Raksha Bharadia talks about her first work of fiction, “All and Nothing”

“I have got a very warm reception in chilly Delhi and have thoroughly enjoyed people's interest in my work,” said author Raksha Bharadia, in the city recently to release her latest book “All and Nothing”. Designer Ritu Kumar, who launched the book at the Willow Habitat World, was all praise for the book and said, “It is great to see young authors come up with good work as I feel they are innovative in their approach and have a lot of thought-provoking ideas. I think it is very courageous how she (Raksha) has brought together five different lives in a cauldron and weaved the story so well.”

For Raksha, “All and Nothing” is her first work of fiction. She has earlier written books like “Me: A Handbook for Life” and “Roots and Wings: A Handbook for Parents” (both for Rupa & Co). Raksha has also co-authored some books for the “Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul” series (Jack Canfield and Mark Victor) for Westland. Seven titles have already been released — “For Indian Soul”, “For Indian Teenage Soul”, “For Indian Armed Forces” and “For Indian Romantic Soul”, “For Indian Soul — A Second Serving”, “For Mother's Soul” and “For Father's Soul”.

On asked which genre she would call her own, Raksha said, “With fiction I could be more honest. I could write whatever I felt openly through my characters. That kind of freedom to express is not possible otherwise. Non-fiction, in that sense, has a lot of boundaries. This book is my most honest work till date.”

The story of “All and Nothing” is about many characters and their relationships and the struggle to face their worst fears. Tina, a talented artist, is desperately in love with the successful careerist Aditya. But he cannot let go of his past, their marriage sours and Tina teeters on the edge. Through her we meet Kriya, a fashion designer, chic and successful with a sordid secret. There is Poorvi, a feminist yet deeply troubled by having mothered only daughters. Upasna is a willing victim of domestic violence. Manas is a struggling copy writer, besotted with Gayathri . Each, beneath a façade of harmony, walks a tightrope as their sense of self disintegrates a little each day.

So was it challenging writing it, considering it took her three years to complete it? “Because the book pans the life of five people over 12 years, it was a little difficult at times to get the right mood but I was the happiest when I was in the flow and was writing.” She sometimes found it frustrating when she had to think of different scenes and nothing fitted the story well. “There is a scene in the book where the protagonist Tina is about to jump off the parapet but decides against it saying ‘It was a new day and I don't want to die, I wanted to live it'. It took me a month to come up with that!”

Raksha said she “did live in the skin” of her characters, “but I think the entire process of writing is so cathartic that I did not feel any trouble or pain. Another reason for this could be that I had done my research well and was living with my characters for years.” Her characters were inspired by real life and she says, “I am dreading their reactions if they ever find out.”

Apart from writing there's plenty that keeps this passionate author busy, like learning Kathak, teaching children through an NGO, besides, of course, writing another novel. “My next novel is also about relationships and, well, poker.”

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