Theatre actor Aditya Garg turns author; dabbles in magic realism

Narrated in a unique story-poem-story style, Aditya’s debut novel ‘Mrigtrishna’ traces the surreal encounters of eight-year-old Pratham

Aditya Garg; (right) the cover of his debut novel ‘Mrigtrishna’ designed by artist Ankita Alemona

By Reema Gowalla

Stage acting to writing plays is probably a likely transition, but magic realism came more naturally to Aditya Garg. “I mostly worked on the manuscript in 2019, and it found a publisher in 2021,” says the actor, whose debut novel ‘Mrigtrishna’ dabbles in literature and verse to narrate the dream-like life experiences of eight-year-old Pratham.

Nostalgia and imagination set the tone for Pratham’s story, who ‘sees snow in the kitchen’ and ‘starts a conversation with a butterfly on a train’. Written in Hindi, Aditya uses a distinct story-poem-story narrative technique in the book. The tale takes you back to the Delhi of 1983–84, when television was slowly entering households and nobody had ever heard of mobile phones or the internet. The protagonist’s frequent travels to Rajasthan and the time he spends there with his grandmother form integral portions of the plot.

Illustration by artist Shubham Acharya

Illustration by artist Shubham Acharya

So, does ‘Mrigtrishna’ draw inspiration from the author’s own life experiences? “It’s hard to say. Pratham is a curious boy with an overactive imagination, which he uses as an escape mechanism. Yes, his psyche reflects a bit of my personality, but the ability to look beyond the mundane and create a new world every time he delves deeper into things, is his own,” explains Aditya, adding, “Rajasthan and its myriad folk arts, old forts, lakes and temples are pivotal characters in the book. It’s a reminder of simpler times.” The story is told from the perspective of a child, and there’s a constant effort to humanise the role of the narrator.

Known for his work in plays like ‘Stand on the Street’, ‘Under Pressure’ and more recently ‘Binder’, Aditya takes interest in reading books by Stephen Hawking, particularly those on string theory and spacetime. He also confesses that yesteryears’ popular American television host Mister Rogers has for a long time stirred his passion to write about childhood, while his urge to investigate the surreal world comes from him listening to folk tales.

Published by Rajmangal Publishers, the cover design of ‘Mrigtrishna’ is done by artist Ankita Alemona, while it is punctuated by a string of evocative illustrations by artist Shubham Acharya.

Cut to his upcoming projects, Aditya is working on a new play in Bengaluru, which is likely to be announced later this year. Since September 2020, he has also been conducting an online workshop on acting and the art of storytelling, called ‘Jebkatre’.

The Kindle edition of ‘Mrigtrishna’ is currently available on Amazon.

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