Author Mayur Sudhakar Sarfare’s debut novel, The Tonic, is a page-turner
A convincing idea can strike you anytime. And believe it or not but the idea of The Tonic, Mayur Sudhakar Sarfare’s debut book, was conceived while the debut author was eating a certain food. “I experienced an ‘unfettered ecstasy’ after having consumed certain food items during a bus ride, and it led to the subsequent realisation of how it could be a force that could transform us and help us get rid of our greatest inhibitions,” enthuses Mayur, 31, a professor of Mass Media in Mumbai. The book is set in the year 1992 and is an emotionally wrenching tale of an unlikely friendship between Masher and Raem, two young outcasts with psychological deficiencies. Excerpts from the interview.
What inspired you to write The Tonic?
The core concept of the novel struck me nine years back on a seemingly unremarkable bus ride I had from my place of residence to the University where I was pursuing my Masters in Journalism. I was captivated by the conception that certain external stimulants could alter our consciousness to a point where they could embolden us in ways we could not imagine. And that got me writing about it and birthing characters with unique psychological deficiencies set against a historical backdrop where their lives would turn upside down with the arrival of such stimulants.
Throw some light on the name of the book.
The title - ‘The Tonic’ is a physical metaphor used for the powerful chocolate pills that act like a curative force bringing about a mental transformation of two mentally deficient adolescents facing constant failure and ridicule, helping them efface their deep-seated fears and attempt the unthinkable. The Tonic turns them from being misfits to stupefiers!
Take us through the plot.
Set against the backdrop of the 1992 Bombay riots, we see how the dreams of Masher and Raem, two young outcasts with psychological deficiencies, blossom with the arrival of a magical tonic but only for it to be disfigured over time. Decades later, their world unexpectedly collides with the life of Reymerg D’Souza, a powerful militant Atheist and a media tycoon, who has an ominous plan to cleanse the country from religion. The two tales separated by decades strangely begin to converge when an investigative journalist and a suspended cop partner together to expose Reymerg’s darker agendas as they uncover a deadly truth that binds the lives of these people in the most unexpected manner.
Where are the two main leads inspired from?
The honest answer to that question is that the two protagonists birthed from the darkest and brightest places of my life. The character of Masher has been moulded through my childhood experiences. I can always sense his pain, his mental battles, his despair, his burgeoning iconoclasm. I share many of his inhibitions to date. And as an adolescent, the protracted journey I made from being a hardcore theist to an agnostic and then eventually to an atheist is something that could be compared to that of Masher’s character. Whereas Raem was engendered by the fascination for otherworldly beauty and a streak of anglophilia that reside in me.
Most of the readers have fallen in love with the characters of ‘The Tonic’ and relished the uniqueness of the story. The reviews received till now have univocally suggested that the novel has all the ingredients required for a thrilling web-series, so I intend on working towards it next. Other than that, I have been working on my second novel, which is almost half-finished. The novel can be best described as a “romantic knot”, a romantic mystery with a powerful backdrop.