This Dragon M is no drug lord but a poet
The first impression you get on hearing the name – Dragon M – is of a Chinese drug lord in a Bond movie. But when you get to know that this Dragon M is a mechanical engineer whose father runs a general store in Vrindavan and his real name is Mrinal Mandal, you are in for a surprise. Always been close to writing and art, Mrinal penned his debut novel, Hourglass, in 2018 while still in college. The youngster, also a stage performer as he performs poems, stories and raps too, recently came up with an album of his collection of five poems, Aatmabodh. These are well-composed poems that highlight a different side of a person. The music for these tracks has been given by Chandigarh-based music producer Dox and New Delhi-based instrumentalist Gaurang Sahu. Every track in the album is very unique and brings a fresh-air of thoughts to the listener.
We had a chat with Mrinal aka Dragon M…
Tell us about Aatmabodh.
I don’t know how other poets write or what is their writing process, but I can’t sit and think to write. It always comes to me, as an overflow of emotion that takes the form of a poem through the nib of the pen. They represent my heart, my emotions, and therefore, they represent me. I know myself better through my poems, so when I thought about naming this project, the idea of self-realisation struck me and I named it Aatmabodh. So, Aatmabodh is an album of poems of self-realisation. This project has been produced by The Astitva, and released on their channel. I would like to thank Dox or magician Dox because what he does with music is wizardry. He composed four out of the five tracks. I can bump them all-day long. Second, Gaurang, who composed and produced the music for Sarhadien, a poem which talks about communal hatred.
I know myself better through my poems. When I thought about naming this project, the idea of self-realisation struck me. I named it Aatmabodh
Why and when did Mrinal Mandal turn into Dragon M? And why Dragon M?
M in Dragon M stands for Mrinal. However, if you ask me why Dragon, then it’s both strategic and symbolic. Back in 2018 when I was preparing for a performance at Antisocial, New Delhi, I wrote a story that I wanted to perform there. It was about a kid who wanted to become a dragon when he grows up. After that performance, I realised I too am like the kid who would love to become a dragon. So how it is symbolic? Because dragons, even being only mythical creatures, are Almighty. They can fly, they can breathe fire, they can grant wishes too. Being a dragon means being able to do and achieve whatever one wishes for. When I call myself a dragon and call my listeners dragons, I mean to tell them the same. How it is strategic? Because at some stage of my life, I would want to write a novel where the protagonist is known with the name of Dragon.
You are a mechanical engineer who is into writing, art and you perform too. Is there anyone in the family from whom you got inspired?
My elder is a professional stand-up comedian. While I was thinking of becoming a stage performer, we already had one in the family. Though the inspiration for writing and becoming a stage performer didn’t come from there, it came from multiple incidents. For starters, I was requested by my seniors to participate in a writing competition in the first year of college and guess who won it?
What was the reaction back home when you told them that after completing your mechanical engineering you wanted to be a writer/ poet/ rapper?
They always knew what I was doing, right from my college days. I completed and published my first novel while I was in the final year of my engineering. I toured Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur and Pune and organised literary open mics to promote the book and an art-based start-up I co-founded while being in college. Having an artist already in the family helped me.
I want to break free from the systems we, as a society, have built. Shouldn’t education be qualitative than quantitative?
Your first impression of yourself.
I have always known failures as I know my own shadow. They are always by my side, always have been at all stages of my life. But I have also known myself as a dreamer, a bird who looks at the sky and wishes to touch all of it knowing that it may fall while trying that but isn’t afraid of it.
A rule you would want to break free from.
I don’t think there are any rules I want to break free from but rather the systems we, as a society, have built. Shouldn’t education be qualitative than quantitative? Shouldn’t the artists be earning as per their skill set than popularity? The count will only go on and on.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why/ how?
I get inspired way too easily so I don’t know who I have been most inspired by. But there are a few – JK Rowling, I mean, how can one not be? What she created is unmatchable. She took us to some another world, made us believe in magic and what not. Then there is this one man I always wanted to meet but I never will – Chester Bennington, former lead singer/ lyricist of a band called Linkin Park.
The moment I start earning through my art, the first thing I will do is to quit corporate life and run away to the mountains
What plans does Mrinal Mandal have for the future?
At present, I am working as an SEO executive at PayTm which both pays my bills and help me support and push my artistic side. I don’t plan to work with corporates all my life. In fact, the moment I start earning through my art, the first thing I will do is to quit corporate life and run away to the mountains. I want to explore a whole lot – places, people, books, music, and a lot more. And yes, I want to keep performing.