Indian Carrie Bradshaw Madhuri Banerjee believes marriage will soon be redundant
Madhuri Banerjee is called the Indian 'Carrie Bradshaw' of the Sex and the City fame for her urban ways of looking at life and writing books that boast of strong independent and confident women. She gives a candid interview to this citizen journalist Shrabani Mukherjee, and talks about love, marriage and career.
You have been named as the 'Carrie Bradshaw on the block' by Cosmopolitan. How do you feel about it?
Madhuri Banerjee: I love being called Carrie Bradshaw. I loved every episode of 'Sex And The City,' and I am greatly influenced by the strong, powerful, independent women it depicts. Carrie is fun, sassy, striking and remarkable. If that’s how my writing is portrayed then I am over the moon with that compliment!
Mills and Boons India has signed you for a book. How did that happen?
Madhuri Banerjee: I am writing a Harlequin Romance kind of book with Rupa Publications. They saw that I enjoy writing love stories and approached me to write the book.
Do you think erotic novels are well received in our country? Or is there a double standard with people wanting to read erotica but at the same time they do not want to divulge that they read these books?
Madhuri Banerjee: Erotica novels in India still need to be openly accepted. People will not buy and read it in a train. Even book covers that are a little risqué become a huge no-no for readers. So erotica writers will be labeled as the women who “think like that” rather than writers who tell a good story. There is definitely a double standard because everyone would have read '50 Shades of Grey' but they will rather say they’ve read a Kamala Das. They disconnect erotica from India. Indians are pure. We don’t indulge in sex or sexual writing!
In your latest book 'Mistakes like Love and Sex,' are you Kaveri the protagonist?
Madhuri Banerjee: Not at all. I’m more Shyamolie. But all the characters are real people with an exaggerated figment of my imagination.
You have dabbled in a lot of things such as being a producer for Zoom, assistant director for eminent directors, and writing a relationship column. Why did you turn to full-time writing?
Madhuri Banerjee: I’ve always written wherever I went. I wrote and directed many things. I was always there for script readings to change the tonality of the scenes. So writing has always been in my blood. Full-time writing came when I realized directing takes me away from my daughter too much. And since I wanted to be a hands-on mother while she was young, I started writing 100 percent instead of splitting it with directing.
You have written a relationship column. Are you the much needed agony aunt for your friends? Does the experience of giving advice to people come in handy now while writing a book?
Madhuri Banerjee: Of course. Every experience, every advice, every story leads some way into my writing. Whether it is in thoughts, scenes, character growth, climaxes, plots or dialogues. Real life is more exciting than the imaginary world. But the imaginary world
gives a new perspective for real life.
In your latest book 'Mistakes like Love and Sex' a character 'Shy' says a beautiful line about love and how people interpret love their way, not leaving space for the other person's interpretation. What according to Madhuri is love?
Madhuri Banerjee: Love has no adjective. It’s not true, unconditional, pure, deep, absolute, or unwavering. It’s either there or it isn’t. And when you accept that, then you give yourself to it. And love cannot be mistaken with a relationship or a marriage. It’s a presence in your life, a part of your soul that’s happy, fulfilling, and peaceful.
While reading your book there was an undercurrent feeling that arranged marriage is not something which you feel highly about. Do you feel it is a dead institution?
Madhuri Banerjee: I know of many arranged marriages that have worked. But they all have required tremendous effort. Just like love marriages. I honestly feel that marriages will (somewhere in the distant future) be redundant. When people realize that they love each other and they want to be together, it will not require a legal system and the approval of a family to keep them together. Love requires nothing more than two individuals who believe they can work anything out. A marriage is about two families coming together. When people realize what they want, they’ll have the strength to pick the correct one.
As far as handling relationships is concerned how has India changed from yesteryears?
Madhuri Banerjee: We still see relationships defined in the old way with the man as the provider and the wife as the nurturer. And all relationships leading to marriage. With Bollywood on screen couples, everything is about “living happily ever after” and off screen, the press does not leave two people alone until they get married. So it’s not evolving. I hope that a new generation will realize that you don’t need a bond with an entire family to be complete. It’s wonderful to be in a committed relationship and figure out your own rules and not just blindly accept the society’s norms. Then have a wife as the provider and a man an equal nurturer.
Do we have among us a Kaveri, Shyamoli and Aditi, who is confident enough to lead a life on their own and get into a relationships on their on terms? Don't you feel all these characters are idealists and not so much as realists?
Madhuri Banerjee: No, they are the future of India. They live amongst us now but we don’t pay heed to them. They are not idealists. They believe in themselves. And as an author I can only create strong female characters that can be an inspiration to people as well as have an identifiable quality. Each woman today is an Aditi, Kaveri and Shyamolie put together. All you need is to find the strength deep within. And even if you falter and make mistakes, believe in yourself and carry on!