The dark life of luxury objects

Author and columnist Mahul Brahma has come up with his second book Dark Luxe, an anthology of 13 short stories exploring the dark side of luxury. Brahma’s first part of the luxe duology was Decoding Luxe, a non-fiction that has received praises from eminent authors, editors and industrialists.
Dark Luxe is a fiction and the author says it is a more acceptable format to the readers for stories on luxury and deadly sins. It is unconventional and a thriller that completes the entire spectrum of luxury — from dazzle to darkness.
All the 13 stories as well as the tailpiece story have interesting protagonists, the luxury objects themselves, such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Hummer, Dom Perignon champagne, Rolex and Princess Cut Tiffany ring. These stories are told as first-hand accounts of these 14 protagonists and are about their experience of the dark side.


The stories are named alternating between “life of…” and “death of…” to create a rhythm of life and death. While the short stories are independent and can be randomly selected for reading, it is advised to maintain the sequence. They are dark and explore the bottomless pit of human emotions.
It is interesting how the author has been able to make luxury an integral part of all these stories by making it a silent witness to the crimes. What is intriguing about these stories is that while they are fiction, Brahma has been able to weave in history of luxury of these so-called protagonists. One such example is the ‘love affair’ between Dom Perignon and James Bond. He traces the history of the book “Moonraker” where Bond was introduce to Dom Perignon by a wine waiter at Blades during a dinner with M.
Dark Luxe is a rollercoaster ride with thrill, gore, crime, sin and of course luxury and the author says what lies behind the razzle-dazzle. Excerpts:

When and why was this book conceived?
It was during the final stages of completion of my first book Decoding Luxe that a strange thought dawned on me — while in Decoding Luxe I have traced the evolution of luxury in India what about the other side of the spectrum — the dark side of luxe? The thought then gave birth to the ‘Luxe Duology’, a two-book series dealing with the entire spectrum of luxury. This will be three years ago. During the time when Decoding Luxe was being launched last year I was giving the final touches to Dark Luxe.
And as this book deals with the dark side of luxury I thought fiction will be a more acceptable medium to my readers unlike the first book which is a non-fiction. Thus Dark Luxe is a thriller and an anthology of 13 short stories on luxe, crime, passion, revenge and the deadly sins.

Tell us a little more about the Luxe Duology.
The Luxe Duology is a two-part series of my two books on luxury — Decoding Luxe and Dark Luxe. This is the first duology of its kind in luxury internationally. The interesting part is that while the first is a non-fiction the second is a fiction. So it is not like a conventional story in two parts but a story nonetheless, yet unconventional and thrilling wherein it completes the entire spectrum of luxury, from dazzle to darkness.

What was the thought process behind the book?
I realised with dazzle, comes the darkness — Yin and Yang. It is the world’s way of maintaining the order. After a lot of research and interviews, I came across shocking tales of death, blood and gore associated with luxury. I realised we are only limited by our imagination to fathom the extent a man can go in his pursuit of darkness.
Luxe or dazzle acts as a cover, a shield to keep this dark life of us humans at bay.
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 and are crafted as tales from the proverbial horse’s mouth. They are shared (in the stories) by the most sought-after and elite products that the crème-de-la-crème brands showcase to their exclusive patrons.
These are the stories buried deep into the Mediterranean or in the sanctum-sanctorum of our hearts. These stories tell you the tale of how we humans are all the same in our core, dominated by one or many of the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.
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 will share their tales as a silent witness that are far from the dazzle they exude.
These short stories about The Dark Life of Luxe are figments of my imagination but not limited by it.

Why have you chosen these inanimate luxury objects as the protagonists?
All the 13 stories as well as the tailpiece story have very interesting protagonists such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Hummer, Dom Perignon champagne, Rolex and Princess Cut Tiffany ring. These stories are told as first-hand accounts of these 14 protagonists. They are about their experience of the dark side. The stories are named very interestingly, alternating between “life of…” and “death of…”. This is to create a rhythm of life and death for the reader to experience. So while the short stories are independent and can be randomly selected for reading, it is advised to maintain the sequence.

These stories are very dark. Have you thought of the reaction of your readers?
In the epilogue I have written in details on my thoughts on the readers’ 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.”

(Contributed by Priyanka Das)

Book: Decoding Luxe; Author: Dr Mahul Brahma; Publisher: Srishti;
Pages: 75; Price: 175

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