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The bold and the brazen

PREETI ZACHARIAH
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interview Madhuri Banerjee on what it means to write about woman’s needs

A journey of discoveryMadhuri BanerjeePhoto: Bhagya Prakash k.
A journey of discoveryMadhuri BanerjeePhoto: Bhagya Prakash k.

Amber eyes, curly hair, charming voice — that’s effervescent Madhuri Banerjee for you. But, she confesses: “I’m actually a recluse, you know. I don’t party at all — in fact I get intimidated by large gatherings of people.”

However, her shyness doesn’t stop Madhuri from writing books that explore female sexuality and offer descriptions of the act, in no uncertain terms. “In a society in which sex is taboo, I want to emphasise that every woman has needs and desires and enjoys making love, and that there is nothing wrong with it,” says Madhuri, who is currently promoting her second book. Losing My Virginity and Mistakes like Love and Sex, the first two books of her trilogy, offer vivid glimpses into protagonist Kaveri’s sex life.

A bachelor in literature from Lady Shri Ram College and a Master’s in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia (both in Delhi), Madhuri has worked as a senior producer with Zoom TV, with White Light Motion Pictures, in her own production house, as a freelance documentary film-maker and in Bollywood films. “I wanted to write about the things I couldn’t show on television,” she says.

She wrote her first book after the birth of her child. “I wrote while my baby slept.”

Her characters are often based on people she knows. Kaveri is loosely based on the author herself, and she admits as much. “I was pretty intimidated by sex when I first started and went through a phase where I was uncertain about myself. I think everyone goes through it.” Likewise, the men that Kaveri goes out with are an amalgamation of the men in her own life. “Siddharth is the guy I would have wanted, Ray was based on a guy a friend of mine dated. And every woman has an Arjun,” she says, wistfully.

Her books have all the elements of a typical chick-lit. Set mainly in big cities, they trace the life of a single working girl, Kaveri, as she tries to find love, deals with her body-image issues, grapples with her career and, most importantly, attempts to discover herself and figure out where she fits in the world.

Why label a book?

Madhuri, however, doesn’t quite like the term chick-lit. “It is very easy to label a book as chick-lit because it has a female protagonist. I really wish there was a better classification of books. I’m just telling a story,” she says. But aren’t her books, with their rather daring narrative and risqué descriptions, a little ahead of the times? “Yes they are,” she says. “But do I have to wait till society can deal with it? I write what I want and hope that people will be able to accept my situations, characters, and me as an author,” she adds.

PREETI ZACHARIAH

I am not writing to be different, I write books because I am different.

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