My books should reflect what I see in society: Manju Kapur
Describing herself as a "mirror of society" kind of writer, author Manju Kapoor is hoping the series adaptation of her novel "A Married Woman" set against the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition will reflect the distress of her protagonists as well as the turmoil of the world outside.
"A Married Woman" revolves around Astha, an educated middle-class married woman whose carefully curated world starts to unravel when she meets another woman, a widow, and the gentle romance that follows. The novel, her second, flows from her first book “Difficult Daughter” that ended with Partition.
"In a way, Partition is a legacy we inherited and are still dealing with today,” the 73-year-old prolific lecturer and author told PTI weeks before the OTT release of “The Married Woman” on International Women’s Day on March 8.
"I'm not a didactic writer, I'm a mirror of society kind of writer, 'okay, this is what I see'... It's trying to understand these things, these poisons and viruses (that) grow if left unchecked, and it all starts at a personal level,” she said.
According to the author, all individual lives are affected by the circumstances -- social, political, economic -- in which they are situated.
“… first of all the outside does impact the inside... If you have something that goes as deeply as suspicion of another religion or intolerance, it may not affect your day-to-day life, but it certainly does affect the larger fabric of society and it's troubling, it's troubling that we are still dealing with this," she said.
Kapur, the winner of the 1999 Commonwealth Writers' Prize who taught English at Delhi University’s Miranda House for years, is the author of books such as "The Immigrant", "Home" and "Brothers". She is currently working on her seventh novel. She said she wants her books to reflect what she sees in society.
"Our country has all kinds of differences within it, of language, ethnicity, religion... Hopefully, we can show how all of this can be one harmonious whole."
The Delhi-based author, whose "Custody" was previously adapted by Alt Balaji for the hit TV show "Yeh Hai Mohabbatein", said the concept note from the production house seemed faithful to “A Married Woman” published in 2002.
"I was quite impressed... it fit well with what I was trying to say, the emotion that I was trying to convey, the love and the distress and even the political background," Kapur said.
Seeing the promo clip of the series that will premiere on Zee5, brought back memories of the time she wrote the book.
The theme of a woman rebelling against the traditional setup in some way or the other is something that Kapur often returns to in her books, and "A Married Woman" is no exception.
"As far as Astha, the protagonist, is concerned or so many women are concerned, you have to have your desires, but you also live with people you love and you want to get along with them. Sometimes you choose the path of least resistance, again because it's not easy to constantly battle."
This is why any kind of struggle cannot be confined to one gender alone, she said. "The battle for fairness, equality for a kind of more holistic interaction between genders, has to be something to which both sexes or genders are sensitive to, otherwise if it's just one, it's not going to work."
Words and visuals are two different mediums but Kapur is hoping the show will help people rediscover her book.
"This was my second book and I was still not so certain of myself as a writer, not the way I am now," she recalled.
Writing for her is a solitary business that involves endless revisions and endless trying to say what one wants to say in the best possible way.
"Now I know I will be read. I'm not anxious about being published or finding an audience. But the whole process is not easier, I wish it were. The difference between now and the second book is that now I know how much work this is going to involve. I know that anything worthwhile will take time."
Kapur said she understands why some writers are possessive about their story but doesn’t count herself as one of those.
"You can only be controlling up to a certain point because if it has a vibrant life of its own and you do hope that, then you can't control what is going to be done to your book," said Kapur, considered one of the most prominent English novelists in the country.
According to her, many books, including Mary Shelley's "Dr Frankenstein" and Jane Austen novels, have been adapted relentlessly.
"It means that people are relating to those books in a contemporary manner or in a manner that they feel works with them, but it also keeps the books in the public domain. The book is not lost. If you are an author, the last thing you want is for your book to disappear."
Adapted as "The Married Woman', the series features Ridhi Dogra and Monica Dogra as the central characters and notable actors, including Imaad Shah, Ayesha Raza, Rahul Vohra, Divya Seth Shah, Nadira Babbar and Suhaas Ahuja in prominent roles.
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