That Shweta Bachchan-Nanda has turned author seems only natural. Her grandfather Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a celebrated Hindi poet. Her father, megastar Amitabh Bachchan is extremely fond of writing, jotting down prose and verses whenever he can. Interestingly, her close friend, filmmaker Karan Johar calls her the best actor in the Bachchan family.
Minutes before her book, Paradise Towers, was unveiled last week by her parents, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Shweta talked about her experience of creating a world far removed from her own, why it took her this long and her upcoming projects.
A new fashion label, debut novel — both at 44. What took so long?
I don’t know. I was a young mother. So I was busy looking after my children for a while. It takes time for everything to germinate and it has taken me time but I am here now.
How did Paradise Towers come about?
I was writing columns for DNA and they were received well. It gave me the confidence and the practice to go on and do something bigger.
Was writing never a childhood ambition then?
It wasn’t an ambition as such but it was a practice. Even as a very young child, I have kept diaries, journals. I have always written but purely for myself.
But you have never lived in an apartment or a gated society. Would you know that world well?
It’s all observation. I may not have lived there but I have visited these places. I have spent time visiting families and friends who live in buildings and I have always kept my eyes and ears open.
Was it difficult writing Paradise Towers?
It was very difficult. You have to have a lot of discipline to get everything done. You have to fight through a lot of days of self-doubt where you feel the book is no good and you’re writing rubbish. You have to fight that. So it was interesting.
It’s also a learning moment for me. I have never done something like this before. So, for me it meant a lot of introspection and alone time with myself. But in the end, it was enjoyable. When something comes out and you read it and think you have got it alright, then you feel good about yourself. It’s creative expression. It always makes you feel good at the end.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It’s taken me a year.
From among the few people who have read the book already, what’s the best compliment you’ve received so far?
I have been told that the characters feel real. Readers have also said that they feel like they actually live in that building.
Your grandfather was a celebrated poet. Your father writes so often. Now you have your first novel published. Have your children Navya and Agastya also taken to writing?
My daughter writes poetry. But I don’t know if she is just doing it as a hobby or if it’s something that she’d like to pursue professionally.
What next? Is a second book in the pipeline?
Yes, there is a second book in my mind. MxS’s second label is also due to be out in December. So lot’s to do.
What would be the next book be about? Do you have a title?
I have the story but not the title yet. I’ll wait until I write it because I could change, the story could change. So I don’t want to say anything right now. It’s still a while to go.
What do you have to say about Indian women finally sharing their stories of sexual abuse and calling out their perpetrators?
More strength to them. We should support them.
Follow @sneha_bengani for more.