Source : Hindustan Times
The superhero protagonist in comedian Sorabh Pant’s new book is immortal, but he would much rather die. This sets the tone for the rest of novel, which features plenty of fantastical events.
The year is 2019. India is in turmoil. Tensions with China are at an all-time high. There are five Prime Ministers in the country – each heading the government a day of the week – but all they do is build statues. Sound bizarre, right?. Enter Arjun Singh, an immortal six-foot humanoid — chartered account by day, demigod by night. This is where the plot of the humour novel, Pawan, takes a sci-fi turn. Singh is forced to fight a war when all he wants is to do taxes and drink rum.
Pawan is the third fiction book by popular stand-up comedian Sorabh Pant (ex-cofounder of the East India Comedy). It’s set in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, in an alternate reality. It also weaves in brief appearances by a myriad of unlikely personalities including Justin Beiber, Chairman Mao, Mahatma Gandhi and Hafiz Saeed. In fact, the novel opens with a prologue by Lord Mountbatten. “The book borrows from real world, the way Harry Potter or Dr Who does. Lots of absurd things happen,” says Pant. “Essentially, Pawan is about the futility of war.”
Released last month, Pawan was in the works for five years. “Initially, the plot was much more simplistic. The protagonist was fun, not brooding and cynical as he is now. The book needed time and maturity. Also, the sheer amount of research that went into the book meant it took a while to come together,” Pant says. Since Pawan has political undercurrents, Pant read up about the history of Tibet, the Indo-China strife, and also sought to understand China’s points of view on a number of matters.
Pant tackles the heavy-duty themes by making sure each page is loaded with satire and jokes. It packs in some dark themes. “I think the dark themes give it more bite. Also, there are certain parts of the book which are emotional and poignant.”
All of Pant’s works have been under the humour genre so far. And he intends to keep it that way. “I don’t see myself writing something that’s not funny,” he says.