‘I'VE NEVER WRITTEN CRAP’

Super model, celebrity journalist, best-selling author. For a girl who stepped out of Bombay's St Xavier College in the 70s with a degree in psychology, Shobhaa De has made good. Very good indeed. She always went her own way, and ended up breaking new grounds.



By Vijay Dandige (Contributor)

Published: Thu 18 Aug 2005, 12:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:05 PM

As a journalist, editor of Stardust, she cut down Bollywood's ostensibly pristine movie stars, until then treated like larger-than-life figures, to a ludicrous pally level.

As an author, she ventured where no other Indian female writer had dared tread: in the libidinous urban world of behind-the-doors licentiousness and raunchy sex. Lambasted and lionised, her 13 books have topped the best seller lists. And she has been variously dubbed as the ‘Maharani of Muck’‚ ‘The Priestess of Porn’, ‘The Begum of Balderdash’. Some years back, she turned to TV script writing, and made a huge success of it too.

Glamorous as ever, Shobhaa De was in Dubai the other day, a city she has been visiting since last two decades. She was part of Zee TV's Ahlan Wa Sahlan, a PR event where the entire star cast of the network's popular serial is flown to Dubai for interaction with fans. Zee TV is currently airing Shobhaa De scripted serial Sarrkkar — Risshton Ki Ankahi Kahani, a political drama resembling the life of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In this exclusive interview with City Times, Shobhaa De lets on in her characteristic style.

How did the idea of Sarrkkar come about?

It is my concept completely. It's a story that has fascinated me for sometime because I think the combination of women and power is deadly, and how power transforms women. It transforms men too. But in the context of political power, they not necessarily opted for it, but came to it because of circumstance, and how that alters family life so radically and forever, and how ambition, if it overrides everything else can actually destroy a family and society at large.

And in case of Sarrkkar, the take off point is Indira Gandhi because I find her the most charismatic woman of our time. And yet she didn't start off as a politician. She became a politician by default. Even Sonia Gandhi always said she never wanted to be in politics. Circumstances brought her and even her husband into it. So for me the Gandhi family itself is very rich material. And I think contemporary history should be examined and commented upon. But I am only using the Gandhi family as inspiration.

In writing, have you ever been assailed by the thought: ‘Oh, what crap am I writing’?

Never — because I don't believe I've ever written crap. The question doesn't arise. I write with total and complete commitment, passion and dedication. Whatever the subject, I give 110 per cent of my efforts. I don't take a single column of mine lightly.

Not your columns, but what about your books, novels?

There's nothing I take lightly. There's always a reason why I am writing. I totally believe in what I write. I wouldn't write otherwise. Why should I even bother to do something that I don't want to do or don't believe in. To write a book, any book, requires a lot of discipline. So I wouldn't bother to do it if I didn't believe in it.

Time magazine once called you ‘The Jackie Collins of India’, and you reportedly took umbrage to that. Why?

I still do. I think Time magazine was being lazy by giving me that tag. See, they wanted to make me accessible to their readership. Of course, it's their prerogative to call me that, and it's mine to say that I've never identified with that.

What new projects/books are you working on?

I had a book out earlier this year called Spouse‚ which is a best seller. I've also completed another book, which is for teenagers, a children's book. I'll start another book, a commissioned one, in 2006. Right now, I'm thinking non-fiction, but it could turn to fiction once I start writing it. It's what I want to say about a certain aspect of our society. And there is another serial, with Manish Goswani, which should be on air in the next couple of months.

What is your view of the emerging Indian women writers?

There's enormous untapped talent, and I just see it growing, getting richer and better.


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