Interview: The ‘Starer’, ‘Fishy’, ‘Sliver’ And ‘Judger’, Cyrus Daruwala Picks His Favourite Mumbaikars

{0 Comments}

0

The Mumbai metro was the butt of jokes recently when the Mumbai monsoons beat it. Images of rainwater pouring through the metro rail ceiling went viral within hours. But quite frankly, this is just another day in the life of the Mumbai rail. Never a dull moment. And there is one man who enjoys this mayhem more than others.

Cyrus Daruwala is a regular train traveler, but with a difference. While we are busy checking our phones or cribbing about the crowd as we commute, he is just observing, us. His book ‘I Take This Train Too’ is a quirky, humurous take on the personalities one might encounter while commuting. I spoke to him at length about what inspired him to create these endearing characters.

“Often I had nothing better to do than simply observe the people around me. It struck me that these characters were extremely intrinsic to the train journey.”

Cyrus DaruwalaAre you a resident of Mumbai?
Yes indeed, I’ve been a proud Bombaikar-then-forcibly-turned-Mumbaikar all my life. I grew up in what was considered the ends of the Earth in the 80s – Marol, Andheri East.

Tell us about your work.
‘I Take This Train Too’ is my first title. It’s a humour book that creatively highlights Mumbai’s local train travellers through caricatures and witty writing.

How often do you travel by trains?
Pretty much every day. I usually travel from Andheri to Churchgate, I work in the creative department at the ad agency Alok Nanda & Company.

How did ‘I Take This Train Too’ come about?
Travelling in the train gives you limited options for entertainment. Often I had nothing better to do than simply observe the people around me. It struck me that these characters were extremely intrinsic to the train journey. Eventually I started jotting down notes and making rough sketches, which finally turned into a full-fledged book. All the characters are based on people I’ve observed. I don’t personally know all of them (thankfully). From a ‘Jungian’ perspective I guess you could say I preferred to construct the archetypes of typical train characters. (That’s the limit of my psychology prowess.)

Which are your favourite characters?
From a creative perspective I really enjoyed drawing the ‘Starer’, ‘Fishy’, ‘Sliver’ and ‘Judger’ the most.

Mumbai Local Judger

How difficult is telling a story through illustrations vs textual storytelling?
I admire the skill of those who manage to create stories through only one medium. I prefer to use a combination of both visual and text, to form a synchronous piece of communication where one medium feeds off the other.

Someone at Comic Con came up to me and told me he already had a copy. He was a school teacher and had even used my book in a lecture he gave to his students about Mumbai city.

Tell me about the journey from jotting to getting published? What were the challenges you faced?
I found the bigger challenge came after getting published. Getting bookstores to stock your title can be a painful, tedious and frustrating effort. I published with ‘Filter Press’, a company promoted by Alok Nanda. While it is a highly supportive publishing company, it is still in a nascent stage. So being the new kid on the block we had to individually approach stores. I’m happy to report that every store that has shown faith in us has been rewarded in turn with consistent sales. Now we are looking to increase distribution as the book’s popularity grows.

Mumbai Local Starer

How has been the response to your book?
In terms of customer response it has been nothing short of fantastic. I never expected the kind of praise the book has garnered, so it always comes to me as a pleasant surprise. When it also picked up 2 awards at Kyoorius Designyatra Awards, I was thrilled. For me, the book was just about the sheer joy of being able to churn out a quality piece of work.

What’s the whackiest/most memorable review/comment you received?
Someone at Comic Con came up to me and told me he already had a copy. He was a school teacher and had even used my book in a lecture he gave to his students about Mumbai city. That was heartwarming. On the flip-side, another girl at Comic Con went through my book for a lengthy period and then accusingly asked me why I deal in negative stereotypes, before she strode off in disdain. I imagine this girl is now somewhere petitioning politicians to ban my book.

What’s next?
For my next book, I have been juggling with some ideas and only in the next few months will I have a clearer picture myself. For now I can confirm that it will still be centric to local observations and themes.

Here’s wishing the reluctant Mumbaikar but hardcore Bombaikar, all the best! You can find the copy of “I Take this Train too’ at Amazon.in and Tadpolestore. Read it already? Share your reviews below, we would love to hear from you.

Post By Garima Sharma (111 Posts)

Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.

Connect

Garima Sharma

Garima Sharma
Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.