Articulate & Exuberant, Munmun Ghosh is a Mumbai-based fiction writer, editor with CRISIL Ltd., a freelance journalist and amateur musician is a delight to interact with. Having a wonderful way with words, she is a master weaver of stories on most crucial but untouched upon issues.
No wonder, Actor Vidya Balan who launched her earlier book – Unhooked in Mumbai said, “Once I started reading Unhooked, I was hooked. Every experience mentioned in this book will find a resonance with women somewhere or the other — either you have gone through it or you have known someone who went through or have at heard of someone go through it.”
Noted columnist Shobhaa De commended the book as “an unblinking view of the contemporary concerns that confront thirty-something career women looking for love, but not necessarily sex.”
Her first work of fiction Hushed Voices (2007) explored the lives of Mumbai’s marginalized classes through a series of connected monologues. In her second fictional venture, a full-fledged novel named Unhooked (2012); she spotlighted the metro phenomenon of intellectual mating between the sexes and its repercussions.
Armed with a First class Masters’ degree in English Literature from Mumbai University, she worked as a full-time journalist for a range of publications – from Stardust and MOVIE to The Daily, The Economic Times, Mid-Day, and indya.com for over a decade before segueing to creative writing.
Munmum Ghosh spoke to Bienu Verma Vaghela in an exclusive interview:
Excerpts of the interview:
As a journalist, how challenging was it for you to write a full-fledged book for the first time?
I had clocked almost ten years of full-time journalism before I moved to fiction-writing and it was for sure, a huge challenge since it demanded more of imagination from me than journalism did. Especially, given the nature of my first work of fiction ‘Hushed Voices.’ For unlike my latest novel ‘Thicker than Blood,’ Hushed Voices is rooted in a milieu far removed from the middle-class milieu in which I grew up. It is basically a string of 39 connected monologues, giving voice to the concerns, issues and joys of Mumbai’s underprivileged populace, featuring characters like a dabbewali, a public undertaker, and a regular domestic. Hence, the title ‘Hushed Voices.’
Complex human relationships are the crux of your books, but how complex are these actually in real life?
Since human beings are complex in nature, relationships between them are bound to be so. A lot of growing up and maturity is about learning to handle relationships with different people in your lives. I think once we truly accept that we are all essentially different and respect this fact, relating becomes easier. Still, relationships remain complex since humans are dynamic entities and changing constantly. So remaining in harmony is a perennial effort. However, the challenge and shifts in relationships also make life more interesting.
Do you think the pressures of modern day and stressful lifestyles take a toll on relationships?
Several factors influence relationships, and stressful lifestyles can become an important factor. While I was researching for Thicker than Blood, I remember talking to a sexologist, who had this interesting observation to make: ‘Many a time a couple has come to me with problems in conceiving. When I ask them how often they make love, they say, at least twice a month.’ So stressful, hectic, work-laden lifestyles can take a toll on relationships for sure. For to nurture a relationship, you need first and foremost to give time to it. If you are not spending time together, then how can that connect grow?
In your latest title you have written about quite an untouched subject of infertility and complexities surrounding it? How did you conceive the idea?
Thicker than Blood is based on the real-life experience of one of my dear friends, who struggled for years to realize her simple wish to have a complete family, exploring many an option in the process. Her story moved me and when I looked around, I realized many couples were going through similar experiences silently, and it was a growing urban issue. As a writer, I believe it is my responsibility to draw attention to those aspects of life that are important but not being talked about, and so I decided to compost my friend’s story. I felt in the process the story would make visible, the options available to couples in similar situations. Also, the idea of writing this novel appealed to the romantic in me, because finally Thicker than Blood is the story of a man and a woman, of Vimal and Mayuri, and how their relationship evolves over the years through many strains and challenges. In one sense, it is an ode to love.
What is your advice to young authors, especially aspirant journalists who want to become authors some day?
Write a story/novel only when you have something to say, only when the story is consuming your from inside and you cannot rest till you are out with it. The story will choose its own form. You don’t have to worry too much about that. And once you have got a story to tell, then let it grow within you. Develop it steadily and of course, rewrite and polish it again and again. Approach a publisher only when you are satisfied with the end-product. Don’t be in a hurry to get published.
Do you think events like Jaipur Litt. Fests are important for furthering the cause of Publishing & Writing?
I think any event that promotes the reading habit and the cause of literature needs to be encouraged and lauded. When a youth reads about the Jaipur Literary Fest in the papers, it is likely he will become curious about the writers involved and want to at least browse through their works. That would be a gain. Today, books are ranged against very powerful competitors for eyeballs like cinema, internet, television and most importantly now what’s app. So any activity that can bring people to books is welcome.
Watch out this space for Book’s Review soon…
Book – Launch on February 16, 2016 at Title Waves, Bandra West, Mumbai
Don’t Miss to grab your copy brought to you by Jaico Books!