Sunday, 22 May 2016

"Definition of success for me is the satisfaction of telling a wonderful story" : Kota Neelima

                                      “Politics is about every single citizen of this country” 

This mantra is what made Kota Neelima what she is today. A writer of 4 political thriller books and 1 spiritual book, she had started her journey as a political editor for The Sunday Guardian and has been so for 20 years since then. Currently with her latest release “The honest Season” ruling the bestselling charts and her 3rd book, Shoes of the dead in the run in to become a motion picture, she is also a painter by profession. In this busy schedule, Vanya’s Notebook was very lucky to have her in for a chat. Here is what transpired when Vanya’s Notebook interacted with the wonder woman herself...

Vanya’s Notebook- To start this off, I would like to first thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking out time for the interview. One of the very first things that I, as a journalist, would like to ask you is why did you take up writing on politics (in your career as a journalist and an author) when you have so many other options to write on. And that too on such controversial and yet unspoken topics such as the rural poor, democratic reforms etc?

Kota Neelima— It is a pleasure to interact with you for your blog. Politics is not just about politicians, it is about every single citizen of this country. I write about how the powerful get away with injustice, with illegalities and with neglecting the poor. As a citizen of India, I want to know who cheats this nation of its opportunities for greatness.

Vanya’s Notebook- What, according to you is a better way to reach the masses that are basically your target audience? Through the books that you write or through the newspaper articles?

KN— If journalism is the spirit of a nation, books are its soul. As a journalist and an author, I write about how the so-called solutions to issues like poverty and unequal development have failed to work. My target audience consists of those who are impatient and unwilling to obey the accepted norms. Whether I write for newspapers or in books, I reach my audience because I share their restlessness with the status quo.

Vanya’s Notebook- 5 books from 2007-2016 out of which 4 have been political thrillers while only 1 has been a spiritual book. Clearly, political thriller, a term which is coined by you is the genre you prefer writing in. Winning accolades for both the genres, can you tell us which part has been tougher- Writing a political thriller or a spiritual one? And why?

KN— I do not believe in things that come easy. My three earlier books, Riverstones (2007), Death of a Moneylender (2009) and Shoes of the Dead (2013) were about rural poor and farmer suicides, which took 10 years of research in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. This was also the beginning of my search for spiritual answers to human suffering and destiny, which led to my book on the philosophy of places of worship, Tirupati, A guide to life (2012).

Vanya’s Notebook- Riverstones, Death of a money lender, Shoes of the dead and The Honest season. For every author their books are their babies where every baby is very close to the heart. Even then, a parent is sure to have a favourite child. Which child has been the closest to your heart?

KN— Every one of my book is a piece of my heart, my soul. I do not write unless I can lose some part of me irretrievably in my books. I am the sum of all the parts, all my books.

Vanya’s Notebook- Shoes of the dead. A book which has been published in the year 2013 is getting into the news again and probably even overpowering the limelight which should be provided to your latest book, “The honest season”, because of the fact that the former is soon to be a motion picture. How did this “making into a motion picture” idea happen and what effect would that have on the sales of your latest book?

KN— I am very happy that Shoes of the Dead (2013) will be made into a movie soon and that the issue of the politics behind farmer suicides will reach a wider audience. The Honest Season (2016), my latest book, has been on airport charts for several months. The Honest Season is about corruption behind the closed doors of parliament, an issue of concern for every thinking Indian, and that could be a reason why it has become a bestseller.

Vanya’s Notebook- You are an all rounder. You love writing, you love painting, and you love to cook. All these things are ways to express yourself and what you are thinking in your own way. Which of these is the thing that you go for when you are upset? What I mean to ask is what gets you instantly charged up? And if it is something else which is not in the options, then please tell us.

KN— I write to represent the emotions of strangers, of people I have never met or may never meet. Every pain, every happiness, is a gift that belongs to someone else. I pass on the thoughts to their rightful owners, the readers, when I write.

Vanya’s Notebook- Let we be frank here. We live in a world where there are a lot of things happening to the women these days. The male chauvinism is still in existence. You have been a woman in power. By that I mean, it is not easy to be a woman journalist and a female author who speaks her heart out and who is giving the brutal truth the world is not ready to know, that too when it is something based on politics. How did you manage to gain this position, have this aura? Were there a lot of fights, back biting, pulling back in the years when you were a struggler? What are your views on the current position of women in India?

KN— A woman’s life is about battling the odds. It does not matter whether the woman works in an office or is staying at home. From the moment a girl is born in our country, she survives against odds created by family, society, religion and the law. Every woman in India is a survivor. Like any warrior, the battles a woman fights will define her.

Vanya’s Notebook- In today’s time there are a lot of people who love to express but are scared of doing so. Because they fear the society. They resort to writing their thoughts down but when they want to get it published, they do not get the exposure that is needed. Weighed down by the current trends in the market of chick-lits and other fiction, do you think the voices of the young are getting lost in the crowd? What suggestion would you want to give to those young writers who are not getting enough exposure?

KN—Definition of success for me is the satisfaction of telling a wonderful story. My advice to young writers: Don’t let number waylay you. Instead, count the number of times you smiled while writing your story and the numbers of times you cried.

Vanya’s Notebook- If given a chance to be the chief justice for a day and if whatever you say will be for the whole country to listen and to follow what changes would you like to bring?
KN— I would reward anyone who cared for the poorest and the most neglected people of this nation. I would ensure the honest, ordinary people of the country have their dreams fulfilled, and are proud to be Indian.

Vanya’s Notebook- Finally, I would request you to say a few words for your readers and for Vanya’s Notebook. It was wonderful interacting with you and I wish you all the best for the projects that are to come.

KN— Vanya’s Notebook recreates a wonderful world from the imagination of writers across the country for the readers to explore. I wish Vanya’s Notebook reaches new horizons of thought and creativity. Thank you.

 It is  very rare that we get the opportunity to talk to and to learn something from such a motivating person. If we get the opportunity, the knowledge that we acquire, lasts for a lifetime. So, here's to a wonderful and enlightening life ahead!

You can get to know more about Kota Neelima from here-

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