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Something majestic about him

SRAVASTI DATTA
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EVENT Zac O’Yeah’s Mr. Majestic is a noir with huge doses of humour. It was launched at the British Library recently

A very personal experienceZac set his story in Majestic because that’s where he arrived as a touristPhoto: Bhagya Prakash k.
A very personal experienceZac set his story in Majestic because that’s where he arrived as a touristPhoto: Bhagya Prakash k.

Zac O’ Yeah once was surrounded by a group of men while he was walking down Bangalore. “I had only 10,000 rupees in my pocket.” The men menacingly asked Zac to give them… 20 rupees. That was the only experience Zac had with “crime” in Bangalore. The protagonist of his latest novel Mr. Majestic, The Tout Of Bengaluru, Hari Majestic, though a tout, also has an endearing streak. “The book is quite character driven. Hari Majestic is at the centre and has mad adventures in Bangalore. Mr. Majestic is the story of a slightly shady character who hangs out in Majestic. He is concerned about his karma, so he does a little bit of good to even things out,” said Zac at the launch of his book, organised by Toto Funds The Arts in British Library recently.

At the launch, Zac was in conversation with Sugata Srinivasaraju, editor of Vijaya Karnataka . He described Zac’s novel as a gripping read, adding it was “a humane book, and not just a crime fiction”. Zac agreed, saying: “It is meant to be a page turner. It is also at one level, a literary experiment.”

It took Zac 5 years to complete Mr. Majestic , which he “tweaked and improved” as he wrote. For his research, Zac referred to crime reports in newspaper articles and observations of the city that he explored on foot to see what different parts of the city looked like. Srinivasaraju added that he loved the one-liners in the book. They next spoke of why Zac set his book in Majestic. “There are very few Indian detective novels with Indian settings. Thrillers in India are modelled on Western thrillers.”

“Majestic is overwhelming and a place that upwardly-mobile Bangaloreans would not like to associate with. It’s not a Kannadiga area, it’s dominated by Marwaris. The British, after the defeat of Tipu Sultan, replaced the Muslim traders with Marwari traders. Why didn’t you set your book in City Market?” Srinivasaraju asked Zac, who replied, “Majestic has always been an intensely personal vision of urban India. This is the place I came to when I first arrived in Bangalore as a tourist 21 years ago.” The city, according to Zac, is best discovered through the stories of its citizens.

“Do you believe in karma, like the protagonist?” Srinivasaraju. “I believe it was my karma to make Bangalore home,” said a smiling Zac.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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