Mahul Brahma gets talking about his upcoming book Dark Luxe, and his amazing journey delves deep into the dark side of luxury
FORMER senior journalist turned communicator, Mahul Brahma, head corporate communication & Branding, mjunction (50/50 joint venture between Tata & Sail) has introduced himself as an author, actor and director. His first short film Elixer was selected in Cannes film festival in the short film category. His first book Decoding Luxe has received praises from various eminent industry leaders. Besides the author’s upcoming book, we talked about his just-released debut feature film as an actor Hoytoh Manush Noi, his directorial debut Post-It! and Golf. Excerpts from an interview:
Why Dark Luxe?
When we think of luxury we always think of dazzle, but we never even touch upon the darkness that hides behind this luxe. It is always about glam and glitz. Behind this razzle-dazzle, there is another life. A life filled with lust, hatred, jealousy, anger. Luxury remains a silent witness to that darkness. Luxury is just a silent witness to the depth of darkness of human hearts.
Dark Luxe is not about dreams, but nightmares. It is about those realities that safely hide behind the veil of luxe. These 13 short stories are from the darkest, bottomless pits of hell. These first-hand tales of horror are by stuff luxury is made of, straight from their heart, leaving a trail of blood.
Mr Ratan Tata has given his blessings for the book and Dr Bibek Debroy has written the foreword.
Is this non-fiction like Decoding Luxe? Tell us a little more about the thought process behind it.
I realised with dazzle, comes the darkness – Yin and Yang. It is the world’s way of maintaining the order. After a lot of research and interviews, I came across shocking tales of death, blood and gore – associated with luxury. I realised we are only limited by our imagination to fathom the extent a man can go in his pursuit of darkness.
Luxe or dazzle acts as a cover, a shield to keep this dark life of us, humans at bay. From the glossy magazine pages with “price on request” tag, Dark Luxe takes readers to the other end of the spectrum.
These horror stories are pure work of fiction and are crafted as tales from the proverbial horse’s mouth. They are shared (in the stories) by the most sought-after and elite products that the crème-de-la-crème brands showcase to their exclusive patrons.
These are the stories that buried deep into the Mediterranean or in the sanctum-sanctorum of our hearts. These stories tell you the tale of how we humans are all the same in our core, dominated by one or many of the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.
Whether it is the Princess Cut Tiffany ring or the Rolls Royce Phantom or the Rolex watch or the luxury yacht or a Dom Perignon vintage champagne – all of them will share their tales as a silent witness that are far from the dazzle they exude.
These short stories about The Dark Life of Luxe are figments of my imagination but not limited by it.
We heard you are playing the ghost in your debut Bengali feature film, Hoyto Manush Noi. Could you tell us more about your experience?
Well as far as my role in the feature film Hoytoh Manush Noi (HMN) is concerned, as the title suggests I may or may not be a human so I may be a ghost – you will have to watch the film to find it out.
The director duo – Koustav and Arunava, thought I was the best choice for the role. The character is that of a corporate mid-senior level IT professional. He is very sharp but has his own secrets. He participates selectively in the story-telling sessions of his fellow colleagues (played by Preetha, Sweta and Mouparna). This is the spinal story in the horror anthology. My character has a sense of humour and at times he is flirtatious with his retorts. There is, however, a story brewing in this cab ride which the audience will know at the end…a twist in the tale. I am thankful to the entire team of HMN, especially the directors and producer for trusting me with this key role in their debut feature film.
You have made your directorial debut with micro short film, Post-It! How was the experience? I have heard you are playing the ghost here, again. I believe it has been officially selected for two film festivals in the US.
Direction is a different ballgame altogether. And yes, it was a surreal experience directing a ghost, and yes played by yours truly. For Post-it!, the thought had germinated in my mind two years back at the Cannes Film Festival. The first cut of the story was written mid-air — on a boarding pass as that was the only piece of paper available. This is a micro short film of 3 min 50 seconds and it has made it to the official selections: Best Shorts Competition, California, Global Film Festival Awards (US) and Calcutta International Cult Film Festival (Best Mobile Film and Best Debut Filmmaker). We are expecting some more this month. This is a unique love story where the two lovers are separated by death but they find a unique way to communicate – through Post-Its. This film captures a day in their life over a fight on which film they will watch together – François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player or Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon.
Sabiya Sinha Roy has shot the movie with an iPhone and edited it in iMovies. She is also the co-producer of the film.
You head corporate communications and branding for a Tata group company mjunction. How do you make time for writing, acting, directing, etc,?
God has been very kind. Time management holds the key.When I am wearing my hat of a brand custodian, I only think about my organisation and how I can keep its brand positioning as a market leader in B2B ecommerce in India. I write every morning for at least one hour, except on the days I play golf. These writings are my thoughts, mostly random which I later revisit and give shape. My books, my articles, my stories are a result of that discipline that I have cultivated over the past 10 years. Creativity without discipline is bound to fail. My corporate experience helps me strategically structure my thoughts and ideas. I look at giving shape to my thoughts and writings, whether in the form of a book or a film, as projects and so they have their timelines, deliverables and Gantt charts. My orgnisation as well as CEO Vinaya Varma has been very supportive so that has been a great advantage.
Talking about golf, how is it picking up?
Golf is like meditation. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It gives you clarity and focus. If your mind is not clear on the course no matter how skilled or gifted, you are you are bound to lose. So golf is like a training that helps you clear your thoughts and focus on the game.
After quite some time I have been able to bring down my handicap to an all-time low. Now my aim is to retain my handicap.