'Some got emotional when speaking about Sridevi': Satyarth Nayak
Khaleej Times spoke to Satyarth Nayak, the author of a biography on the late Bollywood actress Sridevi, ahead of the session.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2021, which is billed as the one of the most highly anticipated literary events in Dubai’s social calendar, will be held over the next two weekends. Satyarth Nayak, whose literary debut was a thriller, is also the author of a biography on the late Bollywood actress Sridevi, and will be in conversation with fashion journalist Sujata Assomull today. Khaleej Times spoke to Nayak ahead of the session.
Looking back, Sridevi: The Eternal Screen Goddess was an authorised biography of the late actress. How did you go about researching for it?
My research for this book was two-pronged. A lot of it came as first-hand information from Sridevi’s family, friends and colleagues. I met most of her co-stars and filmmakers that she had worked with in Mumbai and down south and they shared wonderful and heartfelt inputs. Some of them even got emotional while recounting her memories. It was wonderful to see the kind of equity Sridevi had in all these industries and the affection her name stirred in all of them. If her seniors and contemporaries spoke of her with love and emotion, the younger generation had nothing but admiration and awe for the sheer cinematic legend that she will always be. Besides these interviews, my other big resource was a stack of film magazines from the ’80s and ’90s that form a part of my personal collection. They are filled with interviews of Sridevi through various stages of her career. In her absence, those quotes have become her voice in my book. When you read those, you will get glimpses of both the person and the performer that she was. Those were my main research components, and my own narrative becomes the glue that holds it all together. Regarding the Dubai leg, I spoke to quite a few of those who were present with Sridevi at the Marwah wedding like Manish Malhotra and Anil Kapoor and they have shared their last memories of her.
You had made your literary debut with The Emperor’s Riddles? How did you hit upon the plot structure?
I call my book a freak act of nature because it was not planned. It so happened that I had just finished reading a Dan Brown novel and had this sudden curiosity to know if something similar existed in Indian history or culture. Something wildly esoteric or a royal secret that spawned conspiracy theories. A random search on the Internet yielded a couple of obscure websites that suddenly revealed this fascinating legend involving one of our greatest emperors ever. The more I read, the more I knew this was one story I had to tell. Also, legends tend to be sketchy but this one was stuffed with details. In other words, half my job was already done, and I only needed to create a plot and characters around it. That’s how this journey began. I did not choose my first book. It chose me! I have always loved stories that have multiple layers that lend the book a rich texture. Also reading to and fro between two eras creates a sense of virtual time travel that is thrilling. In my book, while the contemporary action involves my lead pair on a trail of cryptic riddles scattered across the country, the historical track traces the evolution of the emperor and the royal secret that he designs.
Tell us about your upcoming book 100 Tales from Puranas.
The 18 Puranas are a universe of wisdom distilled through thousands of years. Exploring the evolution of Indian thought, these sacred texts present an exemplary moral map as they underline both human virtues and vices. For the first time now, 100 of the greatest stories from the Puranas have been handpicked for a Collector’s Edition. The ultimate objective of this collection is to entertain and enlighten readers who love mythology.
Is there a link between mythology and thrillers? If so, how?
Both are totally different genres but lend themselves wonderfully to a potent mix. Right from Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose to Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, it has been proved again and again that thriller and mythology can seamlessly blend into a gripping narrative. While mythology gives thrillers a certain grandeur, sublimity and epic quality, thrillers make mythology more exciting and contemporary. My new thriller titled Venom is a similar combination of ancient Hindu mythology and nail-biting suspense. It’s a mythological mystery thriller that will test your faith like never before.