‘Goa can become the literary capital of India’

BY ARTI DAS | NT NETWORK
Mumbai based writer, Jerry Pinto is releasing his latest book, ‘Leela - A Patchwork Life’, based on actress of yesteryears, Leela Naidu, on December 13 at the ongoing Goa Arts and Literary Festival 2010. While speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’ he spoke about his book, writing and Goa

Jerry Pinto, a Mumbai-based writer who is nine-book-old loves to explore and write about non-mainstream people as they are a bundle of surprises and that fascinates him as a writer.
He is now ready with a new book, ‘Leela - A Patchwork Life’, based on actress of yesteryears, Leela Naidu, who passed away in 2009.
It will be formally released during the ongoing Goa Arts and Literary Festival at International Centre Goa, Dona Paula.
However, this is not the first time he is writing a book on an actress as way back in 2006 he wrote a book on Bollywood’s original item girl, Helen, titled as ‘Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb.’ The book won him the Best Book on Cinema Award at the 54th National Film Awards.
Another interesting fact is that both these books on actress are released in Goa. “It is just a sweet co-incidence and not planned,” says Pinto.  He further adds, “She is also the daughter of Goa as she got married to Dom Moraes, who was from Goa.”
Even though one may get an impression that Jerry is predominantly a writer on Indian actresses, it is not the case. “The book on Helen came about as a result of the minorities or the marginalised are treated by the society and the industry. On the other hand, Leela called me up and wanted me to write a biography on her life. So, the book is based entirely on the conversations I had with her. It is the result of 2000 hours of talking and 15 drafts. It is the story of her life, the way she wanted it told,” explained Pinto.
He also expressed that the mainstream actors are not as interesting as these actors. “Stars are self-obsessed, impolite and also tend to have crafted stories ready and there are no surprises.”
For Jerry writing about Leela Naidu was an experience - not only writing about her career but also exploring her as a person. “Her life is more interesting than I had imagined. She got married at the age of 16, had twins by 17, at the age of 18 got divorced and by 19 she won a National Award for her film, ‘Anuradha.’ She saw all that a woman otherwise sees in 25 years of her life in such a short span of time,” elaborated Pinto.
Leela also had a portfolio of experiences she worked as a radio producer in Hong Kong, film producer for the Indian government, did a film for Air India and even worked as line producer for the French filmmaker, Luis Malle. “Her life was not restricted to cinema and was full of interesting experiences. Also the fact that she came from a special family, her father, Dr P Ramiah Naidu was a celebrated scientist while her mother was French. Many say that she had a wasted life but I totally disagree,” claims Pinto.
Jerry is not very interested in writing about today’s actors as they don’t have the came charisma. “Today’s actors sell underwear, dance for weddings, and charge to open shops. So, they don’t have much to tell also. Also I don’t have access to Bollywood,” adds Pinto.
When asked if he is interested in doing a trilogy, he states, “There is a faint possibility that I may write on Waheeda Rehman. But, she may not speak about Guru Dutt. The problem in India is that we are afraid of the truth.”
Speaking about the writing scenario he mentioned that in India there is enough respect for writers and writing. “In our country writing is Saraswati and that’s why where there is Saraswati there is no Laxmi. But, I am happy with my writing career and have no complains,” elaborates Pinto.
Jerry who also has roots in Goa explains that in Goa writing is very vibrant except for poetry. He adds, “Goa can become the literary capital of India because it is a very tolerant place and this gives the writer freedom. It gives him that creative space and that is the reason so many writers are settling in Goa. Now it is very important that the younger generation protect this ideology.”
Jerry is ready to launch an anthology on Bollywood that will be released during the Jaipur Literary Festival. He is also writing a novel on his family. “It is a blatantly autobiographical and, yes, there is mention of Goa,” concludes Pinto. 
Goa Arts and Literary Festival 2010 organised by The International Centre Goa in partnership with the Sahitya Akademi, Goa Writers Group, Goa Konkani Akademi, Gomantak Marathi Academy, Alliance Française, CLP Instituto Camões and ‘The Navhind Times’ is on from December 12 to 14. On December 13 at 6:30 p.m., Jerry Pinto will release the book, ‘Leela: A Patchwork Life.’ It will be then followed by a conversation with Rahul Srivastava