BOOKS

Sin city
Mumbai’s crime scene gets a graphic makeover by writer Saurav Mohapatra and artist Vivek Shinde
PANEL EXPERTS Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde capture the gritty, merciless world of police encounters

For Bollywood in the Seventies and Eighties, Mumbai was the go-to crime capital. Lately, lms like Gangs Of Wasseypur and Kahaani have shifted the focus to badlands elsewhere. In the world of graphic novels, however, the nancial capital’s gutter-riddled gangland – and the cinema it spawned – continues to be a source of inspiration. Take, for example, writer Saurav Mohapatra and artist Vivek Shinde’s graphic series Mumbai Con dential from early last year, which draws on stories from the city’s seamy underbelly and is inspired by action sequences from John Woo movies. While the story of MC isn’t new – encounter specialist Arjun Kadam is caught in a corrupt system that challenges his sense of justice – this return to Mumbai’s underworld is compelling for its vivid artwork.  Over email from San Francisco, Mohapatra gave us his take on crime ction in India, and what to expect from MC in the future.
How did Vivek and you meet? Vivek and I both worked for the short-lived Virgin Comics. We never got to work on a title together, but the world of comics is small, so we knew of each other and frequently chatted over IM. When Virgin shut shop, I was
58 — MARCH 2013

weeknights. Jokes apart, I’m quite comfortable working remotely. I cofounded a startup called dimdim.com, which made web-based collaboration software. In a way, I almost think that Vivek continues to work with me only because he has never met me in person! Is the next instalment of Mumbai Con dential on its way, or does this hardbound edition mean this is it? It’s de nitely on the way! We’ve always viewed MC as a universe, à la Sin City. We’re currently choosing the plot and setting for the next instalment. We’ve got some great responses to the short stories – the “Interludes”, which are interspersed with the main narrative – in Vol 1. We might do an interim project with more in-universe shorts before Vol 2. So, as St Arnold of Schwarzenegger once said: “We’ll be back!” What’s your take on the new crime movies coming out of Bollywood – the Wasseypur lms, for instance? Will we see

your spin on smaller Indian cities, too? They’re refreshing. GoW is an awesomely executed piece of storytelling, a triumph of characters and milieu. You know what’s going to happen. You’ve seen it in newspaper headlines, in umpteen movies. Yet, it holds your attention. The characters are larger than life and realistic at the same time. The same is true of the way it’s been directed. I once read a piece of advice on building a scene: The gunshot is inevitable, so don’t waste time describing it. You’re better off nding a new way to build up to the gunshot. As for the small-town setting, I’m currently working with an Indiabased publisher on my rst longform novel called The Night Train Chronicles – it’s a magic realism/horror story set in the Indian hinterland and its one-horse towns. Has the iPad – or comic book technology for tablets in general – in uenced your work? Madere, for instance, has embedded soundclips and makes use of the iPad's motion sensors. The iPad, or for that matter, any seven- or 11-inch tablet, takes care of an important detail in the transition from print to digital comics: You get more real estate, so you feel less constrained to produce something grid-like. Made re is certainly a technology to watch out for, not least because the extremely talented Ben Abernathy, previously of DC/WildStorm, is now involved with it. The problem that all next-gen technologies must surmount is how much of the old and new to blend together. Humans, statistically, like the 90 per cent old/ 10 per cent new combination. We tend not to accept something that’s too radical.
The hardbound edition of Mumbai Confidential is out this month. mumbaiconfidential.com

already in the process of eshing out Mumbai Con dential as a concept. Vivek’s painted, hyper-real style seemed like a great t, and he was itching to use it in a project. Things sort of happened from there. Vivek’s in Mumbai, you’re in San Francisco. How did you reconcile time zones? I slept three to four hours on

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