'I think women just like bad boys!'
Author and journalist Chandrima Pal who launched her book, A Song for I at an event in Mumbai, talked about music, musicians and just why women fall for rockstars!
Journalists, they say, are aspiring novelists and Chandrima Pal is probably no exception to the rule. A senior editor at Mumbai Mirror, Pal recently released her debut novel, A Song for I at an event in Mumbai's Crossword book store.
Bollywood film director Imtiaz Ali released the book that has music as its focal point. Ali's connection with music goes back more than just his last film Rockstar. Pal tells us that much before he made his foray into Bollywood, the young Imtiaz Ali was initiated into classical music. As it happened he gave it up for, you guessed it, cricket!
A Song for I tells the story tells the story about Ira, an amateur sitar player and freelance journalist born to a mother, who chose to die rather than live under her husbands shadow and her desire to make peace with her past. As she invites herself into the life of her estranged father, Himadri, an ambitious and successful sitar player Ira finds herself being sucked into his world of aspiration, as he makes desperate attempts to preserve his musical legacy through his daughter.
Read an excerpt here!
Interestingly, Pal hails from a renowned family of musicians and is married to a guitarist.
While her father Pandit Barun Kumar Pal is a noted classical musician and a disciple of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, her uncle has toured with George Harrison and collaborated with several established Indian musicians.
But unlike her musical family, Pal chose a different career and started off as a radio jockey. A short stint in advertising was followed by her foray into journalism fifteen years ago.
The place is teeming with shoppers, a bunch of fans of Imtiaz Ali and friends of Pal who've turned up to lend support to the debutante author.
People who have walked in the bookstore unaware of the event in progress, are pleasantly surprised to spot the Rockstar director so close to them (he's the only well-known face around) and stop periodically to listen to him.
As the event progresses, youngsters flit around the gathering, checking out books, records and stationery, occasionally wondering why there are so many people gathered around.
Dressed in an electric blue sari and sitting next to Imtiaz Ali, Pal wears an easy smile and beams every time she spots a familiar face in the gathered crowd or when someone compliments her for her work.
Imtiaz is introduced to the crowd with an interesting trivia because, as the host for the evening puts it, the man needs no introduction.
Few people know that Ali had a brief role in Anurag Basu's 2004 film Black Friday and also edits films whenever time permits.
Ali and Pal take turns to read several excerpts before they engage in a discussion about musical influences in their lives and how it reflects in their respective works.
It's during the discussion that follows the reading session that Ali recounts the problems he and his crew faced while shooting for Kun faya kun, a critically acclaimed song from his film Rockstar.
While the song is peaceful and meditative in tone, the making was anything but that. While the song is peaceful and meditative in tone, the making was anything but that. According to the filmmaker, the crew was told upon arrival that they couldn't use certain equipments or disturb visitors, which understandably led to much stress.
The duo also exchange notes on how they describe music in their respective mediums. During the course of the conversation, Pal mentions that Ali was initiated into classical music at an early age but gave it up as he gravitated more towards cricket as a kid.
Pal reveals that it was during a sabbatical from work that she started developing the story after toying with different writing styles.
"Music has been such an integral part of my life, when I decided to tell a story, it had to be about music."
The floor is soon opened for audience questions. "What is it about rockstars that makes them so desirable to women?" asks a gentleman from the crowd. (Pal is married to one)
"I think women just like bad boys," Pal chuckles. As if reconsidering her answer, she replies, "It's their attitude that sets them apart from the rest."
When asked why she chose to write fiction for her debut novel instead of non-fiction (as is the norm with journalists turning authors), Pal says, "I wrote this book because I needed to get the story out of my system.
"I may write non-fiction later, when I'm better prepared and get time to properly research for material. Non-fiction requires a certain kind of discipline that I don't have yet."
Meenal Baghel editor of Mumbai Mirror, whose book Death In Mumbai -- an exhaustive account of the Neeraj Grover murder case and the trial that followed - was published last year, throws in a question.
"Was there ever a conflict about the book becoming too autobiographical?" she asks.
Pal nods, as if instantly recalling the conflict she faced while writing the book. "Initially I thought it was the easiest thing to do, to draw from one's own experiences while writing. But when I actually got down to write, I was scared because I was wondering how people would see it. Writing a book is like bringing up a child," she begins.
"You are always conscious of whether the child will grow up to become too much like you. I had those doubts too initially but there came a point when I just decided to let the story flow and not fret over these things," she says.
When someone asks Pal about her next book, she throws a cautious glance at Baghel, who is her boss at Mirror, and chuckles, "My boss has been gracious enough to let me be through draft after draft of my first book. I think I'll take a break from that for now."
Photograph Courtesy: WizSpk Communication
Video: Afsar Dayatar/Rediff.com
Image: Chandrima Pal with Imtiaz Ali