A conversation with Harshwardhan Patil about his book The Indian Chaplin brought a lot to surface. From the enigma of mime as an art to the subtle talent of writing. Harshwardhan Patil’s ‘The Indian Chaplin’.
“Tell us something about yourself and when did you first realize you want to be a writer?”
Born and brought up in the small town of north Maharashtra Jalgaon, I always had the craze of reading novels and watching movies since childhood. It was in the third year of my engineering when I decided to be a writer and a comic because I was sure that I will not pursue my career in Civil Engineer. I figured out when I appeared for a short story contest, and I was supposed to write something around 10 pages, but I was loving writing it more, my rhythm was good and I was enjoying the phase, so then I decided I will be a writer. As a screenwriter the people who dragged me in this profession is Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, I never went to film school, I just read there all screenplay’s and that was enough for me to know the details, both of them are genius. And as a novelist, I was always attracted by work of J.K. Rowling, phenomenal.
“Tell us about your book – ‘The Indian Chaplin’”
The Indian Chaplin is a multiple genre story of Romance, Drama, Satire, and theater, set in a non-linear pattern of storytelling. The story is about Rudved willing to get chance in theater industry which was full with icons at that time, he thought of bringing mime to Indian theaters in the attire of Chaplin which has never been happened before. In his journey is of mix emotions with his ruthless guardian DK who always forces him to push next level, his rival Malhar who was a mono-drama artist and as good as him, his girlfriend Sakshi, so in all this tense and emotional situation it’s about Rudved chasing his dream to become the biggest stage-artist of the nation while dealing with his personal problems.
“What made you write on this topic?”
My first project as a novel was ‘Phantom Mind’, but back those days, not only as a novelist I was also a standup comedian who did 18 open mics, and five cultural events show, and a struggling screenwriter for serials writing a comedy series as well. So, at that time I was facing a lot a problem, whether it’s because of relationship, or family problems because no middle-class family will want their child to become full-time screenwriter, novelist, and a comic, so all this made my job really very difficult to write comedy, I was very sad. So, then a thought came to mind, a one-liner, A comedian who makes people happy despite his own life is a misery, a beautiful concept and that attracted me very much. But I didn’t want the protagonist to be a standup comedian as well, I was thinking for something else, and I got it, that was ‘mime artist’, and I thought a novel on mime artist’s personal life will be very emotional, as well funny, a mime artist who is a replicate of Charles Chaplin.
“Where do you get the information and material for the book”
In India, very few places Mime is performed as per the western country so the getting information was difficult. To know more about theater artist their backstage works, preparations, I was part of few theater groups as a helper, I did few theater workshops, and the most amazing part is I learnt what is a ‘stage play’ while working in theater and wrote one, and there was competition eNatya Sanhita, and I won the best stage play for the English category for my play ‘Phantom Mind’ in 2017, so that was very funny but boosted up my confidence when I saw the shortlisted guys were talented and famous stage play writers. By that time I completed three forms of storytelling, novel, screenplay, and stage-play, by age of 23, at present I’m 24.
“Name one thing you learned while creating your book.”
I learned to be a patient, because The Indian Chaplin was completed in 2016 December, and it got published in 2018 March 2. At the same time, I become a lot more stronger as a person, because Indian Chaplin also as a screenplay was appreciated by many producers, but due to out of the box experimental subject I always have to face the sad part, so taking rejections and moving on made me a better artist. While the Chaplin was looking for publishers, that was the worst phase of my career, because I was not getting any work as a screenwriter, so eventually financial crisis for sure, which increases the family pressure, and then followed by the tough part a breakup from a long relationship, so this book was more of my buddy which pulled me out of the darkness, and that’s why it will always have a special place in my heart, no matter how many novel/screenplays I write in future.
“Do you have any suggestions for me to become a better writer?”
Of course I have a suggestion for everybody to write something because everybody has a moment to share, and writer is the one who writes the characters which they wish they could become, so it’s also a nice way of completing your fantasy. But at the same time, as per my opinion that writing should be never taken as a hobby, it is a passion which requires self-discipline to seat on typewriter three hours a day, so if you have that stamina please go for it and enjoy.
“After this, are there any plans for your next book. If yes, then on what topic will it be?”
Currently, I’m busy with a feature film screenplay, which will be packed up till June end I guess. But I will go for my first novel ‘Phantom Mind’ a crime thriller, once other works are finished, and it will be completed by mid of next year, and the other thing I don’t know If it’s a good idea or not but I was thinking of publishing one of my screenplays, by August 2018. I don’t know in India whether people will love to read the screenplay or not, but if they do read I’m sure they will enjoy it, but in case that doesn’t work I might also think of it publishing it as a short story, that will be a good idea. By the way, I have four feature film screenplays ready in my laptop hard disk, willing to get producers and I’m sure they will find their way in upcoming years because they are way too good and I’m confident about my every concept and story.