If you’re in the middle of a messy divorce, this might be good news for you. Author and soon-to-be lawyer Vandana Shah has launched India’s first divorce newsmagazine, Ex Files. It’s aimed at creating a mass support system for those involved in marital troubles.
"We decided to call it a newsmagazine because we wanted to be clear that it was neither a daily newspaper nor a boring newsletter," says Shah, a divorcee herself. She has also penned a book called 360 Degrees Back To Life – A Litigant’s Humourous Perspective On Divorce. She decided to not charge a fee for the first issue, choosing instead to flag it off with her own money.
"I launched it on my birthday, and kept wondering if it was a waste of time. But the response I received from the public proved that there was demand for the subject," explains Shah, who believes that people in India still use euphemistic terms like separation or ‘not getting along’ to cover up their divorce taboo.
"We started by distributing copies on Tuesdays at the Family Court in Bandra because that’s the day when they have maximum cases. By the second week, we had people asking for more copies of Ex Files by name," she says."Some even approached us saying that they would like to contribute," informs Shah. She even had the city’s dabbawalas distribute 5,000 copies of the magazine that has a gossip section that’s written in classic tabloid style, talking about the marital and relationship woes of the rich and famous.
"Even if people don’t want to admit it, they are interested in what celebs do," points out Shah. "We also have a ‘Superwomen of divorce’ section where we feature celebrities who’ve been through divorce, starting with Shobha De. The plan was to create role models for people to look at others who’ve managed to come out of their troubles successfully. Eventually, we plan to include real women in this section."
Shah relied on a focus group comprising 15 journalists from the print and electronic media to create the format for her newsmagazine. She also admits that having dealt with divorce proceedings for 10 years has given her an instinctive edge over what people want to read about.
"I plan to include articles by experts like psychiatrists and lawyers soon. Even the younger section of readers would like to contribute. But for now, we don’t want to make it too heavy," reasons Shah.
"You are already miserable if you’re going through a divorce. You don’t need to read something that will make you even more miserable."