Raj and Simran are the two halves of a perfect couple, and their relationship almost aspirational. Straight out of Bollywood, these two have defined romance for almost two decades now.
But author Gajra Kottary’s Raj-Simran from her latest novel are nothing like the perfect pair. In Once Upon a Star (Harper Collins India, Rs 350), which was released on December 16, the two quarrel and eventually split. The only filmy connection that the two estranged lovers have is that Raj is a Bollywood star and Simran a star wife.
“I wanted to write about the human faces behind the glamour, minus the sensationalism. I have an affinity towards stories of crumbling marriages, and I see Bollywood closely, hence the set-up. As a star, one can’t even grieve properly because of the presence of media.
This book is about how sometimes things look perfect, but they aren’t,” says Kottary, whose first novel Broken Melodies released in 2011. Set in the ’70s, Broken Melodies was semi-autobiographical and narrated the story of a dysfunctional family.
While the 49-year-old is trying to find her feet as a writer, she’s quite the pro in the television world. Kottary is the story developer of popular show Balika Vadhu, and is currently also working on another daily soap titled Satrangi Sasural on Zee TV.
Her in-depth understanding of complex relationships was first seen in Zee TV’s Astitva, a mature love story about a man falling in love with an older woman. Kottary developed the story and also wrote the screenplay of Astitva. The show was appreciated by critics and masses alike.
“It was 14 years ago and TV was so refreshing back then. Now, a certain boredom has crept in because of the increasing number of channels. While it’s frustrating, TV does give you a lot of money. I only do a show or two at a time, so I can pursue writing, which is extremely fulfilling,” says Kottary.