If I look back down the memory lane, and try to find the answer to the question, what really inspired me to write my first book Flames Of Paradise, I will probably come up with just one answer. Voraciously reading all those brilliant classics written by writers like Jane Austen, D.H Lawrence in English and novels and stories written by writers like Sharatchandra, Amrita Pritam, Shivani and finally my own mother, Dr. Usha Kiran Khan. Indeed, what we see around us, what we read in our growing up years, are the experiences that we imbibe from. I have always been a sucker for romances. My bookshelves used to be stashed with these romance novels, and I still remember reading those passionate books hidden in my fat but boring chemistry and physics course books. Yes. I can definitely say all these years of reading romantic books inspired me to create characters of my own, build the dramatic story of Snigdha, the protagonist in my novel, who is a feisty, dynamic, strong yet sensitive film maker, who seeks answers to a whole lot of questions in her neat, organized life, which are finally answered by none other than the enigmatic hero that enters her life and turns it upside down.
Most part of my life has been spent in writing-writing for magazines, for radio, television, films and finally a novel for all those readers who like me, need to read fascinating stories of romance in the modern times. My book is a collection of my experiences that I have gathered from a medium that I could talk about confidently and wholeheartedly- filmmaking. Thus, the idea to make my protagonist a documentary film maker came up who explores the world of film making, and experiences the highs and lows of talking to people during her research, shooting the subject chosen by her, and delving deep into the psyche of all those people she interviews and films. Choosing a familiar ground was very important for me, to make the story authentic, and believable.
Flames Of Paradise was conceived in 1997, when I had been making a paradigm shift from my home town Patna to finally move to New Delhi, with a transit stopover at a beautiful place called, Pachmari, in Madhya Pradesh where I had stayed for 6 months with my elder sister in her beautiful bungalow perched in the midst of wilderness, to decide on the future course of my life and profession. The misty mornings, the cloudy days, and the damp serpentine roads, the emerald green of the forests, and the golden sunsets at the famous Dhoopgarh, all added to my vibrant and restless imagination, and I suddenly wanted to write about this woman called Snigdha, who finds the love of her life. Snigdha lands up in Kashmir, at a time when Srinagar is redolent with gunshots, and atmosphere is rife with tension and simmering hostility for outsiders.
At that time, she bravely decides to make her film on the surrendered militants. In the process, she is taken hostage by a leading terrorist group. Snigdha’s journey takes twists and turns when she realizes the condition of the camps and how innocents are made scapegoats by both the ‘Jihadis’ and the forces. The biggest shock she receives is when she realizes that one man she had felt strong attraction for during her stay in Kashmir, is supposedly involved in her abduction. Is he a terrorist? If he is, she is loathed to realize that she is suffering from Stockholm syndrome inspite of being a level headed, educated, modern woman, which was to actually feel attraction for her abductor.
Flames Of paradise, is the first of the many romances I intend to write, with an aim to captivate all those who still believe in falling in love, whatever the circumstances, situations or temperaments might be. According to me, if its ‘written” you will fall in love! Just let it happen and enjoy it as long as it lasts! ~ Tanuja Shankar Khan