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'My life’s not interesting enough'

Diksha Basu on why her first book began as a story about her struggle in Bollywood before turning fiction.

books Updated: Jan 08, 2012 14:57 IST
Shweta Mehta

Unlike most authors, writing didn’t come naturally to Diksha Basu. She studied economics, just like father Kaushik Basu, the country’s Chief Economic Adviser.

BooksThen she shunned the subject to move to Mumbai from New York for an acting career. But four years, two plays, an English film and a TV show later, she finds herself working as a full-time author and enjoying every minute of it.

Basu’s debut novel, Opening Night, is being launched today. The book based on a young woman from the US, who moves to Mumbai to try and make it as an actor in Bollywood may well be mistaken as an account of her own life.

Is it autobiographical, then? “No,” laughs Basu, who had moved from upstate New York to Bandra for four years, looking to explore a career in theatre.

“Like all books, it did start off based on me, but when I realised my own life wasn’t interesting enough to document, even though I’d hoped it was, it started to become fiction.”

Prod her further and she reveals, “This girl is quite naive and unaware of how India has changed over the past 10-15 years. She’s quite American in her ways despite being Indian. She comes here to act, determined not to fall into clichés, or in love, or any of those typical things. She’s looking for fame and fortune. Although she falls in love with a neurotic ex-model, the story is mainly about her search for a career.”

She refers to her interest in writing as something she stumbled upon.

She recalls, “I was getting frustrated with acting and went through the typical questions. Then suddenly, within two years of being in Mumbai, I had started writing bits and pieces, a couple of newspaper articles, some short pieces about my experiences in Mumbai, and that’s when my interest started to turn. I found it to be an escape, although I don’t think I was very good at it initially.”

But Basu, who’s already working on her second book, assures us this is her full-time career now. Her days of acting are behind her.

Ask if we might ever see the book translated to film and she replies instantly, “Yes, I’d love to be involved with screenwriting for it, but I think I’m done with acting.”

Opening Night is published by Harper Collins. It will be launched by author Chetan Bhagat today at 12.30 pm at Crossword, Juhu.