Shifting Medium

The first job after her return from the US had writer Advaita Kala shift her bag and baggage to Kolkata.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Published: February 3, 2012 12:39 am

Author Advaita Kala,who has penned the story of the suspense-thriller Kahaani,plans to release it as a novel later

The first job after her return from the US had writer Advaita Kala shift her bag and baggage to Kolkata. Struck by the chaos and poverty,and faced with language barrier,the fresh-out-of-college Delhi girl was overwhelmed. “One day,I could not find an auto to travel to work and I hailed a manual rickshaw instead. But I felt extremely guilty about the human labour. I got off well before my destination and decided to walk. The rickshaw-wala realised what was on my mind and demanded Rs 150 as opposed to the Rs 50 we had agreed on. It muddled my sense of who in this situation was being exploited,” she recollects. Such memories of the city and many others aspects of it,make for the chaotic milieu in the film Kahaani,which Kala has penned.

The film,a story of a pregnant woman’s search for her husband through the bylanes of this old city,has Vidya Balan play the protagonist and will release on March 9. The film begins with London-based,seven-month pregnant Vidya Bagchi’s arrival in Kolkata amidst the Durga Puja festivities. With nothing to rely on except fragments of her husband’s memories,all clues seem to reach a dead end. Vidya begins to realise that nothing is what it seems. Due to the element of suspense,Kala cannot divulge most part of the story or reveal the name of the actor who plays the husband. “All I can say is that at the core of all my stories is a woman’s search for her husband,” laughs the author of Almost Single.

The character of Vidya Bagchi,like Kala,has returned to India after many years and is unfamiliar with Kolkata. It was the need for extensive research about the city that compelled Kala to take up the challenge of writing this thriller. “I was also keen to explore a space that does not overlap with my previous works,” says the writer,referring to her book and the film Anjaana Anjaani,which was also penned by her.

Her debut film,in a space similar to her book,failed to impress the critics. Tongue-in-cheek,Kala says,“I can do things right only once. This is also why the idea of writing a suspense thriller held an appeal.” The film’s concept evolved over meetings with director Sujoy Ghosh. Even before the story and script were finalised,they had zeroed in on Balan to play the lead role. Kala hence wrote the story keeping the actress in mind. “I spent some time with her. What struck me most was that Vidya has a sense of both strength and vulnerability,which is also how the character is,” she explains.

Comfortable with the format of a novel,Kala initially wrote Kahaani in 185 pages,which she intends to publish later in the year. She is also working on a series of Almost Single novellas. “I continue to receive letters from fans asking me to write a sequel. The series,instead,can explore various facets of a single girl’s life,” adds the author. Meanwhile,Kala has taken up a day job in the hospitality sector,which is where she began her career. “This allows me to be the moody artiste,” she quips.

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