Radhika Apte, Rajkummar Rao and Kalki Koechlin on the magical world of audiobooks
Now you can finish all the books on your list
If you’re someone who loves reading but struggles to find time, we’ve found the best solution for you. With the launch of Audible — the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word content — in India, you can now not only finish all the books on your to-do list, but also improve your listening skills tremendously. What’s more, to celebrate the launch, actors Radhika Apte, Rajkummar Rao and Kalki Koechlin have collaborated with Audible to narrate Mafia Queens of Mumbai, a book by S. Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges. We caught up with the trio at the launch event. Excerpts from the interview below:
ELLE: How did this collaboration come about?
Rajkummar Rao (RR): I met with the Audible team and they told me that they wanted me to narrate some stories from S. Hussain Zaidi’s book — and I’ve always been a fan of his writing. I read two stories and thought it would be a great idea to just use my voice and perform for my listeners.
Kalki Koechlin (KK): The book got me really excited because I read the book a few years back when it had been released, with a forward written by Vishal Bhardwaj. It includes short stories on the female dons of Mumbai, and it’s a very good story.
Radhika Apte (RA): I knew about Audible, and I liked the app before I was approached by them. I’ve grown up listening to stories, and I believe that the act of narrating is so important and to only use your voice to tell the story is so challenging. I thought it would be a great place to practice and learn how to do that.
ELLE: Tell us about some of the stories you have narrated.
RR: Sapna Didi is one of my favourites. She’s a naive housewife from Mumbai, and the whole transition of her turning into a gangster really had me startled. It was fun recording dialogues for her story.
KK: I’m reading different stories and one of them is on Jenna Bai, who’s always in the background, but she’s a master planner. She’s a conniving and manipulative woman who has a lot of connections with different gang lords. Then there’s Mahalaxmi Pappamani, a South-Indian woman, who wears a lot of gold but lives in the slums.
RA: I’ve read three stories and my favourite is Gangu Bai. She’s been a victim of rape, but she found the strength to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all the dons of those times, and she also made her voice heard.
ELLE: Did you grow up listening to stories as a kid?
RR: We’ve all been listening to stories while growing up. I grew up in Gurgaon and I remember my grandmother narrating folk tales to me.
KK: My dad was a great narrator and he would tell me fairytales. And I’ve actually done a spoken word piece on how fairytales influenced me as a child.
RA: We all have grown up listening to stories and it’s very easy to go back to that. Listening is very meditative. My personal favourite is Purushottam Laxman Deshpande — I’d like to read that as an audiobook.
ELLE: Do you have any recommendations that our readers should keep an ear out for on Audible?
RR: I’m currently listening to our audiobook, Mafia Queens of Mumbai.
KK: I’m currently listening to Oscar Wilde’s poetry on Audible. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a great book I recently heard.
RA: The only audiobook I’ve heard so far is Attached — and it’s very good.