“I HAVE WRITTEN A HINDI FILMI BOOK”
You have a film background. Your film The Rebel even won a National Award. What made you take to writing?
I first started writing a novel when I was 11 years old. I made out a list of characters – I used to pronounce the ‘ch’ in characters like in chance, but not being able to pronounce properly didn’t hold me back from writing in English. In fact, my relationship with English started off on a bad note – I failed in first standard because I didn’t know English. I still remember the teacher writing the questions on the blackboard in a beautiful cursive writing and I couldn’t even understand the words. There was never much stress about my flunking – my elder sister distributed pedhas because she passed and I distributed pedhas because I failed. But my mother started teaching me English proactively. At home, I speak a mixture of Marathi and English. I feel a bit uncomfortable speaking just English or Hindi or Marathi. It’s all a glorious mish-mash, which we call Hinglish. Which is the language of my novel as well.
Being a small- town girl yourself, how much do you identify with the main character of your book, Paro?
Actually, I identify with the hero, Rahul Kapoor, much more. Because he’s got his roots in Hindi films – he stood in a line for five hours to get tickets for Sholay when he was a kid. I did the same, and let me tell you, it was worth every minute!
How did you get the idea for the story? Does it in any way speak of your own experiences?
It’s based on something that happened to a friend of mine. She was going through a heartbreak, when another guy started wooing her. She wasn’t sure whether she should trust him, because she’d been dumped by her ex-boyfriend… For me, writing this book was like acting, because it was in the first person – I had to get into the skin of this character I was quite unlike and be honest to her.
How do you foresee the future of Indian fiction?
I think that there’s going to be more of everything in Indian fiction. More books, a wider variety of authors, more publishers and yes, more readers. I also feel that a lot more non-hi-brow books will be written in English. One reason is that there is a market for them in India itself, and even more important, there’s a certain ease we have developed with English, a less formal relationship with the language and with the stories we want to tell.
Who are your favourite authors and which are the most memorable books you have read?
I love a lot of women’s voices – Helen Fielding, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Erica Jong, Harper Lee. But when I’m in the mood for time-pass, nothing beats a good old thriller. I don’t even try to second-guess, just enjoy myself thoroughly.
Are you planning to make any more films?
Oh yes! I love films and I definitely do want to make films. In fact, I’m working on some feature film scripts right now and am searching for a producer.
Film making and writing are both creative mediums. What similarities and differences do you find in them?
One thing I really missed when I was writing the novel was working with actors – it’s really magical, the way an actor apnaoes your lines and brings them alive. That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the reading from Trust Me which Atul Kulkarni did as a part of the International Film Festival of India at Goa. I plan to have readings as part of the book launches of Trust Me in all the major cities.
How is Trust Me doing?
Trust Me has been selling like hot cakes. The publishers have sold out the first print which was of about 10,000 copies and they’ve now printed the second edition.
Do you plan to make a film based on Trust Me?
If I’d wanted to make Trust Me as a film, I would have done just that. I wanted to write the novel, I’ve spent ages writing and rewriting and rerewriting… This is the way I’d wanted it to be. But I do realize that a great movie can be made based on Trust Me, so I’m open to letting somebody else do it.
So, do you think that all men are bastards?
Oh, God, no! Why would I write a romance, albeit a comic one, if I thought that all men are bastards?
Would your book appeal only to women?
All the quotes recommending the book on the cover of the first edition were by men. The second edition cover actually has a quote only by one woman. Trust Me is quite a Hindi filmi book. So if you love Hindi films, like Rahul Kapoor does, or hate them, the way Parvati does, you’ll enjoy reading Trust Me.