Friday, March 17, 2017

Love, the way they see it

Author Ira Trivedi talks about her new book Nikhil and Riya and how the characters find spiritual growth.

A boarding school. He with a limp. And, she a runner. They fall in love, until death pulls them apart. This is Ira Trivedi’s latest offering — Nikhil and Riya. Written from Nikhil’s perspective, it talks about love, longing and finally, redemption. In between, you also get a glimpse of life in a posh boarding school — Residency School —and the stories of bullying, one-upmanship and rivalry. Targeted at young adults, Nikhil and Riya is a Harlequin romance brought out by HarperCollins India. Here’s chatting up the author:

We believe the book was earlier written from Riya’s perspective. Can you tell us about it and the changes that were incorporated to make Nikhil take charge?
The book was ready to be sent to the editors six-seven years ago. But when I read I felt that this wasn’t good enough yet. So I waited for a bit. I was also in the midst of writing India in Love, so I put this one on hold. After India... came out, I went back to Nikhil and Riya.
When the story was being narrated from Riya’s point of view, the focus was not just on Nikhil. Like Nikhil was completely focused on his girl. She could do no wrong in Nikhil’s eyes. But for Riya, it was different things like running, and the process of accepting her death.

Love has been portrayed very differently by the protagonists. Are you trying to bring out how males and females perceive it?
There’s no one way to love. Nikhil loves Riya the way only he knows how to. And, the same can be said for Riya. People assume love is what is shown in Bollywood. But that’s not the case, everytime.

The book has many sublime emotions. Is that a result of you being a yoga practitioner?
Well, I was on my spiritual journey, while writing the book. I read Bhagwat Purana. I knew I had to grow as a writer, so I decided to wait and rewrite the book. It’s not a sad book, but it’s quite profound and touching in many ways.
The reason I chose to write on love is because I think that the first common spiritual experience one has is ‘falling in love’. It’s the spirit of the emotion and the spirits finding each other. That’s why it’s the journey of the soul, through love.

Your earlier two books also had Riya, as the protagonist.

This isn’t planned. It’s just that I end the last character with Riya and I begin the new character with Riya. I think to myself that I will change the name later on. But it doesn’t happen.
However for this book, Nikhil’s name was changed quite a few times. I don’t quite recall what the original name was. I also toyed with the name Prashant and a few others. But then Nikhil and Riya kind of fit. It became a nice title. Prashant and Riya, Sunil and Riya don’t have that ring to it.

But is there a little bit of your life in Riya — the way she has been portrayed?

I don’t think so. She is someone I aspire to be. I think Riya is a very exceptional character. Of course, I was a runner in my boarding school too. But that’s about it.

So is this a story that talks about your youth?
I think Nikhil and Riya’s generation is exactly like my generation. The world I experienced in my boarding school, is the world I put in the book. If I would have set the book in today’s time, then it would be more virtual. There’s so much of love, break-up and make-up happening on WhatsApp. That’s how love stories happen nowadays.
My next love story would be a virtual love story. But before that, I would love to write a sequel to this book. The narrator would be young Riya.

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