Q: Tell us about Sadhana Ramaani.
A: Sadhana is the pen name for Deepa. Her love for storytelling compelled her to learn writing and complete her first novel: Fortune Fair. She works as a Program Manager in the IT field for a large healthcare company in the US.
Q: How did you pick up writing?
A: When growing up, did not realize I had the art of storytelling until friends appreciated it during college years. After many years of working in IT, and the stories revolving in my mind all the time and the inkling to write pushed me farther. I conceived the idea of Fortune Fair. Being oblivious to writing, I then read a lot of books on writing (how-to) and came up with Fortune Fair outline. Rest is developing the story and publishing it.
Q: The inspiration behind your writing.
A: I believe in a larger purpose in life than working, building a career, parenting, etc. And my love and appreciation toward women and children grew with me over the years. If I am able to influence or impact at least one person, I would be very happy, when it came to making women gain strength, demand the respect they deserve, and be bold and strong. A lot of things that are said in our famous epic- Mahabharatha, Ramayana are very useful but each one of us interpreted differently, in other words, incorrectly. (That is what we see in Swathi’s father’s characterization). Relationships are both a boon and a bane. When we are able to put up the patience to gain love in a beautiful relationship; father/daughter, husband/wife, with siblings, friends, that is the most rewarding and joyous life for anyone.
The expression of an author; who is a strange person, in the beginning, is possible only through words in writing. So, I took writing as a medium to help my passion grow with me.
Q: You chose a topic that’s not very common, yet there have been movies based on the same, the quintessential Indian groom – egoist and chauvinist. Didn’t you think it would become a mere repetition?
A: I have conceived the idea and feel strongly about it. Whether there were movies made or not, did not come to my mind. I have always lived and talked with the characters when developing the story and they still live with me. If you carefully observe the groom here, he is not egoist, but he has certain desires/expectations from his spouse, as most commonly men have and it complicates further because of his life in the US. He becomes egoistic with situations. All the characters in the story evolve, transform either good/bad depending on the situations. The one that is able to battle and win over the situations (Swathi very patiently does) is the real warrior and achiever.
There is a possibility of one or two plot points matching to an already said story or already done movie, each writer conceives a story a certain way, and writes them a certain way. The ultimate message would be different, execution is different. Maybe there are a couple of coinciding points because of the plot type, but not a repetition by any means.
Q: Another aspect of the above which you painted was that of patriarchal society. Swathi’s father is cruel and I literally hate him for doing what he did and what he didn’t. Do you think such society still exists?
A: From an author’s point of view, Father’s character is not patriarchal. He is stuck in a belief system that lost its rationale of good and bad. That is the society that exists just not in India, everywhere. We as humans get easily sucked into some conviction and quickly lose the sense of it. That is exactly what the father does in the story and realizes slowly and pretty late. It is because of the deep-rooted belief system he has.
Q: The character of Swathi is meek, very meek if I must say. I personally have never come across such a lead. Why did you make her so? Wouldn’t a little courage have been better for her?
A: Swathi is a unique, strong, beautiful character. From the author’s point, she is the strongest woman. Strong does not mean yelling, talking back, fighting for silly things. Her love and respect are profound, all the exercises in the story are her discipline of mind, more than her behavior. She does not jump into conclusions. She allows herself time to gain and give respect to her husband as they both are strangers in an arranged marriage. She considers marriage a sacred relationship and treats her husband with respect he deserved regardless of whether he gives it back or not. She is kind, yet a strong lady. You will see her make decisions in her life that doesn’t negatively impact anyone in her life nor hurt anyone. She does take a very bold decision of leaving her husband and going back to her father despite the fact he would not accept her. That is courage, but she would take time, understand, allow time in a relationship before she makes that decision. This kind of patience, perseverance is courage, strength only a few have.
Notice the subtle expression of love from her husband as she walks away from him did not move her even a tiny bit. That is courage.
Q: The ending that I was expecting was that Swathi would get back to Raj and live happily after. You seemed to have given her a long lonely life instead. Why?
A: Yes, that is a typical ending and would have satisfied the reader more. Swathi’s love for Raj is divine, the love remains eternal in her heart for him. She in a way deceived him, by suddenly leaving him alone without being able to say a word. And she felt that Raj deserved someone better. Raj’s love is pure, that is why he is able to accept her decision. Pure love is acceptance of each other’s opinions.
Swathi does not have a long lonely life. She shaped her life the way she likes it, gaining her love from Priya, Raj, her father, and even impressing Kiran will explain a lot of the charming, strong character. She continues her writing which is what she loved the most. So, she is not left with a long, lonely life.
Q: What’s next in the pipeline?
A: Working on the outline for another story, women’s fiction genre and the characterization will be totally different in this story. Haven’t come up with a name, but it’s another woman’s story that spans between India and America.
Q: An author who you idolize, and wish could be like?
A: I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s books. Her style of writing with subtleness in prose is exemplary to me. The character’s emotions are so vivid and the connection to those characters when she writes is very natural for the reader. I would like to write to her for sure.
Other authors I like are Liane Moriarty, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele.
Q: A message for the young wives and girls out there.
A: Stay strong and be bold. Women’s empowerment does not show in the way you dress, it shows in the way you behave. Be Kind, but be very strong and bold. Courage does not mean, bickering for small things, becoming judgmental or back talking. Courage comes from within, it is nested deep inside your heart and mind. You are not answerable to anyone as long as you know you are doing things right. Build a career, become successful. Don’t become submissive in your marriage, instead develop acceptance.