Don-turned-writer’s latest book to be released on Dec 9

Agni Shridhar is a former gangster who has switched careers to become a writer, critic and artist. Last month, he unveiled the cover of his second novel ‘The Gangster Gita’, which is the English version of his work ‘Edegarike’. Translated from Kannada by Prathibha Nandakumar, the book is slated to hit the stores on December 9.

Set in Bengaluru’s underworld in the ’90s, the book recounts Agni’s experiences. “During my years in the underworld, I was involved in the murder of a Mumbai contract killer. Before the incident, we became quite close to each other,” he shares. “He knew of my plan the entire time, but he did not try to escape. He surrendered to his fate with utmost dignity and unusual calmness. His death disturbed me a lot so I decided to write about his life in an attempt to
immortalise him,” he adds. 

This is not his first attempt to document stories of his life. He has written a series of columns in Agni, a weekly tabloid he published and edited. He also wrote ‘Dadagiriya Dinagalu’, which was later scripted into a film ‘Aa Dinagalu’, for which Girish Karnad was also a scriptwriter. 

His life as a gangster began at 24 when his brother was attacked by a thug named Kotwal Ramachandra in 1979.

“My brother had come from a faraway town to Bengaluru to watch a cricket match between India and Pakistan. That day, Kotwal attacked and maimed eight boys on the main road just to make a name for himself in the underworld. I was advised by the police to refrain from placing a complaint since he was backed by big-time politicians. I decided to avenge myself and it took me seven years to be able to do so,” he says.

Personal convictions and family pressure, he says, was what motivated him to give up that life. 

As someone who had been interested in literature since childhood, he began scripting for movies in his 20s.

“I had stopped writing, but the interest never died. When I took the decision to start with a fresh and clean slate in my 40s, the pen became my only weapon,” he says.  

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