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November 15, 2016

Twinkle Khanna On The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad

Text by Huzan Tata. Author image courtesy of Dabboo Ratnani.

“I definitely try and mellow down words because I want to get my point across without having a morcha outside my house or getting arrested!” the actor-turned-writer tells us

A young girl whose progressive idea transforms her village; a lady who finds love in her old age; a man who wears sanitary pads to understand women’s issues –Twinkle Khanna’s second book is a collection of short stories that make you both think and smile. The self-titled Mrs Funnybones’ first attempt at fiction, The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad, focuses on women-centric issues that are on everyone’s minds but seldom talked about; and each story is peppered with her trademark wit.

Social satire
“A lot of the subjects in the book are those that I’ve hit on during research for my columns – the story of the Sanitary Man, for example. I came across it when I was doing a piece on menstruation. Even those in our strata of society have some notions about not going to the temple during periods. I found that there was a common thread in all the stories, whether rural or urban. I think I put more of myself in Muruga the Sanitary Man than in anyone else. He is a multilayered character and has this whimsy about him – the way he speaks and looks at life.”

Funny business
“I think writing fiction is much simpler than my columns. Here, I had time to do significant amounts of research. My columns are topical and because I write satire, I have to make sure I have at least four or five humorous lines about subjects that are absolutely not funny. So I find that a little more daunting!”

Keep it brief
“We’ve all got this cultivated ADD now, where we can’t get ourselves to finish the same thick tomes that we used to plough through. As a columnist, I have a succinct way of writing – I’m bound by the word count. So the short form works for me. I think it’s about what the story needs and what my mindset is at that time.”

Woman power
“People think feminists are aggressive, hardened people, which is not true. It probably filters down from the fact that when the movement was coming into being, you had to be strident in the face of such great opposition. Feminism is nothing else but advocating for equal opportunities for both genders. We’re also trapped in many roles – either you’re a working woman or a homemaker. I think we have the ability to do several things at one time and do them all efficiently.”

Just for laughs
“While growing up, I wasn’t the popular girl who was prom queen. I was the fattest, a bit of an oddball, a nerd, a bookworm. I was always a misfit. So I’m used to not feeling the need to fit in or belong in that manner. I’ve always said things the way I have. Having to write down things helps me refine my words more carefully so I don’t directly hurt someone. It matters very little to me what other people think, but I definitely try and mellow down words because I want to get my point across without having a morcha outside my house or getting arrested! I’ve been arrested once and I don’t want a repeat of the experience. If I’m offending someone, their guard is already up and they’re not going to get my point. If I make them laugh, I can make inroads into their minds.”

Favourite genres
“Science fiction is my true love. I’ve been reading it since I was 15. Though now I also read everything else to broaden my horizons, I read a sci-fi short story every night before sleeping. I would actually love to write horror – it’s probably very shameful but I’ve read every Stephen King book from cover to cover! I could write a horror novel in my sleep.”

Rules for writing…
“Every writer primarily needs to be a reader. You need to read everything including the writing on shampoo bottles! You’ll probably read something quirky somewhere which will be etched in your memory, splinter, and come out as a new phrase. You also have to be an observer, and daydream while observing things. Look at them, wondering, ‘What if…?’. It’s this ‘what if’ that makes you write.”

If you had to sell your book in one sentence…
“I would say: People are reading many many bad books in large numbers, so read my book because it’s good!”

The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad is published by Juggernaut.

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