Amritsar girl Kanika Dhillon is now a famous name, for not just authoring a book that became a bestseller (Bombay Duck is a Fish, 2011), but for also being roped in by superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment to write scripts. Out with her second book now, titled Shiva and the Rise of the Shadows, which will be launched on September 20 at the Pune International Literary Festival, Kanika talks about her latest work of fiction, her love for reading and working in Bollywood.
Set in post-nuclear war era, Shiva and the Rise of the Shadows is a fantasy thriller where the earth is on the brink of extinction and all hopes are pinned on a few teenagers, especially Shiva, who are discovering their powers. "Shiva is the descendant of a powerful god and tracked down by a secret society of keepers. He gets the option of choosing two paths. Which path he chooses and how he explores it will touch every reader and inspire the youngster," elaborates Kanika on her book, a Duckbill publishing, which took two years to write.
After wrapping up post graduation from the London School of Economics, UK, Kanika headed to Mumbai in 2006. In her leisure time, she had been penning a few stories, she tells us, which got her the job of an assistant director at Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment. Her creativity and imagination helped her bag golden opportunities there, in not just writing stories but also the screenplay and dialogues of some of Khan’s biggest blockbusters. She was the screeplay writer and co-storywriter of Ra.One, assisted choreographer-film director Farah Khan in Om Shanti Om and worked as a script supervisor for the film Billu Barber. Later, Kanika was made the content head at Red Chillies Entertainment. For film and TV producer Ekta Kapoor, Kanika served as vice president, films.
It is her habit of reading that helped her to be a good writer, says Kanika. “Reading is nutrition for me. Meanwhile, writing defines me, helps me explore myself and at the same time challenges me as an artist to experiment and reinvent. But, I always ensure that whatever I write must touch the hearts of readers like music does,” she adds. Currently, Kanika is busy writing novels and screenplays for different films. She is presently working on a screenplay for an upcoming film by Sujoy Ghosh, director of the film Kahaani.
For reaching where she has, Kanika says she is grateful to her mother and two English teachers. “I have no words to thank my lovely mother and my two English teachers, Pratibha ma’am and Aruna ma’am from school who encouraged me so much.”
For the footloose youngsters, Kanika has this to say: “It is good to break rules, to question the authority and to flout the norms that confine our dreams and passions. I would request parents to support their children’s talent. It has been rightly said, ‘A bird never flew on one wing’.”
More on the author and her books
1) The novel, Shiva and the Rise of the Shadows, is priced at `250, and can be ordered online too.
2) Two more books are in the pipeline, says Kanika, one of them titled Size Zero, which will also be turned into a film with a background in Amritsar.
3) Last year, Kanika was honoured at the HT annual youth summit — Top 30 Under 30 — for being a successful and driven youngster.