Sonali Ghosh Sen is a freelance writer and a movie buff. Her debut novel
K-K-Krazy About Khan
tells the tale of a young urban girl who is deeply fascinated by Shah Rukh Khan.
Have you ever encountered a fan as deeply devoted to SRK as your protagonist?
Well, I have read about fans who would do literally anything for Shah Rukh, seen documentaries about such fans and seen for myself the fan-frenzy that he commands. However, I'm yet to meet a person like my over-the top, wacky heroine. Kriti is purely a figment of my imagination. She is how I perceive someone who would go super-crazy about a Bollywood star. The plot echoes the wackiness of the character and that's why it was a fun story to write.
How did you decide to write K-K-Krazy About Khan?
I have always been passionate about movies. It was a comment by a friend of mine that "since I loved movies so much why not write a story based on it?" that set me off. What really interested me was that hero-worship is literally 'reel hero' worship in India. Fans treat Bollywood stars as gods and movies as a 'religion'. That seemed an interesting premise to begin a story and this is what K-K-Krazy About Khan is all about.
The details that Kriti divulges about SRK are really such that would be known by a die-hard fan. Is that the meticulous working of an author or trivia shared by a fan?
I have to confess that it is all the work of the author. To prepare for the book I repeatedly saw all of SRK's movies. So much so that my family members have memorised most of his movie lyrics and dialogues! I have also read whatever literature is there on him as a person - the biographies on him and the excellent documentary by Nasreen Munni Kabir, the blogs on the net; the trivia in the gossip columns. What I had to decide is what should I present from this information bank in my book. Since Kriti is really in love with Shah Rukh as she sees him on the screen, I limited myself to what is seen on the screen, recalling the screen characters - Raj, Rahul or Kabir Khan - and situations in his movies and interpreting or re-interpreting them through the eyes of the protagonist. This, of course, adds an interesting layer to the story.
Who was the inspiration for Kriti?
Well a bit of Kriti is modelled on a close friend of mine who is as bindaas as her in temperament and attitude, but thereafter I have created a character who wants to act like a Meerabai to a Shah Rukh, but ends up being more like a Don Quixote!
A fan often literally worships his icon. Do you think such a trait is healthy or always contains the possibility of tipping over into obsessive disorders like stalking?
Movie stars have a more visible fan following given the glare and limelight under which they themselves live, however it is not just they who have fans, all of us have role models. I think this is healthy and perhaps even necessary as it lays down a yardstick to help us measure where we are in our own lives. Bollywood, through its stars, has had a positive impact on India in creating what we today see a 'pan Indian' culture. Obsessive and compulsive disorders, I think are a medical problem that could occur with or without fan worship.
What is your opinion of the shows such as Tere Mere Beech and Lift Kara De that promote the enthusiasm of fans?
I think the shows started off as a good way to channelize the love fans feel for their screen idols. But somewhere along the way I felt that both the shows became too gimmicky, and focused more on the stars and celebrity anchors rather than the fans, on whom these shows were supposedly based on.
You have very innovatively structured your novel using "random thoughts" after each chapter and minutes and seconds division. Why did you decide to craft your work this way?
It wasn't intentional. I started using 'random thoughts' as a device to connect Kriti to SRK. This is her interpretation of how whatever is happening in her life is a reflection of what happens in a SRK movie. It worked so well for the first few chapters that I decided to retain it for the rest of the story. As for using minutes and seconds, I have written this book entirely in the present tense and first person. My intention was to bring the reader into the unfolding drama rather than give him a ring side seat. So using short sentences and a staccato style acted as a visual cue to convey my heroine's feelings and her hilarious misadventures. I think this style suits the young, fun mood of the book.
You have also introduced the problem of Yellow journalism in the book through the scandalous video of Kriti. As a journalist yourself, what is your opinion on yellow journalism?
It is interesting that you have picked up this aspect of the story. When we switch on the news channels these days they seem to be one long, trite and unending 'reality show'. In a recent national debate on journalistic ethics it was sad to hear a senior and noted journalist defending such behaviour as 'means to garner TRPs'. The inclusion in my story of this aspect simply reflects that this kind of journalism is becoming more the norm than an exception. However, given the style of my book I have created this completely exaggerated, humourous and almost farcical 'scandalous video' incident which makes for an interesting sub-plot to the narrative.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you like to see as Kriti and Kunal/ Kabir?
This is a tough one while I can visualise what the role would demand from the actors, I really can't point to a particular actor for either of these roles. But, but, but more than anything else I would love to see 'Shah Rukh Khan as himself' appearing in the credits.