Creator Spotlight: Archaia's Mumbai Confidential
Jan 23, 2013
|Item Code: JAN130840|
Mumbai Confidential: Book One Good Cop, Bad Cop
Original Graphic Novel Hardcover
(W) Saurav Mohapatra
(A) Vivek Shinde & Various
(CA) Vivek Shinde
Five years ago, Arjun Kadam was a rising star in the ranks of the Mumbai Encounter Squad-an elite unit tasked by the powers that be to carry out extrajudicial executions of notorious gangsters. However, the death of his pregnant wife at childbirth derailed his life and set him off on a spiral of depression and drug addiction.
When Kadam is the victim of a hit-and-run, he falls into a coma for a month. Upon waking up, he finds a new sense of purpose and pursues the investigation into the identity of the driver after the cops close the case due to a lack of leads. His investigation takes him on a journey through the deep, dark heart of Mumbai, where the line between the police and the criminals has been blurred by his ex-colleagues on the Encounter Squad.
Obsessed with his mission, Kadam sets off a desperate game of intrigue and deception that pits him against the very machine of violence and corruption he once helped create. Includes a collection of illustrated short stories.
Interview with Saurav Mohapatra, Writer
What inspired you to create Mumbai Confidential?
Saurav Mohapatra: Mumbai Confidential is quite simply the hardboiled crime-noir movie I got tired of waiting for. I’ve been a big fan of western crime fiction like the stories of Spillane, Chandler, and Hammett. (I actually snuck those books inside schoolbooks in “Civics” to avoid my teachers and parents from finding out. Somehow, no one checks a Civics book.) And, I grew up watching the very Indian phenomenon of “Encounter Cops” unfold before me. So, MC is a love song to all of those, combining the two often-repeated dictums for writers: Write what you know, write what you love!
Why did you choose to set the story in Mumbai specifically?
Saurav Mohapatra: I lived in Mumbai for a short time in 1996. The city overwhelmed me. The closest I’ve come to that feeling is when I saw New York for the first time. It’s such a great prism. I mean, you can set a story about a man eating a sandwich in Mumbai, and instantly it becomes exponentially more interesting. Crime noir deals in universal themes—the loser, double crosses, the faceless machine, the femme fatale—but setting it in Mumbai allowed me to take those dials up to 11, by adding an exquisite twist to it, making it strange and familiar at the same time to the readers. Plus, the “Encounter Cop” phenomenon is uniquely Mumbai. I believe [artist] Vivek [Shinde] and I pitched it to Archaia as Sin City meets Slumdog Millionaire.
What kind of research did you do when writing Mumbai Confidential?
Saurav Mohapatra: For the base material about the Mumbai underworld and Encounter killings, I drew on newspaper headlines, books about the Mumbai underworld, the movies of Anurag Kashyap and Ram Gopal Verma like Satya, Company, and the seminal “Encounter Cop” movie, Ab Tak Chhappa” by Shimit Amin. I was in college when this period of Mumbai’s history was unfolding. So in a way, this was my most immediate mythology. That being said, MC is a throwback to the era of hardboiled crime fiction, so “research” also involved a ton of reading of seminal books like L.A. Confidential, White Jazz, the Mike Hammer stories, and watching movies like Chinatown, Johnnie To’s Exiled, and a lot of others.
How does Vivek’s art style complement your story?
Saurav Mohapatra: Simply put, Vivek's art defines the angst-filled atmosphere MC is set in. His hyper-real painted style presents to you a world so bleak that optimism is just another in a long list of follies you fall prey to.
His rendition of Mumbai is part Urban Decay, part Urban Sprawl, a vision of the dank underbelly of a thriving metropolis that hits you in the gut and keeps on stabbing.
Why do you think this story is relevant today?
Saurav Mohapatra: I'm a cynical optimist. I believe in the goodness of the human heart, I just don't count on it. Remember, Caesar did march on Rome. When we create these Praetorian constructs as a shortcut, we are essentially igniting a fuse on a powder keg right under our own selves—one that will most definitely consume us.
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