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Archive for July, 2008

All aspiring screenwriters out there, interested in writing a comedy on television, I’m looking for an assistant.

Essential Qualifications:

  • You must be a resident of Bombay, preferably, living within a one hour periphery of say, Seven Bungalows, Andheri west. As you all know, given the traffic, you could be in Lokhandwala and it can still be challenge to travel two kilometres in that time. So go figure.
  • You must be willing to set your personal life aside. Birthdays, anniversaries, deaths. No exceptions. If you commit to writing an episode and then leave me hanging at the last minute, remember, I’ll do the same with your moneies.

And now, the not so essential qualifications:

  • You must love writing.
  • You must have a knack for storytelling.
  • You must have a basic understanding of screenwriting. And by that I don’t mean you need to have experience.

If you think you meet the requirements, please drop me a line at my email address given on the sidebar. Give your name, background and phone number.

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Right now I’m looking for a killer opening line for my next book along the lines of, “The scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of unrequited love” and “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” the opening lines of Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) and Anna Karenina (Tolstoy).

But since it is not exactly the great literary novel it should be cheesy as well. And funny. Basically smartassy. Maybe something like, “There are three shots on my body – two lead and one bourbon.”

Except it is also a female PI, so maybe something chicklitty. And Not something like, “I didn’t know whether flutter in the pit of my stomach was him or just me ovulating.”

For those of you who keep procrastinating, I got a nice one for you guys. But before I get into it, a little bit of background. Sinclair Lewis was supposed to lecture a bunch of would-be writers. For those of who don’t know, Sinclair Lewis was a famous American writer and I think, the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Anyway, when it came Sinclair Lewis’s turn to speak, he staggered to the podium, gazed drunkenly at the crowd of eager faces, and said, “You dumb sonsabitches wanna write? Well, g’wan the hell home and write”!

There is only so much guidance anyone can give you. At the end of the day you have to write, trash, rewrite stuff. You have to develop your own style. And go easy on yourself.

Let’s face it, If you haven’t written before, it’s hardly likely that you will write scintillating prose. Notice I don’t say won’t write scintillating prose. You never know when someone might just do so on his/her debut attempt, just to make you eat your words.

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We had a writer’s workshop over the weekend. Everybody was gloomy because of the weather so we thought that we’d do something fun to cheer them up. So we asked people to write about their first love affair. And if they hadn’t had one (we are talking about writers, not jocks), to write about crushes and unrequited loves.

That, and the fact that I’m getting a lot of feedback about the sex in Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions got me thinking about my first love affair.

I was a terribly model student in school. First in class. Good at sports. And get this, I got straight 100/100s in math in all term exams.

Since model students don’t exactly set guys’ aflame with desire, no one liked me romantically. Actually, correct that. No one liked me. In any which way. Period. Of course that didn’t stop me from having huge crushes (largely unreciprocated) on them.

It hurt. I mean there’s only so much rejection a person can take. But I consoled myself by saying it takes a brave guy to like a girl who is smarter and can run or swim faster than him. And that it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wore glasses and had zits on my face the size of grapes.

No one told me about toothpaste which is supposedly the best cure for zits. So I went through quite a few angst ridden years trying everything from homeopathy to antibiotics. Once I even scrubbed my face to within an inch of my skull.

Anyway, it happened during the course of my daily tennis game. There was this guy who (gasp!) liked me. My friends always went nudge-nudge-wink-wink whenever he appeared. I hadn’t seen this guy and though, outwardly I pretended I didn’t care, secretly I was thrilled to bits. I preened a little bit unobtrusively.

My friends teased me on and on about him. They called him Bakasur. I didn’t see why they called him Bakasur. I mean Bakasur was this demon, right?

Then I put on my glasses. Yikes! He was U-G-L-Y.

But he also liked me. The only guy to do so, so far. What was I going to do? Snub him and jeopardise all chances of future happiness? Or embrace him and, therefore, a chance at happily ever after?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I did. But there was another problem. How was I going see him without making it obvious that I was desperate?

So we took to meeting at the only place deserted enough in the evenings – the ping pong room at the officers’ club. Of course, I wouldn’t let him touch me. So he expressed his affection for me the only way he could – by smashing ping pong balls into my body.

Sometimes we met in the library in the science section. Once in while he also treated me to a bottle of cola, signed under someone else’s name.

This went on for about six months. But then my dad was posted out and our little romance was nipped in the bud. This was my first love affair and I won’t tell you how old I was. Mostly because I am embarrassed about how old I actually was.

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Financial Express – Sunday, July 27, 2008

To read the more legible online verison, click here.

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Saturday July 26, 2008

Smita Jain describes her racy, irreverent, impossibly-named book, “Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions”, as “chick lit meets whodunit. If you look at mysteries featuring a woman investigator, they have elements of chick lit. There would be romance and work problems. I am huge fan of murder mysteries. So I thought it would be good to marry the genres together.”

Smitha writes for television. “I work better on thrillers or youth-oriented stuff. Chick lit is an extension of my telly work. Self-deprecating humour comes naturally to me. I wrote for the new ‘Karamchand’ and ‘Darna Mana Hai’. Whenever I tried my hand at drama, the feedback would always be to ‘up the drama quotient’. So I created Kkrishnaa who is writing this prime time soap, “Kkangan Souten Ke”. I wrote four to five chapters and then took a break. I needed to figure out if I wanted to go the traditional chick lit route or take on a totally different track.”

Read More at:

http://www.hindu.com/mp/2008/07/26/stories/2008072651900900.htm

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I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show yesterday. And yes, if you haven’t got it by now, I do watch a lot of television.

You know how these talk shows are. The host usually does a stand up act for about 10-15 minutes and the rest of it is usually actors, singers, performers promoting something.

Yesterday, there was this promotion for the ‘Survivor’ kids called Kidnation or something, and a couple of kids came on the show along with their moms. And they were their usual smart ass selves. The kids, not the moms :).

Okay so I’m not a big fan of kids either.

But the interesting bit came later when one of the viewers asked the kidnation moms questions. The questions were the usual ones – was it tough letting your child go alone for forty days, were you concerned about their safety and welfare without adult supervision etc. And then one viewer asked, “Whose decision was it?”

Ellen clarified, “You mean which parent’s?”

The viewer said, “No I meant the kids or the parents.”

Ellen was taken aback. “Oh, I think the parents. Cos I don’t think the parents would have insisted if the kids didn’t want to go.” Her tone had an implicit duh! in it.

She wouldn’t have been so derisive if she knew my father. In fact, we had our own ‘survivor’ incident when I was in my teens. Except we called it ‘survival’ incident.

The Army was organising a ten day survival camp for officers’ kids. Now my dad, who was all about competing and excelling and being perfect at everything, was keen that I go.

I wasn’t. By the way, I wasn’t quite doing high jumps at the prospect then but I would highly recommend it to all women.

I was eventually led out of my house with a lot of kicking and screaming. Him, not me. “For God’s sake, it’s just a camp!”

On my part there was just imploring. “But papa, it’s a survival camp! They put you up in the jungle with spiders and snails and other creepy-crawlies! What if get bitten by a scorpion or something?”

“So what? Other kids are also doing it.”

“Yes, but the other kids are also doing sex and drugs!”

“Don’t be a smartass. And being stung by a scorpion is not going to kill you.”

Notice he didn’t say anything about it not being incredibly painful.

And then he started on, “When I was doing the commando course…”

And I hastily said, “About scorpions, they do have antidotes at the camp, right papa?”

Anyway, I went to camp (as if I had a choice) where they taught us how to kill chickens. With bare hands.

This according to me was a useless exercise considering chickens are domesticated animals and therefore, hardly likely to be found in the jungle. Now wild boars would have been something else.

But I did learn how to snap a chicken’s neck. A story I would never tell my grandmother who would suffer a coronary thinking just about a Jain girl, her granddaughter killing living beings.

But it is a story I love to tell men, especially the ones I want to get rid of. Sometimes I dare them to a competition as well. It works every time. I guess survival camp teaches you how to survive in all kinds of jungles.

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So this journalist calls me yesterday to ask me what I thought about the rise of the ladki lit. Quoting verbatim from some article: “Ten years after the publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary, the genre of fiction most recognisable for its pink cover art of stilettos, martini glasses and lipsticks, is now being colourfully infused with bindis, saris, and bangles,” she asked me what I thought about the rise of ladki lit.

Back up a moment here. Ladki lit?

“You know, Indian chick lit,” she clarified.

Ye gads!

But when I think about it, I kinda like it in a reverse snobbery kinda way. You know, like we all liked Govinda-David Dhawan comedies. Someone. Anyone!! NO ONE????!!!

Okay, so that was just me.

So far, chick lit had been sub categorised into Mom lit, Mystery lit, Wedding lit, Latina lit, Teen lit and so on to give every woman what some snobbish anonymous editor claimed in Boston Weekly Digest, ‘a chance for women of every colour and age to be portrayed as annoying, shallow twits.’ Methinks, this is editor is also one of two things:

  • a) An unpublished author who masterpiece was rejected in favour of a chicklit novel, or
  • b) A published author whose literary masterpiece failed to garner a quarter of the sales of say a Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding.

(There is a reason this editor chooses to remain anonymous)

But I digress.

Coming back to the point, it’s only natural that the term would find an Indian avatar. And it does. I’m just thankful it’s not laundiya lit.

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