CHENNAI: If you are a fan of Vikram, then you shouldn’t miss out reading author-cum-dancer Tulsi Badrinath’s fourth book, Madras, Chennai and the Self: Conversations With the City. For, the book, which has been published by Pan Macmillan India, not just carries an interview with the actor but portrays the renowned actor in his candid self. In fact, Tulsi, whose first two works of fiction were long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize, she guffaws, “Vikram told me that he uses disguises to go wherever he wants in the city. And believe me, he said that it actually worked, that he never gets mobbed!” But ask her if he revealed what disguises he adorns and she becomes slightly reticent. “I have been sworn to secrecy. I mustn’t reveal about that,” she tells us with a smirk.
She reveals that it is basically a compilation of twelve interviews — Vikram’s being one of them. “If you look at the name of the book, it would be clear that I’ve basically tried to present the city through various ‘selves’. Each chapter is about one person, and I’ve gone about interviewing 12 people from various walks of life,” informs the 48-year-old Literature grad from Stella Maris College, who also holds an MBA from Ohio University. “And through each of these 12 persons, I’ve tried to portray the place they live in. Each person has a locus, a hub, and that’s where their life revolves. So it’s all about what they can bring to the book in terms of their experience,” she adds. The first chapter is an interview with K Seshadri, a temple priest who decided to master karate, an art form that’s more often than not something that priests stay away from. It also traces foodpreneur-politician Sarathbabu Elumalai’s rags to riches story, in another chapter, “All the people I’ve featured in the book are there for a reason.
They might not be successful in the literal sense but each of them has a story to share,” explains Tulsi, who wrote her first poem at the age of seven. “And their story tells one about their locality and how they perceive the city.
It also focuses on the transition of the city from Madras to Chennai,” she adds. And is there something that she’s trying to convey through the book? “I’ve shared my experiences as well,” she replies. “As far as conveying a message is concerned, the book only goes on to conclude that Chennai has always been open to change. People in this city have coped up with the change in times but without actually compromising on their values,” she signs off with a smile.