It is a strange concept if you hear of it the first time round. I did not find it strange though. To me, it felt just as normal as eating, when I thought of it. It is about being sketched in the nude. That is what this book is about – aptly titled, “Conversations in the Nude” by Mihir Srivastava.
I had my designs on the book from the time I heard of it and I could not wait to get my hands on it. “Conversations in the Nude” might start on a quick note, but after a while, you just have to stop reading, close the book and think a little.
I had to do that only because the book is intense and at the same time, there were moments I thought the author was trying too hard. I was proved wrong eventually, but the thought did cross my mind. Some readers could also be quick to judgment – but I think it is about opening your mind and reading the book – after all it is about sketching nudes and Mihir’s experiences around them.
The people the author meets are spectacularly different – from a wrestler to a hermit who has renounced the world (and not so) to friends who want to pose and people who hesitate and yet decide to pose to celebrities as well. For me, while reading the book, what stood out the most was the different reactions Mihir had to face, as and when he propositioned people to pose nude for him. I think that in all totality, reflects the times we live in and how we behave and think when confronted with situations that have the so-called high moral ground attached to them.
“Conversations in the Nude” does not try to make a statement. It just says what it has to – both from the perspective of a writer and that of an artist. That is what I loved most about the book. Mihir is caught sometimes – between perception, judgment and also opinions of others. Maybe that is what actually allows him to sketch the way he does.
The sketches in the book are another story. I saw them while reading the book and also looked at them without going through the text. There is this rawness to the sketches which perhaps defines the entire book. There would also be I assume a certain nonchalant attitude to have to be able to sketch the way Mihir does – the sense to abandon all emotion and desire and sometimes also giving in.
“Conversations in the Nude” is a different book. It is a book which must be read without prejudice. It is an experience that will make you look at things differently – the body, the mind and maybe even the soul.