The Word

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By Isha Manchanda

Rajat Kapoor Filmmaker and Actor

A book that means a lot to you?
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I couldn’t put the book down, and had to finish the big fat thing in five days flat! There is no poetics in his writing but it’s the obsessive nature of his characters that I like the most about his books.

An underrated book?
Kaise Kissago by Manohar Shyam Joshi is the best book I’ve read in ages. If he wrote in English he’d be another Salman Rushdie. Since he writes in Hindi, he isn’t recognised for his works the same way. His characters and the way he structures his works is brilliant.

An overrated book?
I think most books are overrated.

One author or genre you like?
I’m not really into genres. However, two authors I’d say have influenced me the most are Gabriel García Márquez and Milan Kundera. I first read Kundera when I was 25 years old and went on to read all his books. I like his sense of humor and the way he mixes eroticism and politics. The irony and the shifting perspectivesin his books have, I think, found a way into my films.

Your favourite character?
Michael Corleone from Mario Puzo’s Godfather trilogy. I’m not sure if it’s because of the book or the film but I read the book much before I watched the film. For a long time, I thought I was Michael Corleone.

Last book read?
Mohammad Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes. I liked most of the book but was disappointed by the end. The novel, in places, reminded me of Gabriel García Márquez. In fact, he even mentions Chronicle of a Death Foretold at some point.

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