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Exclusive chat: Raksha Bharadia

All and Nothing by Raksha Bharadia, co-author of the Chicken Soup series, communicates about life and the unusual situations and how our inner strength tries to overcome it.

books Updated: Jan 03, 2011 11:43 IST
Divya Goyal, Hindustan Times

Raksha Bharadia is the author of the bestselling

Me: A Handbook for Life and

has co-authored the much-awaited

Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul.

Her latest book,

All and Nothing,

communicates about life and the unusual situations and how our inner strength tries to overcome it. Divya Goyal caught up with the author.

All and Nothing is your first work of fiction and you are co-author of the Chicken Soup series. Do you find fiction easier to write as compared to non-fiction?

No, writing fiction was in fact for me more difficult. When I am dealing with facts or my understanding of facts (in non-fiction), I already have a structure, a style, a perspective in mind, but with writing fiction everything goes for a toss! The characters start living their own lives and even when I am not in accordance with them I have to bow and make space for their moods…to me the difficult part was who was to decide (on a continual basis) who is right…them or me! Also the freedom that comes with fiction, carries its own cross…In fact I did far more research on my characters for this book than what I do for my non-fiction works!

You have been occupied with the self-help genre like the the Chicken Soups series. Why did you decide to write fiction? Did your earlier experience count or was it completely an uncharted territory?

Though I have done only non-fiction I always knew I would be writing novels…for me fiction speaks more truth than non-fiction. And I love what I can say as ‘Tina’ or ‘Manas’ (characters in All and Nothing) that I cannot as Raksha…

In this book you have explored a whole gamut of relationships and the insecurities in any relationship. What made you take up this subject matter?

Relationships intrigue me. I feel that whatever chance we have it is in human relationships and yet relationships are a source of extreme pain too. Relationship in today’s world is even more complex with the advent of social networking sites, channels and movies…all our ethos, morality and codes and how relevant or right they are is in itself in a flux….I enjoy how the changing world affects two dynamic individuals in a relationship…

From where do you draw your inspiration and ideas? Has there been a specific inspiration for the story of Tina?

Well many of my characters are sourced from real life, perhaps from an image, a fleeting conversation, a situation etc. but once I give them a name, they become for me a breathing living entity and dictate their own telling…

Poorvi’s character interrogates a common problem of our society: need of a male child. What is your view on the matter?

I think that even in today’s world and times with India being where it is, with the female gender and all its education, there still is this age-old craving to womb a male child…it is there!

Manas’ story shows the failure of a live-in relationship. Do you think that majority of live-in relations are unsuccessful and through this tale you wish to discourage those who are in favor of live-in relationship?

Absolutely not! I think live-in relationships has its own merits and in fact works better especially when the couples do not want a child. My Manas was the story of a person who allows his love to corrupt in the face of his ego…and of course it deals with the question of ‘exclusivity’ and how it affects a relationship.

You previously wrote a book on parenting, however in All and nothing you do not fully expound on the dilemma’s faced by a child who witness constant bickering of his parents. Why?

Haha…nice question. All and Nothing is about adult relationships…hence the limited space that Shaswati and Tammana occupied in it…

If you were to choose another connecting link to the characters than Tina, who would it be and why?

The story could be threaded through Tina only…otherwise it would simply be a book of short stories and not a novel…

Movies, such as Life.. In a Metro or the upcoming Dhobi Ghat tends to capture the essence of relationships in the urban world. Do self-help books work because of an emotional vacuum in society?

Self help books gives us a kind of ‘collective consolation’. When I read about another who has gone through failures, trials, blocks, depression, as I have, I feel less wronged, less unlucky, less incapacitated and so on. We ultimately do not feel alone in our misery…

Do you think that All and Nothing is a phenomenon common to everyone?

Yes…I think most who will read this book will at some point say…'that is me'!

First Published: Jan 03, 2011 11:43 IST