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A tribute to the ‘Queen’

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Dec 14, 2015, 3:49 pm IST
Updated : Dec 14, 2015, 3:49 pm IST

...of suburbs. Author Murzban Shroff talks about his love for the queen of suburbs—Bandra, which provides the setting for his latest book, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy

MUMBAI LAUNCH 2.jpg
 MUMBAI LAUNCH 2.jpg

...of suburbs. Author Murzban Shroff talks about his love for the queen of suburbs—Bandra, which provides the setting for his latest book, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy

Murzban Shroff’s first confession of his love for the city of Mumbai came in 2008 in the form of his book Breathless In Bombay. But not unlike any other classic tale of love, this affair too found opposition aplenty, whether in the form of self-confessed godfathers or the kind that’s quick to take offence. And two and a half years of court cases and police troubles later, Shroff is now back with his latest work, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy that is set in his words, ‘the Queen of suburbs—Bandra’, which has been his stamping ground for a long time now.

Sitting down for a chat with popular cricket commentator and his neighbour Harsha Bhogle, Murzban launched his latest book at an event held at Crossword Bookstores this Thursday, where many of his fans gathered to grab an autographed copy of the book and interact with him.

Waiting for Jonathan Koshy, the second part of Shroff’s Mumbai trilogy, is predominantly based on the deterioration of the suburb of Bandra. Calling the book a tribute to Bandra, Murzban says, “She is the queen of suburbs and I repair to her almost every weekend. A certain community-feeling prevailed earlier, which is now eroding away and right now, when I see what’s happening to Bandra, it is really disturbing. I’m actually paying a tribute to her.”

Jonathan Koshy, the fictional character at the center of his book is a Kerala-based migrant who comes to the city of Mumbai. Shedding light on how he conjured the jocular lead character, Murzban says, “Jonathan is just as multi-dimensional as life. I didn’t aim to make him an entertainer. In fact, my character is a high IQ loser, and the whole point that I’m also trying to make is that everybody doesn’t have to be a winner. He is an idealist, a dreamer and a thinker.”

It was when he began working on a novel on the transgenders of Mumbai, which Shroff states was a ‘fairly dark phase of his life’, that the idea of Jonathan struck him. The source, he says was a desperate need for entertainment and desire to work on something lively and challenging that also broke new ground in literature.

Harsha, who is still Shroff’s neighbour was particularly fascinated about how he would come across different characters and actually invest time in studying them from another person’s perspective.

“He would drop by in the evenings and recite stories about interesting characters he’d met, and I’d wonder whether it was just Murzban who met interesting people or did funny people congregate around him ” said Harsha.

According to Shroff, the style of writing he has adopted in his book has left him a lot of room to explore the various societal constructs that his story deals with. He says, “The post-modernist and episodal style in which the book is written permitted me to not only reflect on the anarchy in Jonathan’s mind but also on the anarchy in India’s mind, primarily related to the socio-economic constructs and corruption.”

Murzban has published his works of fiction in over 50 literary journals in the U.S and UK. After spending 16 years in the advertising industry, Shroff switched to his first love — writing.

In February 2008, he published his debut short story collection titled Breathless in Bombay, which garnered a lot of critical acclaim for its ability to successfully depict a city in transition and in the throes of seismic modernisation, but was also consumed by controversy after a city-based social activist objected to his use of the word ‘ghaati’ in the book.