Switching Screenshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/switching-screens/

Switching Screens

What should one expect from the first work of fiction by a television screenplay writer? A story replete with loads of melodrama,complicated relationships and kitchen politics would be an easy guess.

After dabbling in TV,just-turned-novelist Gajra Kottary dreams of a film based on her book

What should one expect from the first work of fiction by a television screenplay writer? A story replete with loads of melodrama,complicated relationships and kitchen politics would be an easy guess. Fortunately,Gajra Kottary,co-writer of popular show Balika Vadhu on Colors,surprises the reader with her book,Broken Melodies (Harper Collins,Rs 299),that is far removed from these elements. The book was launched in Delhi,last week,by actor Anupam Kher at the India Habitat Centre.

The novel set in Delhi of the 1970s and ’80s explores the lost childhood of Niyati,the protagonist,who lives in a dysfunctional family. Pacey,emotional,humorous and realistic,unlike the shows that she works on,the novel is an easy read and keeps one hooked to it. “I was born and brought up in Delhi and the city holds a very important place in my life. I took two-and-a-half years to write the book,while I was simultaneously working in television,” says Kottary,who incidentally started her career as a journalist. The book has been launched in Hindi as well. Titled Bikhre Sur,it has been translated by Sonal Mitra. “I do not want to box myself in any one medium — I love working in television,

I have done films with Mahesh Bhatt and now a book,” she adds.

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Talk to her about her television career and her face lights up. It was Balika Vadhu that made Colors the number one channel in India and was a trendsetter of sorts. “After the mega success of the show,I was lured by many production houses with three times higher remuneration offered to write a similar show,” says Kottary. Even though Balika Vadhu is now losing its loyal viewership,the author feels “the show is too successful to shut shop so easily”.

Apart from Anandi’s tale,Kottary is credited with the script of critically-acclaimed show Astitva – Ek Prem Kahani,that aired on Zee TV in 2002. “I would love to do Astitva… all over again,” she says.

After reminiscing about her initial years as a TV script writer,Kottary consciously returns to her book as soon as Kher says,“It is a great book and it will be a great film one day. Will I get a role?” Kottary also has a dream cast ready in her mind,with the “vintage” Mahesh Bhatt as the director,Avika Gor as the young protagonist,apart from actor Kunal Kapoor and Anupam Kher.