In one of my recent posts (link), I talked about wanting to write a book and made a promise to do a separate post on the ideas going on in my head. So here I am as promised, with my new post, rattling about all sorts of stuff. Most of my thoughts come from the gap in female characterization, both in literature and in movies, and my frustration with not being able to find female characters which project depth and confidence.
The first idea stems directly from my frustration with our movies and portrayal of female leads, whose role is usually limited to playing the hero's love interest and the damsel in distress. Few beautiful movies, like Queen (link), are of course an exception. I know there are quite a few strong, female centred movies like Zubeida, Mother India, and so on. But my point here is that a movie or a book with strong female characters doesn't have to be about a serious, err, for lack of a better word, 'issue'. We can have normal easy-breezy stories revolving around women, with strong characters, giving a different dimension and flavour to the same stories, and more importantly, adding a new, non-stereotypical, realistic/humanistic layer to female characters. You'll see what I'm getting at: Can you think of a reason why we don't see a movie like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, or a Dil Chahta Hai, or even Kai Po Che with three central female characters? Or for that matter, you can easily think of a story like Five Point Someone with three female characters. I don't see any reason at all why such stories shouldn't be told with female leads - They do have fun, maintain strong bonds of friendship, go on trips, have dreams and do other stuff, you know: women. The moment one starts looking for a multi-starrer with central female leads, we arrive at Lajja which deals with serious women's issues, or worse, with Mean Girls with its stereotypical depiction of women as shallow. I think Friends and Sex and the city were the few shows which to most part, were able to portray female bonding decently. Coming to the point, inspired from my days at Bangalore, I thought about writing a book on three young, working women living in the same flat. Of course, this would be bordering on blatant plagiarism if I didn't get an approval from my friends on this :) As I have blogged earlier too (link), I think we need to see more female roles in our literature, who are independent and are something more than the damsel in distress or the Chikni Chameli. We need more healthy female role models in popular media, like Piku (link) for our girl children to idolize, and even though there are books like Almost Single, we don't have enough of them.
My second idea is strangely, inspired from a dream. I went on a trip to Alibagh a couple of months back and I had a dream about a once upon a time kingdom, an evil king, some Goddess and one brave girl who wants to break her kingdom from suffering. When I woke up, I started narrating the dream to my husband for fun, and it helped me remember the details later (I instinctively wanted to remember). And then I toyed around with the idea of doing some short story on my dream, just for the heck of exploring the fantasy genre. Before that, I never thought I
should could even attempt fantasy genre, because it is so exceptionally difficult to come up with good work which sounds original in that genre. But this story-writing was just for my own fun, so I thought about the story line, and then I thought some more. Finally, it evolved into this complete, complex and I hope, original material for a full length epic-novel-sort-of-thing, which a short story will not do justice to. Whatever I have in my mind about this book now, is mostly developed during the ferry trip back from Alibagh. I cannot give away the plot details here, but the theme is going to be decidedly feminist and I hope to give a good alternative to existing mythology, with my anti-thesis to Paradise Lost and Ramayana in terms of the portrayal of the heroines. The tone will be dark, deep and poignant (not sure about the extent of darkness I can really penetrate), but not gory. The novel will start off in a dystopian setting intended to convey something meaningful, like a Handmaid's Tale, but it will have a 'happy ending', like anyone who knows me can guess... Ssshhh!!
I had another random, funny thought which came along when I was thinking about the earlier work, in the same ferry. May be my mind wanted some escape from thinking too much about serious subjects, so in came into my head this cute five year old kid, doing really cute, funny but clever stuff. I am tentatively naming this work as 'Detective Daisy'. Don't ask why! That was the first name I could automatically think of in the ferry and I stuck with it. I am not clear on what exactly I should do with this little kid. In fact, I have still not zeroed in on her age, but I am thinking five is a good intelligible age to start with for doing really cute stuff. I considered starting off with short strips like Ramu and Shamu (if you don't know, look up Tinkle), but I am also considering doing full length stories like Home Alone, so that's not figured out yet. Children's literature and humor, though underrated, are really tough areas because one has to relate with how children are like, and when you declare that your work is humorous, there is a definitive way to measure how good it is. Whatever I do, thinking about this kid always brings a smile on my face so I am going to chill and let my imagination take over.
And then there are a few more ideas which are not fully developed yet, and I am not sure if I feel strongly about pursuing them, but I am listing them here anyway, in case any of them translates into something more concrete:
I thought of doing a simple, biographical (not auto-biographical) column on this blog called B.I.T.C.H (Babe In Total Control of Herself) Chronicles. In keeping with my repeatedly declared agenda to fill the gap in our literature's portrayal of women, it is meant to be about a single woman, with simple, interesting episodes of her day-to-day life, expectedly going beyond the stereotypical understanding.
There are times when I feel very philosophical about life and about everything in general. I thought of doing a book which shows the evolution of the lead character with time, reflecting the lessons learnt from life. I wanted it to combine self reflection and passion, to bring out the underlying story. I don't have it all clear and sorted, but let me see - If it gets more interesting, my mind will take it forward.
Romance is a genre which I may want to consider exploring sometime, and I am in two minds on this one. My normal self would like to do something really sweet (just about falling short of mushy), but my unusual self wants to explore the dark side of love and relationships. It could still be romantic and yet dark, portraying the real complexities involved in a relationship.
Like I said, sometimes I get into this very philosophical mode, and I might do my own collection of short pieces, about what it is like to be a tree, or a dog, or to live in the sky, or what the world will be like hundreds of years from now and things like that. I have no idea what I am talking about. May be something like Chicken Soup for the Soul. This is the first time I am considering doing a work which is non-fiction.
One last idea: I feel that sex has never been looked at seriously enough from the point of view of female pleasure. In fact, female pleasure was not even considered a few decades before, and the feminist in me takes objection to this. Inspired by the Sex and the City (which I have been watching diligently of late), I suddenly had this thought: About doing a series of anonymous interviews with many women who can share their experiences on the subject uninhibitedly, and publish the collection with the main findings. Judge for all you want, but I think it's a good idea, though I am not sure if I have the guts to do it.
These are all for now. The list looks pretty random, and may want to make you laugh. Honestly, I am not really sure if I am ever going to find time to finish or even start on any of these works, but some of them are definitely worth giving a try.
As always, any opinions are most welcome :)
1) These are the stories which we should tell our children!! - link
2) A long wishlist - link