Head: Mahul Brahma’s book ‘Dark Luxe’ exposes darkness behind dazzle
Subhead: Luxury commentator and author shares his thoughts on the sequel of “Luxe Duology” and how he aims at expanding the scope of luxury beyond “price tags” and making it more inclusive
Tell us about Dark Luxe?
Dark Luxe is an anthology of 13 short stories and a tailpiece on luxury. It is the second book of the “Luxe Duology” after “Decoding Luxe”. From the glossy magazine pages with “price on request” tag, “Dark Luxe” takes readers to the other end of the spectrum. These horror stories are pure work of fiction, though not limited by it. These stories are buried deep into the Mediterranean or in the sanctum-sanctorum of our hearts. Dark Luxe tells you the tale of how we humans are all the same in our core, dominated by one or many of the seven deadly sins.
How did you select the luxe products for the stories/book?
The luxury products in these stories are the protagonists and they share their version of the event in which they have been made an accessory or in some cases they have acted on their own accord. So selection of products boiled down to the choice of protagonists, and here it was a mix of imagination and reality. In some cases the stories led to the protagonist, in others the protagonists led to the stories. Whether it is the Princess Cut Tiffany ring or the Rolls Royce Phantom or the Rolex watch or the luxury yacht or a Dom Perignon vintage champagne – all of them share their tales as a silent witness that are far from the dazzle they exude.
What about the Luxe Duology?
The “Luxe Duology” is the two part series of my books on luxury – Decoding Luxe and Dark Luxe. This is the first duology of its kind on luxury internationally. The interesting part is that while the first is non-fiction the second is fiction. So it is not like a conventional story in two parts but a story none the less, unconventional and thrilling wherein it completes the entire spectrum of luxury – from dazzle to darkness.
My objective with the Luxe Duology is to expand the scope of luxury beyond “price tags” and make it more inclusive so that more and more people can start understanding, appreciating and accepting luxury as an integral part of their life and not shun it as something that belongs to another world.
Is the dark side of luxury a figment of your imagination or is it for real?
Luxe or dazzle has to have a dark side, it is like Yin and Yang. I have interviewed many luxury brand owners and custodians as well as members from royalty during my stint with New York Times when I was editing a luxury supplement. During these chats I have heard, off the record, numerous stories, be it an espionage between two luxury giants over a design for a fashion line or bloodshed between brothers over a piece of priceless jewel. However, these stories are very well guarded secrets and become a folklore, either corporate or royalty. It was then I thought that with ‘Decoding Luxe’ if I am showcasing the evolution of luxe, with the other part of the ‘Luxe Dulogy’ I will expose this ugly side of luxury, albeit in a form that will be more acceptable to readers. And that is why ‘Dark Luxe’ is a fiction.
These short stories about The Dark Life of Luxe are figments of my imagination but not limited by it…it is interspersed with facts.
Please share your thoughts on the alternate sequence of life and death in the title of the stories? And why are some stories connected?
The sequencing of the stories which alternates between “Life of…” and “Death of…” is a deliberate attempt to give a rhythm to the way the stories are told to the readers. It is a sway between two extremes of our existence as well the existence of luxury. It is only when we explore the two ends of the spectrum we get to know the truth and so this aims to bring out that truth that hides behind fiction and folklore to the readers.
In filmmaking there is a very popular term that we use, POV shot or point of view shot. The camera transforms itself into the eyes of the protagonist and the story develops accordingly. So, in ‘Dark Luxe’ I have told the stories from the POV of my protagonists. And there are stories in which the same event is told from two perspectives and how these turn out to be so different that it warrants separate tales.
These stories are very dark, have you thought of the reaction of your readers are completing the book?
I am confident of the maturity of my readers so in the epilogue I have written in details on my thoughts on the reader’s reaction, so let me share an excerpt: “It was very cold inside the catacombs at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, you will get an eerie feeling, a feeling of some presence. Suddenly my curiosity made me peep through a window into a dimly lit room. My blood cuddled and a chill ran through my spines. Yes I am using clichés, as sometimes they best describe your feelings. It was a room of death. Human bones and skulls were stacked neatly in the room. And then this was only one of the rooms – the rooms of death. The remains of over 11,000 persons are in the catacombs – just their bones and skulls.
After gaining back my stupor, I looked into the next room and then the next – no glass barriers, only a window. After a few windows and innovative patterns with which human bones and skulls can be stacked, I felt nauseated.
It was at that moment this thought dawned on me — have I given the readers of “Dark Luxe” a similar experience?
Are my stories like these rooms of death?
Maybe, maybe not. But that is for my readers to let me know.
Like the walls of the catacomb, luxury remains a silent witness to the darkness of human deeds.”
About the book:
When we think of luxury we always think of dazzle, but we never even touch upon the darkness that hides behind this luxe. It is always about glam and glitz. Behind this razzle-dazzle, there is another life. A life filled with lust, hatred, jealousy, anger. Luxury is just a silent witness to the depth of darkness of human hearts.
Dark Luxe is not about dreams, it is about nightmares. It is about those realities that safely hide behind the veil of luxe. These 13 short stories are from the darkest, bottomless pits of hell. These first-hand tales of horror are by stuff luxury is made of, straight from their heart, leaving a trail of blood.
Mr Amitabh Bachchan, Mr Ratan Tata have given his blessings for the book and Dr BibekDebroy has written the foreword.
About the author:
Mahul Brahma is a luxury commentator and columnist. He is also an award-winning communicator, heading CSR, corporate communications and branding for mjunction, a Tata group company. He has been a senior journalist for a decade with Economic Times, CNBC TV18, Reuters and India partner of New York Times. He is an alumni of St Xavier’s College, University of Cambridge – Judge Business School and MICA. His debut micro short film “Post-It” as a filmmaker has received accolades from national and international film festivals. He is an avid golfer.