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Q & A
Published: Volume 19, Issue 5, May, 2011

Gajra Kottary

Gajra Kottary,
Broken Melodies

The book showcases the angst of a parental relationship and how it affects their young daughter. How symptomatic is this of todayís times?
Extremely. Although the book is set in the Delhi of the 1970s and í80s, things havenít changed much, especially in Indian middle class homes. With there being so many issues between couples, the effect on children is getting more and more devastating. Imagine the impact it has on a child today when he/she sees a bitter custody battle between his/her parents. It creates warped impressions in the childís mind and puts into question the childís faith in love, marriage and life itself. Having said that, Broken Melodies is fiction, so I am not preaching anything; I am only portraying a story. The conclusions are for the reader to draw.

How much did you dip into your personal experiences for this, your first novel?
Quite a bit actually, though I have tried hard not to be self-indulgent. I grew up in that era, so in terms of the authenticity of setting I have hugely drawn on it. Some personal and emotional experiences are there too. But a lot of it is fiction thatís carefully fused into reality, to be able to make it a finer read.

Was it easy to make the transition from short stories and scriptwriting to a novel?
It wasnít easy. With scriptwriting for television being virtually a round-the-clock activity, it was tough to keep the focus and continuity of thought that is required for writing a novel. I conceptualised all the chapters, made notes whenever I could, on my car rides to work, sometimes even on the treadmill.

How much of scriptwriting has permeated into your novel?
Friends and family say that the book is very visual because of my scriptwriting habit, and that is a good thing, for itís nice to think that the readers will feel my characters coming alive as they read.


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