CHAT Raksha Bharadia on her first work of fiction, “All and Nothing”
D esigner Ritu Kumar, who launched Raksha Bharadia's “All and Nothing” in New Delhi, was all praise for the book. She said, “It is great to see young authors come up with good work as I feel they are innovative in their approach and have thought-provoking ideas. I think it is courageous how she has brought together five different lives and woven a story.”
For Raksha, “All and Nothing” is her first work of fiction. She had earlier written books such as “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”.
Ask her which genre she will call her own, and Raksha says, “With fiction I could be more honest. I could write whatever I felt openly through my characters; that kind of freedom 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, their relationships and their struggle to face their worst fears. Tina, a talented artist, is desperately in love with Aditya, who is successful in his career. 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 troubled by having mothered just 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 a challenge to write the book considering it took three years to complete it? “Because the book pans the life of five people over 12 years, it was a little difficult to get the right mood, but I was the happiest when I got down to writing,” Raksha says. 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 wall but decides against it, saying, ‘It is a new day and I don't want to die, I want to live'; it took me a month to give shape to the idea!” Raksha says 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 are 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,” says Raksha.