Tulika Mehrotra’s Delhi Stopover and Crashing B-Town explore the competitive, and often sexist, fashion and film industry
From pursuing a degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to studying fashion at the European Institute of Design Moda Lab, and working in the business side of entertainment, Tulika Mehrotra has traversed different paths in her career, only to return to what she loves most—writing. “I was going through all these experiences. I was not content with direction my career was taking. Writing was always a vent for me. My father said why don’t you write a book? All the stories started flowing back to me,” says the writer and journalist.
It’s difficult to not get distracted by Tulika’s impeccable presentation. “People have told me I resemble Sania Mirza, Katrina Kaif and Sona Mohapatra. So I have been compared with a tennis player, an actor and a singer!” she laughs and says.
Chronicles of Lila
Tulika’s first book Delhi Stopover has Lila, a struggling actor in Los Angeles, visiting her aunt and cousin in Delhi, finding herself in the city’s fashion industry, where she struggles with issues typical to the industry. Tulika’s second novel, Crashing B-Town, published a year after Delhi Stopover, follows Lila through her journey as in actor in Bollywood, where she encounters power struggles and sexism.
Tulika explains her reasons for choosing to set her novels in India’s fashion and film industries. “I wanted to understand what was happening in India. I saw parallels between India and the United States. Both are multi-billion industries. In my books, I have done more than just pulling back the curtain to show the truth. I always wanted to write about how this generation is going through a drastic change; the culture is changing so much,” says the Chicago based author and journalist, who was born in Lucknow.
Tulika explores sexism, racism, drug abuse and other issues in her novels. “We all know of someone who has experienced sexism or an abusive relationship. Racism is hilarious. I don’t understand this dark and light skin concept. India is one of the biggest consumers of skin lightening products.” She adds that she has depicted these issues in a way “that is not depressing.” She says she doesn’t want to be preachy. “I don’t want to be boring, but I also fear melodrama.”
Tulika says she’s good at writing about the macro picture. “The micro details get me crazy,” she says, truthfully. As for the characters, Tulika says though she has met many eccentric people, “no one character is a particular person.” She says she tends to create hybrid characters.
Tulika argues that feminism is still relevant. “The definition of feminism has evolved; it has evolved to a more sophisticated conversation. There are still barriers that need to be torn down and discussed. A woman must be allowed to work. But if a woman who chooses to stay at home, that should be respected too.”
It is an interesting time for popular fiction, contends Tulika. “It’s taking an awesome turn. It entertains while forcing to look at your life.”
Delhi Stopover and Crashing B-Town have been published by Penguin.