And then there’s the lighting by Diwan. For example, says Dutt, he used the lighting found in Vermeer paintings for young Qala—to accentuate the feeling of loneliness—and Rembrandt’s for Urmila, a colder beam. “Whenever Qala looked at her mother, there was always a halo-like light behind her, like a twisted Madonna-and-Child.”
Visual metaphors abound in Qala. More than the dialogue, the chandeliers, mirrors, wallpapers, gargoyles, mazes, zoetropes speak volumes about the protagonist’s turmoil. Dutt, a bibliophile who finds inspiration in everyone from Ursula K. Le Guin to Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman to Bram Stoker, invests heavily in world-building. “This isn’t art for art’s sake. It’s in service of the story. And every frame conveys an emotion.”
Agarwal, who worked as a photographer for a decade before this, delights in the possibility of moving images; something she first realized while watching Tarkovsky’s Mirror and the documentary Man With a Movie Camera. “Still life might seem corny now,” she laughs, “but then you look at the work of someone like [Dutch painter] Adriaen Coorte and you realize there’s more to it. The Dutch invented the microscope, and it reflects in their paintings.” Not unlike Qala, “you have to zoom in to notice the details, the darkness.”
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.