Paulami, When you first started writing, what was the reason behind it? Why writing?
I started writing because I had a day job, eight hours at a desk and actually nothing much to do. I wonder why the company was even paying me all the money. And then on one bored weekday I switched on the TV, saw Gurmeet Choudhary, fell in love, started writing and wrote about fifty plus fan fictions in a year. There were a group of friends, the supportive sisterhood nudged me to write my first book.
You are the scriptwriter of two national award winning films, has that in any way affected your writing? Do you think people expect more from you now? Does that scare you?
I think people need to know me to expect more from me. They don’t and therefore I live in my world of laziness and follow my pace in creating things. What scares me is the inner voice that criticizes each story I write.
How has your upbringing in the North East affected your way of looking at the world?
My stories do have little takes from the North East. I am emotional about NE, however I wouldn’t say my formative years there have made my views what they are today.
We know you are one of the very few writers who openly express their political views, have you ever faced any problems due to that?
Not directly, but I realize I am not very popular because of the kind of views I share or the ideology I support. But if I were put a gag on my views, I would have to give up writing and expression completely. There are ‘well meaning’ friends that inbox, reminding me to not make political posts, say I might lose out on opportunities , not get invited to events. But that’s what my battle is against. So I send emoticons in reply and move on to the next political post.
Tell me something about your new book, Onaatah. How did the journey begin.
The decision to adapt the film into a book was taken after the film had released in the theatre and had run housefull for a few weeks. I wanted more people to know Onaatah’s tale. Onaatah a rape survivor takes a journey that ends unexpectedly. The tale questions class polarization, and is about the new relationships that Onaatah develops as she begins to heal and leave the sordid past behind her.
How difficult was it to turn a script into a book?
There are lot of supporting characters in this story that could not be given screen space. So this was my chance to write their story. After thirty plus drafts of the screenplay and forty plus views of the film, I would be lying if I say it was difficult to write the book. I was only worried about doing justice to the plot, since the film was lauded for the performances of the actors. I am still worried.
Now let me ask you some light hearted one liners…
Paulami as a girlfriend is…. cranky, opinionated, emotional
Favourite writer… currently Suchitra Bhattacharjee
What makes you angry… ah this will be long. Hypocrisy mostly of our anointed liberals and intellectuals, pretending terrorism doesn’t exist or will go away with a placard, selective feminism, aping the west blindly, people who judge others by the quality of English they speak, waste of public money etc etc etc.
Something that is very dear to you… self respect.
Latest celebrity crush… Rajyavardhan Rathore.
A book that you hated… The God of Small Things.
Best way of taking revenge… Uff now don’t inspire me to take revenge on people. I don’t forgive and particularly never forget.
Going back to writing, we all know it’s a lonely job and without the support of you family it can be extremely difficult, tell us how important your family has been in your writing career.
A writer or any creative person, anybody who wants to build a start up etc need space and peace to work. That is where the family comes in. It is not that I do not have heated debates at times with my parents due to my cranky lifestyle. But at the end of the day they support me, and have been doing that for five years now.
Before I let you go, share some of your favorite writing tips for aspiring authors.
I am somebody who has never been to a writing school, never attended a writing workshop. For me writing is about looking around, picking up real characters, research on geography, socio-political scenario, and of course eavesdropping, watching a lot of films, reading books and articles. In short anything that supplies fresh plots to me. I may be the wrong person to share writing tips with aspiring authors, but I would just say this- each author has a unique style of writing and never be ashamed of the way you write. And of course the initial days are all about rejection slips and judgmental people, scathing criticism etc. Just keep writing.
Author Bio: Paulami DuttaGupta is a novelist and screenwriter. She has worked as a radio artist, copywriter, journalist and a television analyst at various stages of life, having been associated with AIR Shillong, The Tmes Of India- Guwahati-Shillong Plus, ETV Bangla, The Shillong Times, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines.
Paulami also writes on Politics, social issues and cinema. Her articles have appeared in Swarajya, The Forthright, NElive, The Frustrated Indian and Mumbai Mom. Paulami’s first film as a screenwriter, Ri-Homeland of Uncertainty, was awarded the National Award for the Best Khasi Film at the 61st National Film Awards. A Thousand Unspoken Words, her fourth book, was published by Readomania. Onaatah -Of the earth is an adaptation of the National Award winning film by the same name. Onaatah was awarded the Best Khasi Film at the 63rd National Film Awards.
She is currently writing the screenplay of Iewduh, a khasi film, and working on a couple of short films.