Clad in a simple salwar suit, scriptwriter-turned novelist, Gajjra Kottary walks in to auditorium demurely. No unnecessary airs of the glamour world for this woman of substance. With serials like
Balika Vadhu, Astitva Ek Prem Kahani, Hamare Tumhare,
to her acclaim, the award-winning television scriptwriter has her feet firmly on the ground. She credits her experience with script writing for giving her the strength to write a full-fledged novel
, "The amount of discipline, rigour which script writing forced me to have helped me feel strong enough to write the novel. Both writing styles aren't very different, both involve imagination and discipline, script writing is a very interactive process, many layers before the product comes in front of the viewers. But as a writer, you're completely on your own."
After writing for three years, the writer confesses that writing is a very lonesome job, "As a script-writer you're part of larger process, there're are many layers of interactions, but sometimes you don't discover your own strengths as a writer. On the other hand, as a novel writer, you're absolutely alone. Until your book is actually ready to got to the publishers, it's only you and pen, and a paper. But then it's also very fulfilling as you challenge yourself as a writer."
After scripting for serials, why did she decide to put pen to paper? "The story was haunting me too much for me to ignore it. I believe the impact of a bad marriage on psyche of a child, while growing up or life, is something we need to look at. The theme of a lost childhood is something I really care about since I have been on both sides of the fence as a child growing up in a certain setup and as a mother. I feel close to the world of children - not just the cute world but what goes on in hearts and kinds of young kids."
Animatedly talking about the issue, which is obviously close to her heart, one is tempted to ask if the story is autobiographical? "It's inspired by close personal experiences and the world which I have grown up in. The 70s and 80s was a period which saw with confusion of values gender equations in families, which is relevant today too. So, its about a lot of familiar people but its not autobiographical," she clarifies.
The brains behind some of the small screen's most gutsy woman characters like Anandi of Balika Vadhu or Dr. Simran of Astitva Ek Prem Kahani, Kottary ensures that her woman stand for something. "The way we understand the world of feminism makes me uncomfortable, my women stand for something, its a process of being vulnerable to strength. I'm happy that women in my show stand for something."
So does she see herself writing the larger than life Ekta Kapoor serials, "Well, it's not fair to her, to label her serials as a brand as she makes all kinds of serials. I have always written serials which are set in the realistic world, I don't think I can compromise on that," she pronounces.