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US scriptwriter makes India debut with Bollywood kid books

Madhusree Chatterjee

New York-based screenplay writer, musician, storyteller and artist Nico Raposo is surfing the Hindi film industry for stories. He has debuted in India with young adult fiction, "Bollywood Knights", a serial detective saga from Mumbai's filmdom.

The first two of the four part series - "Shoot the Peacock" and "Shoot the Crow" - arrived at the bookstores in the country last week. Two more books are in the works, Raposo said. "Bollywood Knights" has been published by Penguin Books India.

Raposo, the son of famous US musician of Portuguese origin, Joseph Guilherme Raposo, better known as Joe Raposo, says his Bollywood whodunits have been inspired by his India connection.

"I have Indian nieces and nephews (my sister-in-law is from Bangalore). We spend every holiday together and talk about things, including Bollywood music...," Raposo said from Mumbai, where he released his book on Monday.

"I have watched probably 100 Bollywood films. I read every book on Mumbai. I have travelled extensively here in India...Why not India?" Raposo said.

"India is the most exciting place on earth...it (good things) is all happening here," Raposo said.

Raposo, who lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley, says he hails from a long line of "storytellers, musicians and entertainers". Nico has written 15 feature film screenplays, three books, seven plays and dozens of teleplays. He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards.

He has written the screenplay for the movie "Birds" and one of his plays, "Captured Clause", was received to critical acclaim. He has written for several children's serials, including the popular "Arthur".

Raposo says the first book of the series, "Shoot the Peacock", is about 17-year-old Raj Kapoor, the only son of a Bollywood superstar, whose life becomes complicated after a murder.

Preeti Shabbir, a beautiful starlet, is almost killed in a suspicious accident on the set. Raj and his friends, Nagi and Madhuri, resolve to find the would-be killer and stop him before he tries to finish the job. The story weaves fiction with facts in the backdrop of real-life Bollywood.

In the second book in the series, "Shoot the Crow", the teenaged detectives Raj, Nagi and Madhuri are drawn into a web of deceit when Ameeta Soares, a rising Bollywood star, disappears from her Malabar Hill apartment.

The books are a shade autobiographical. "I grew up with everyone asking me what was it like being the son of a famous father. My father was very successful. Like every teenager, I asked myself whether I was a good person or a bad person," Raposo said.

The introspection gave him the perspective for the book.

Raposo's last screenplay, "The Play", has been made into a movie, he said.

"It is still being screened at festivals," he said.

Raposo said the hardest thing he wrote was actually for an Indian filmmaker and producer, Govind Menon.

"He wanted to do a remake of an American film from the 50s transplanted to Afghanistan and hired me and another American to write the screenplay. It had to do with an Afghan woman escaping from Kandahar," he said.

Raposo is working on a new screenplay for kids with a message against carrying guns to school.

"I love television writing, but I don't believe in television for young people. It does not help children's imagination to grow - particularly for young adults. Life is not so easy (as in television)," Raposo said.

"The most interesting thing is reading. You have to construct the abstract character in your mind (while reading) - it strengthens the mind creatively. One needs to exercise the mind," Raposo said.

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