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Anita Nair’s third instalment in the Borei Gowda series digs into a murky world of violence 

Bangalore-based Nair who shone in the literary scene with 'The Better Man and Ladies Coupé' that has been translated into 21 languages and whose literary oeuvre is a varied mix of short stories and poetry apart from novels, talks about internalising the character of inspector Gowda and Hot Stage

Farah Khatoon Published 29.02.24, 11:17 AM
Author Anita Nair with her book Hot Stage

Author Anita Nair with her book Hot Stage Harper Collins

With Cut Like Wound in 2012, Anita Nair stepped into the world of crime thriller and created the sharp sleuth Borei Gowda and the eponymous series. Chain of Custody followed and saw Gowda once again using his skills to unravel a bigger crime story infesting the urban setup of Bangalore. The third instalment, Hot Stage, sees Gowda taking a greater risk to expose a crime nexus and bring the perpetrators behind the murder of Professor Mudgood, a well-known rationalist and fervent critic of right-wing forces in India, to the book. Bangalore-based Nair who shone in the literary scene with The Better Man and Ladies Coupé that has been translated into 21 languages and whose literary oeuvre is a varied mix of short stories and poetry apart from novels, talks about internalising the character of inspector Gowda and Hot Stage. A t2 interview

The Borei Gowda series has clicked well with the readers. Did you anticipate it to become so popular when you created it?

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Not at all. Even for me, a serial genre-bender, my detour into noir fiction took me by surprise. Writing crime was a complete departure from anything I had written before and so it began as a challenge I wanted to grapple with. It was only as I drew to the end of Cut Like Wound, the first book, that I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to bid adieu to the character of Borei Gowda for good. I had internalised him to such an extent that there was no way I could stop. Fortunately, it seemed that readers too were just as fascinated by Borei Gowda and his doings as I was and that was very encouraging for me to keep writing about Gowda’s life and cases.

This is the third book in the series and we see the inspector taking more risk. How has Gowda evolved in this instalment of the book?

In Hot Stage, Inspector Gowda has been promoted and is now ACP Gowda, who realises that nothing has changed except his designation. This makes him even more hungry to take on cases even if it means having to work with the Central Crime Bureau. His passion for what he does is even more keener, making him take risks that could end his career and ruin his relationships as well.

Were there any challenges in sketching him as his popularity grew among the readers?

One of the joys of creating a series is being able to trace the evolution of the character over several books. Since the evolution is very organic, Borei Gowda’s popularity as a character makes no difference as I work on the character arc.

Hot Stage starts with the murder of a professor who was a right-wing critic...

Hot Stage begins with what seems like a political murder and next it suggests real estate-linked crime but instead leads to a murky dangerous world of violence and money. There is also a parallel storyline of Bhuvana from Cut Like Wound playing cat and mouse with Gowda. To reveal anything more would be to give away the surprise.

Is the urban crime in Hot Stage inspired by any real-life crime?

It is based on first-hand information from someone involved in that dark dangerous world. It began as a careless titbit during a casual conversation and I pounced on it. This led me to explore it deeper and write about it.

What next after Hot Stage?

I have been commissioned to work on a story-film script and that’s what is in the books.

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