Tag Archives: love story

Interview with Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”


Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.

 

Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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Of loneliness, love and everything in between- Interview With Chitralekha Paul

Reviewers claim that Chitralekha Paul’s writings are similar to Jhumpa Lahiri and Anita Desai’s treatment and writing style. The dilemmas, issues and small pleasures of the protagonist of Delayed Monsoon, Abhilasha, has given critics and reviewers enough reason to applaud this lawyer-cum-writer’s debut venture. The way in which Abhilasha and Arvind fall in love, the anticipation of meeting her beloved for the first time (she fell in love with Arvind online) and the nervousness she faces of him being a person different from the Arvind she has known is written beautifully.

I got talking with Chitralekha Paul, about how she chose this story as her debut novel, about how similar is Chitralekha to Abhilasha and that one instance that helped her realize that people other than family would be interested in reading her novel.


From a lawyer to a writer – what inspired you to take up writing?

The lawyer in me is a professional person but there is also another me who is sensitive and creative. My thought process is never at rest. But being an introvert to the core, I could never share my feelings with anyone. So, I guess that is the reason I took up writing to express myself.

How was life with an Air-Force officer initially? Was there any kind of fear/apprehension about the professional hazards? Did that in anyway bring out the writer in you?
Initially there was lot of excitement. Getting married to an Air Force pilot was a big deal for a girl who was used to a calm and uneventful life far away from any kind of glamour or glory.  I was overwhelmed by the charisma of my husband’s profession. No doubt the profession was risky but somehow I never got apprehensive, except when his flying time coincided with thunderstorm or when he went into hills. Many people have asked me this question “ Don’t you get scared when your husband flies.?” And my answer was “ How can I afford to be scared when I have married a person for whom flying is his life?”


There is quite a bit of loneliness reflected in Abhilasha’s character. How did you think of the entire ideation and plot? How much of Chitralekha reflects in ‘Abhilasha’?

The story deals with the loneliness of Abhilasha at various stages of her life.  If we broadly divide the stages as before marriage and after marriage, then before marriage loneliness is something which is typical  with Abhilasha  but after marriage aloneness is quite a common feature.  My interaction with many married ladies of my time, who could not pursue their career, compelled me to ponder how void they felt from inside when apparently they seemed to be happy. Competent and educated girls who could have easily carved a niche for themselves had not thought twice before sacrificing their ambition at the altar of the family. Because that appeared to be the most spontaneous and natural choice at that point of time. But there comes a stage when family responsibilities are fulfilled, everyone’s interest has been taken care of, but what happens to them? Alas! At the end of it all, a painful realisation dawns on them that perhaps they have messed up their lives, as all their sacrifices earned them nothing more than an inferior status of being termed as a housewife, the most underrated, difficult and taken for granted profession( if it can be called a profession).  I have come into the legal profession at a much later stage, before which I was one among them. So I chose to write for me and for many more not so accomplished ladies who could have touched the sky only if they got a chance to realise their potential.

All the characters have a distinct feel and flavor. How easy or difficult was it etching them – the male protagonists as well as the female protagonists?
Human characters fascinate me a lot. We all are distinct persons with various shades. No one is outright good or bad. That’s why whenever I come into contact with any person I try to be non-judgmental so that all his traits, good or bad get painted in the canvas of my mind.  And since I am the one who loves to observe rather than being observed and listen rather than being listened, I find it easy to feel the distinct flavour of each character.

Is there any incident that you’d like to share with the readers that has left an impression in your memory, during the writing process?
Initially when I started writing I was not very sure if people will be interested in the story of Abhilasha who was just an ordinary housewife. My daughter’s remarks that the story makes an interesting read, failed to convince me as I took it to be an attempt by a loving daughter to encourage her mother. Then one day my husband happened to peep on the Microsoft word file which I forgot to close. “It’s amazing!! I have been with you for so many years but I never knew that your grip over English is better than me. With an easy flowing language, you have an interesting story to tell and many ladies would love to read your book,” for the first time in my life I was praised by my worst critique.  And I was on cloud nine.

Would you like to name some of your favorite books/authors?
I find this question a bit difficult to answer. There are quite a few authors  whose writing I enjoy. But that doesn’t mean that I would like all their writings.. May be I have enjoyed a particular book of a certain writer but some other books  written by the same author has disappointed me. But still if you want me to answer the question,  first I will name two famous  Bengali novelists and they are Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and Sharat Chandra Chatterjee. Apart from them there are many others like R.K Narayan, Paul Coelho, Alex Haley, Jeffrey Archer, M M Kaye, Khaled Hosseini,  Indu Sudaresan and so on. Among the books Pather Panchali, Malgudi Days, Roots, The Far Pavilions, Autobiography of a Yogi and AThousand Splendid Suns are my all time favourite.

What other genres of writing do you wish to explore further?
Umm…I have not thought about this  as yet.

How has life changed after being known as a writer/author?
Well….. life is the same for me, there is absolutely no change.


What next do we see you writing?

May be another fiction which will have nothing to do with my personal experience.

Pearls of wisdom for budding writers…
Be honest with your feelings and don’t let the mind interfere with your heart in the initial stage of writing. Just go with the flow and let the story take a shape. Afterwards you will have enough opportunity to use your mind, be it changing the story line or working on the language.

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Book Review of “Jab Se You Have Loved Me” By S R Saha


The book titled “Jab se You have Loved Me” by S R Saha is quite silly I must say.

The backdrop of IIT Madras will remind you of the umpteen other novels based on college campus love and drama.

Atin, the protagonist is a student of IIT Madras. He is a mediocre student and ends up selling cheap Chinese gadgets (after graduating) for a living, in Kolkatta.

He falls in love with a pretty dame named Ujani, a graduate in Bio-Sciences, who ends up working as an airhostess.

Atin’s gang comprises Luv, Iqbal, Russell Raj, and Rumia. Luv starts off to be a CA but ends up working for a stock broker. Iqbal is a Philosophy graduate but now runs a shop. Russel Raj has a Ph.D from an American University but is unemployed. Rumia is a fine electrical engineer but her sad childhood haunts her.

How their life shapes up is supposed to be one story. But I hardly found it.

There seems no concrete flow. It reads like certain humorous incidents penned together to make the readers laugh at some odd places. That too looks forced and lame at places.

The timeline is a major problem with the author I feel. At one point he mentions that Caller IDs were new gadgets in the Indian market and at another point he reveals that Obama is the US President. Dude! What is going on?!?

There’s major confusion. How does he get the new offer letter? How did the riots suddenly happen? And in the three days of him being unconscious, his aunt has already re-married and Luv kinda goes missing. WOW! That’s fast.

Oh, and this hero manages to convince the Americans to use water instead of toilet paper. Yeah sure! Something that hasn’t happened in like a thousand years, our hero does it in one meeting!

There are quite many popular brands mentioned in the book. And I see no logical point to those. I mean really! It is quite filmy and flimsy.

Overall, the incidents are worth reading only for the bit of laughter they bring in. No real story. No real plot. (And by real I don’t mean- real life- I mean no good stuff happening here.)

Btw- bad quality paper and sad cover design too.

Though I got it for a reasonable price, it hurt to spend money on “this”.

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Book Review of “OOPS! I fell in love! just by chance…” By Harsh Snehanshu

OOPS! ‘I fell in love! just by chance…

By Harsh Snehanshu

Well with almost every other student (from an engineering college, MBA college, or just about any college) writing a book/novel, it becomes very difficult for readers to make a wise choice. Reading, after all, isn’t like surfing the idiot box. Bad books leave a very bad after taste, in the brain.

Thankfully so, Harsh Snehanshu’s debut novel – Oops I fell in love – just by chance saved me the misery of shunning the work of “young Indian writers” yet again.

The book is more of a love story. A cute one.

A young chap from Indore, Kanav Bajaj gets admission at IIT Delhi to pursue engineering. A geek in some ways, his heart skips a beat when he first comes across Tanya, a gorgeous and smart Delhi girl. Opposites attract. And how!!!

How his life changes after falling in ‘love’ with this LSR girl is really cute and readable. (Wow! I’ve said “cute” twice already!! So unlike me.)

The story is quite humorous and the writing quite fresh.

The characters of Aryan, Anuj, Sameer, Tanya and of course Kanav are very diverse and unique. Readers will surely be able to connect with the protagonists and the situations. The use of local jargon, the mentions of technology and social media platforms makes this a very relatable read. Things that happen on campus can never be forgotten. From rising peer pressures to emotions to parental concerns to misunderstandings, the book captures it all beautifully.

It is a very simple tale of new/first love and things connected with it. But the writing style makes it quite entertaining and enjoyable.

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