Book Talk


Kirtana Kumar

Benson Isaac


September 17th 2023.

An Evening of Bangalore Blues at Courtyard Koota

Kirtana Kumar  read extracts from her first book, Bangalore Blues, and Benson Isaac grilled her about the same! A free flowing conversation about literature, the city, the times and all that’s in-between.

Brief about Bangalore Blues:
Bangalore Blues covers a swathe of time, beginning in the 1960’s and ending in a post pandemic dystopia. Bangalore cantonment is the bell jar containing l’esprit du temps, a strange and colourful biome revealing a syncretic way of life and a wide palette of characters such as Mac the Knife, Mrs Gajapati Raju, the Vedamanikam Twins, Money-Pal, Jabeen Tehseena Noor Mirza, Ravi Kumar S and Annabel, among others, who through their voices and their choices describe a unique cosmopolitanism. These are the histories you’d have to look for in the pages of old diaries, handwritten recipes or love-letters, messages lying forgotten in vaults and notes in the margins of
the Gazetteer. What’s true and what’s not is up for grabs.

33 stories of a small-town cantonment on the cusp of exploding into a booming metropolis. And an essay that brings it all into perspective.

Some responses and reviews:
“Bangalore Blues is filled with the sweet nostalgia of a time when a generation and a city came of age. Kirtana Kumar deftly brings together myth and memory, legend and local colour, gossamer dreams and concrete realities. She allows us to cherish the past but reminds us that kindness, tolerance and generosity are choices that we can still make. The book is both an elegy and a
clarion call.”
– Arshia Sattar
Scholar / Translator

“A canvas coloured by the quirks and eccentricities of the free-spirited, wild and crazy humans who adventurously inhabited an older, sweeter Bangalore… seen through a sharply observant lens, one with a dark, jagged edge that stains nostalgia with reality.”
– Indira Chandrasekhar
Author of Polymorphism, Founder/Editor of Out of Print

“…unforgettable characters of all religions and ethnicities move fluidly between English and Bangalore polyglot slang, English/ Tamil/ Kannada. Though it is tethered by detailed physical markers this fictional world is brought to life by Kirtana’s delight and compassion for the comic ironies her characters face.”
– Deepa Dhanraj
Documentary Film-Maker

“This intricate tapestry of stories reaches back in time, effortlessly leaping over the glitzy stores, restaurants, and celebrities that punctuate the city of today, resurrecting a Bangalore in an era where life appears simple but is deep. It sketches a city characterised by local neighbourhoods woven with the eccentricities of people you personally know by name and history and a quietude granting your inner imagination space to shape your life.”
– Prem Chandavarkar
Architect / Writer

Kirtana Kumar  is an Indian actor, director, and film-maker based in Bengaluru. She writes on theatre and film and has been published in various national papers and magazines. She has a master’s degree in European Classics and American Literature. She has received several major awards and fellowships including from the McArthur Foundation and India Foundation for the Arts for her contribution to theatre & film. She was educated at Sophia High School, Bangalore. She is a trustee of Women Artists’ Group, runs the year long Theatre Lab for children and is the co-owner of Infinite Souls Farm, a rural artists residency in Bangalore.