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Interview : People Will Continue To Need Knowledge And Good Stories – Parinda Joshi

Parinda Joshi is the author of novels like Live from London, Power Play. Her latest novel, Made In China, was adapted into a Hindi feature film starring Rajkummar Rao and Boman Irani. In a candid Interview she talks about her book, her love for writing and much more.

Excerpts:

Q : What made you choose a title Made In China?
A : The book revolves around a product my entrepreneurial protagonist stumbles upon in China. The title alludes to that. It was earlier tentatively titled Tiger In Your Soup, which is also indicative of the plot.

Q : What was the feeling like when you heard the book would be a Bollywood movie soon?
A : It was quite surreal. I kept thinking it was one of those things where movies get commissioned but never made, especially because I’m some 8000 miles away from tinsel town and it all sounded so foreign to me. It was beyond the realm of my imagination.

Q : When it turned into a movie were you happy with the star cast chosen for the film.
A : Since none of my previous books were turned into movies, I hadn’t imagined who could play my characters when I first wrote it. My protagonist, Raghu, is slightly older than the movie’s protagonist. He’s a tad daft but ambitious, a go-getter, and has good intentions, although his choices may not always reflect that. When I first heard about Rajkummar Rao being cast for the movie, I thought perhaps he was a bit young. But he brought out the struggles of the protagonist wonderfully. The way he showcased Raghu’s angst, his dilemma, his insecurities, his failures and his triumphs were exceptional and beyond smooth. He’s an actor par excellence. Same for Boman Irani and Sumit Vyas. Those are the key characters in my book. And now I can’t possibly imagine anyone else doing those roles.

Q: Is it true that you had written the book in 2015 but it took four years to publish? Why did it take so long?
A : That’s right. I wrote it and pitched it to a few publishers around 2015 but there was little interest in it then. Since it was a dark comedy about an edgy topic, many publishers were of the opinion that the majority of readers may not have an appetite for it. It may have been ahead of its time. Conversations revolving around the book’s subject weren’t commonplace in the Indian society a few years back. So I put it on the backburner and worked on other projects. And here we are now, in 2020, with both the book and the movie based on it released. I guess it was meant to be.

Q : Did the movie help you reach a wider audience since it was a book too? What was the reaction like?
A : It did. There are multiple ways in which a reader discovers a new book. There was substantial social buzz around the book and that could have been a combination of the quirky story and the fact that it was adapted into a movie. As for retail, the cover is eye-catching and the stamp of ‘now a major motion picture’ adds to the intrigue factor. The book was on Amazon’s bestseller lists for a while. Amazon also put it on its top 50 best reads across all genres and languages earlier in February ‘20. Going by the high volume of average 4-star reviews on the platform, it seems widely read and liked.

Q: Your two previous books were Live From London, Powerplay and now Made In China. Of the three which one is your favourite and why.
A : They’re all very different books across different genres. Live from London is a coming of age story about a young pop star. Powerplay delves into the murky corporate politics of a fictional cricket league. Made In China is a dark comedy. It’s hard to pick a favorite but I like the quirky comedy space.

Q : Now that Made in China has been well received and widely applauded, what is the feeling like?
A : For writers, what’s arguably more crucial than finding success is to continue being published and to continue to reach a wider audience. Needless to say, I am absolutely delighted with the outcome and I’m onto my next.

Q : As an author, how do you see the current scenario? With various Lit Fests around the country, and despite many distractions like social media and the internet, there seems to be a great audience for books too. Do you think this is a very encouraging sign?

A : Social media and the internet have transformed into a 2-second medium. It often accounts for mindless overconsumption, an endless technological blur but it’s not a proven source for things that will provide thought-provoking or life-altering long-form content that one can internalize. Thank god for books. A book is a beauty on a shelf (or on a device) that can impact one’s attitude, ideas, behavior, and intellect. Physical books still outsell e-books. I think that’s an encouraging sign that not everything backed by technology automatically triumphs. People will continue to need knowledge and good stories; which means books are going nowhere.

Q : What is a sign that inspires one to write again?
A : The tags from readers on my social accounts, reader reviews, and all the love I get. When you get a genuine message from a reader saying it made them laugh or helped them sail through a tough situation, it makes years of effort worth it. Sometimes I thrive on that. Other times, I write just because it makes me really happy. One is not really a function of the other.

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