“We wanted to make the definitive crime comic about Encounter Cops – blending fact and fiction” Saurav Mohapatra reveals the true story of Mumbai Confidential
Last week saw the brilliant Mumbai Confidential from Archaia Entertainment released as a complete collection on both ComiXology and as a hardback graphic novel. This brilliantly gritty, tense crime noir set on the monsoon lashed streets of Mumbai is a fantastic take on the traditional crime noir. With it’s story of the unorthodox and often immoral Encounter Cops – police charged with taking down India’s mobs and turning to crime themselves – Mumbai Confidential oozes corruption, violence and duplicity and makes for a fantastic read. To find out more we contacted creators Saurav Mohaptra and Vivek Shinde to get low down on the world of Mumbai Confidential.
SM: As I’ve said before – MC is a ‘love song’. Both Vivek and I are fans of pulp crime and crime-noir and we wished to take the very Indian phenomenon of “Encounter Cops” and make something gritty out of it. So, yeah! We wished to make the definitive crime comic about Encounter Cops – blending fact and fiction. The goal was to (in a way) create the movie we always wished to see. The story is ficitional, as are the characters. The backdrop of Encounter Cops and their activities has a kernel of truth, but again the goal here was to create an entertaining story.
How true are the Encounter Cops as a phenomenon? And how did that inform your decisions making on the Good Cop Bad Cop story arc? Was it important to make to realistic?
SM: Encounter Cops were a praetorian body created by Mumbai Police to stem crime and they went around executing criminals. Indian pop culture has glamorized them into vigilantes. My goal was to strip off the glamour and really look into what it’d be like to be a person who shoots another person in cold blood. Rather than realistic, our goal was to present a “from the inside out” perspective. Remember, we as humans have great ability of self-justification. So I sort of wished to take the “Nuremberg defence” that is often cited vis a vis Encounter Cops and turn it on its head.
Why set your story in Mumbai and what do you think setting brings to the story that it wouldn’t have elsewhere?
SM: It wouldn’t work anywhere else. It’s an intrinsically Indian story, the intersection of “Encounter Cops”, Gangsters and Bollywood. It was my attempt to place the city of Mumbai as an implicit character in the narrative.
It has a really classic noir quality to it so I assume you big fans of crime novels and comics, but what are the books and titles that inspire you most? (It really reminded me of Sin City and also Ed Brubaker’s Criminal as well)
SM: Yeah, Criminal and Sin City were big influences. As was Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central and Brian Azarello’s 100 Bullets. I’ve been a big fan of Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer series and the writings of James Elroy. Hong Kong crime flicks also were a big inspiration (especially movies of Johnny To like Exiled). Works of Anurag Kashyap (the Indian writer of Satya and director of Black Friday, Gangs Of Wasseypur) had a very big influence. There are a couple of nod/nod wink/wink references in the book to some of my favorite hindi crime movies like Ab Tak Chhappan, Satya, Deewar, Zanzeer etc.
As well as the main narrative you have interludes with other characters drawn by different artists. Was that a conscious choice to develop the series, or as a necessity to get the main pages done to schedule? And how did you get in touch with various other artists and how much input do they have into the stories?
SM: When Vivek and I started making the book, most of our friends (other comic book creators) acted as “focus group/early readers”. They really dug the gritty crime noir setting of the story (kind of a first for Indian Comics) and started firing in sketches, pinups and what not! 🙂 The shorts were essentially snippets from the character/world bible I wrote as part of the pitch. I wrote the stories and the artists drew them. We had this huge pool of stories and each picked a story that they liked.
I love Vivek’s artwork, I’d love to know what he uses and who his inspirations are for the work? As I said in my review Dave McKean and Bill Sienkiwicz as well as Jae Lee seemed to come to my mind.
SM: Vivek is an amazing artist. He idolizes Ashley Wood. He did MC art digitally as greyscale wash paintings which I then colored. His blog is at http://vivekshinde.blogspot.com