films. I understand his thought process, but understanding that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like the movie. For instance, you meet somebody for the first time and you’re sitting across him and you really don’t like a couple of things. For the second time, may be you become comfortable but the same things that irritated you the first time, are irritating you the second time. And then you talk to somebody else, a third person, and understand ki achcha the reason he’s so quiet is because of this, or the reason he’s so talkative is this. That understanding you have of that person is going to get you inside that person but that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop getting irritated by those traits.

  • My interview in the blog Ticker Talks Film (with an excerpt from AR Rahman’s foreword), by Raghav Modi is here. An excerpt:

Your chapter on Thiruda Thiruda ends a bit abruptly with Mani Ratnam stating that he doesn’t remember a dialogue you based your question on. Were there times during your conversations when you knew you had asked enough questions, pushed him to the limit, and it was time to move on?

There was also a bit of shaping of the questions, so that there would be some dramatic impact even within a session. But yes, you have to know, sometimes, when you have hit a wall and when it’s time to move on.

  • My interview in Kalki, by S. Chandramouli, is here. An excerpt:

ஒரு சந்திப்பில் அவர் சொன்ன விஷயங்களை, அடுத்த முறை சந்திப்பதற்கு முன்னால் எழுதிவிடுவேன். ஒவ்வொரு படத்தின் கதை, கதாபாத்திர உருவாக்கம், நடிகர்கள், வசனம் போன்றவற்றோடு கேமரா, எடிட்டிங், மியூசிக் போன்ற டெக்னிக்கல் விஷயங்களைப் பற்றியும் நிறைய பேசினோம். ஆனால், எல்லோருக்கும் படிக்க சுவாரஸ்யமாக இருக்கும்படி புத்தகம் அமைய வேண்டும் என்பதிலும் குறியாக இருந்தேன்.”

  • Not technically an interview, but my little sidebar to the Business Line review is here. An excerpt:

My first question in the first chapter is a simple one. But by the time we get to Roja, my first question to him is deeply personal and not quite complimentary. It’s almost an accusation. But once that rapport was established, I found him open to any kind of questions, because he’d understood by then that my motive was not accusatory, but simply trying to understand the choices he’d made. It was fantastic to hear why he did what he did, because sometimes we don’t realise how many decisions go into a movie.

  • And an interview that appeared in Midday is here. The image file:

Conversations with Mani Ratnam, Midday, Mumbai, 111912