Naman Ramachandran is a film critic with Sight & Sound, a film journalist covering South Asia for Variety and the UK and Ireland for Cineuropa, and the author of the book Lights, Camera, Masala: Making Movies in Mumbai. His Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography was published last month by Penguin India.
• Soaring into heaven moment:
After a tremendous beginning (yes, I do say so myself and it still holds up after much re-reading), I stumbled badly, and then what poured forth was thousands and thousands of words, much beyond the agreed limit. I think the correct operative term here would be ‘vomit’. The soaring into heaven moment came after, when following a period of mature deliberation i.e. getting hammered, I reread the vomit (interesting aside here, can vomit be read like tea leaves? But that’s neither here not there) and found to my flabbergasted surprise that most of it made sense.
• That infernal fire time:
The stumbling I’d referred to earlier is just another word for procrastination.
After having passed the first deadline with some success, I took walks, naps, cooked elaborate meals for my wife, smoked too much, drank heavily, took more naps… the cycle continued and I played with my publisher’s patience as much as I could – all the while not writing a word.
My excuse to myself was the old saw – ‘the book is processing in my head and practically writing itself’. The inertia was finally gotten rid off when my publisher sent me a politely worded note asking if I would like to downgrade the book to a slim paperback.
• The purgatory point:
This came after the book’s publication when the subject called me up and summoned me to Chennai without indicating what his thoughts on the product were. After two days of agony, when the meeting happened, it left me walking on air. I still am.
• …….years, …….drafts and ……….words thereafter, would you do this differently and again?
No and no. Maybe add information to a later edition, but that’s it.
Desire the most?
The usual cliches of being a bestseller loved by both the intelligentsia and masses and being rewarded to the point of never ever having to write again.
Hate the most?
Again I will go with the usual self-loathing cliche and answer – myself.