The Previews Party: For those who may not have heard about it, what is Mumbai Confidential all about?
Saurav Mohapatra: Simply put, imagine MC as a Mickey Spillane or a James Elroy story set in Mumbai. We pitched it as Sin City meets Slumdog Millionaire.
MC is a hardboiled crime-noir OGN set in the Indian city of Mumbai. The first book, "Good Cop, Bad Cop," tells the story of a washed-out drug addict ex-cop, who used to be a part of an elite squad of Mumbai Police known as the "Encounter Squad" - a group of cops tasked secretly by the government to carry out extra-judicial executions of wanted criminals circumventing the due process. It follows Arjun Kadam, the protagonist, as he pursues the investigation into a hit and run that killed a ten-year-old street urchin and put him in a coma. His investigation leads him back to his corrupt ex-colleagues.
The Previews Party: Mumbai Confidential seems to be ripped from the headlines. How did the history of Mumbai and the Encounter killings factor into the story you wanted to tell?
Saurav: I was in college when the bulk of the Encounter Cops phenomenon was unfolding. It has proven to be a staple for Bollywood over the years. MC doesn't claim to be a factual or a historical account. It's a very pulpy, hardboiled story set against that backdrop. As a storyteller, my first obligation is to tell an entertaining story . . . everything else (even the truth) is secondary.
These were cops who carried out executions in cold blood. Their targets, for the most part, were violent and seasoned criminals. It takes a certain kind of person to pull the trigger from point blank range at another human being. MC just tries to start from there and strips away any hint of glamor or heroism from that fact.
The Previews Party: The main story is illustrated by Vivek Shinde, but there are also several short stories by different artists. What was it like to collaborate with so many talented illustrators?
Saurav: Vivek and I worked for Virgin Comics (though we never got to work together). He has this gorgeous painted style that I felt would work nicely for a story like this. MC wouldn't have been possible without him.
Artists like Sid, Saumin, Devaki, and Shunakare are old members of the "gang" that worked for Virgin comics. They all were sort of my "focus group." They kept on turning in pin ups, etc. and bugged me to write stories for them to illustrate. Vinay B. is the son of Goving Brahmania, one of the pioneers of Indian Comics. So, I reached out to him to see if he'd be interested in contributing to MC.
See, the comics world in India is very small. Most of us are avid fans ourselves. The artists who contributed to MC did so, because, like Vivek and me, they too were kicked that someone was attempting to tell a different kind of story set in India.
Interesting factoid: I've never met *any* of my collaborators in person! We've kept in touch over email/phone/chat/etc. Wrangling them "via satellite" has been one of my greatest accomplishments of late. My wife jokes that the reason they all work with me is that they've never met me in person!
Jokes apart, it was a helluva joyride working with such talent and seeing them bring the world I dreamt of to life -- each in their unique way and style.
The Previews Party: Okay, pitch time! Why should our readers go to their local comic shop and pre-order Mumbai Confidential?
Saurav: If you're a fan of hardboiled crime-noir, how can you overlook a book about killer cops set in the little seen, dank underbelly of Mumbai? :) The "hero" is a drug-addicted ex-cop who used to kill people, and he's the "good guy!"
Seriously speaking, we have intended MC to be a blend of the familiar and the alien -- the universality of good noir in a unique and exotic locale. What's not to like?
The Previews Party: Since this is The Previews Party, are there any other upcoming comics or graphic novels that you are very excited about?
Saurav: A Reason for Dragons and the Sergio Toppi Sharaz-De reissue (both from Archaia).
The Previews Party would like to thank Saurav Mohapatra for joining us for the interview. We would also like to thank Archaia for setting up this interview for us. You can follow Saurav on Twitter at @Mohaps and get all of the latest updates from @Archaia on Twitter. So, what are you waiting for? Go and pre-order this book right now!
Until next time, keep reading.
- Jason Enright