22 June 2017

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Raksha Bharadiya - The ‘Creative Entrepreneur’

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Women writers in India are moving forward with their strong and sure strides, matching to the pace of the world. We see in them a bursting individual fragrance. They are recognised for their originality, versatility and the indigenous flavour of their own soil that they bring to their works.

 It is amazing to note that these writers have climbed the ladder of success in a slow and painful way. Now writing in India has not been treated as a medium for entertainment alone. Women writers in India do not merely write jet-set tales of intrigue and fantasy.

Here is a budding young women writer, who has tapped the potential of writing industry to soar up greater heights in a short span of time, but still waiting for greater heights- Raksha Bharadiya. She is proving a point that creative side of  people can benefit them both intellectually as well as financially, with a bit of hard work and strong optimism.

Three books published with in three years, two books awaiting to get published this year, Raksha Bharadiya, owns the credit of the publishing the Indian Version of the famous - Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul in tie up with the parent company in US- The Westland Publishing House. Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul, hit Indian bookshelves last year and is on the bestsellers' list of the year. Two more series of The Indian Chicken Soup awaited this year from Raksha

Raksha opines that women today in roles outside of home whether of an entrepreneur, professional or employee are making sweeping statements. They are sincere, have the emotional intelligence (which for a long times was seen as a deterrent but today it is an asset), are responsible and more effective. As a case in point let us take the writing industry. ‘‘In the writing field I am noticing a dominant presence of women, the Jaipur literature festival that I attended, I can emphatically say that the woman to man ratio was 60 : 40. Women have come of age!’’she adds.

Here, in an online interview, Raksha shares information about her writing career,  the desi version of The Chicken Soup For The Soul , future plans etc.

In her own words, “one does not need to be a Nobel or Pulitzer candidate to write from the heart. All experiences that you think are worth sharing are welcome.”

Tell us a about yourself, your family and educational background.

I was born and brought up in Kolkata. I was always academically inclined and during my school and college life. I graduated from Loreto College, affiliated with Calcutta University with merits in both English and History. After marriage I had settled in Ahmedabad.

How did you start writing?

I've been an avid reader from very early days.  I  attended a workshop about knowing yourself. There I was asked something about my wish and goal. I don’t know how I wrote, I wrote- “writing a book” and  there started my journey. The next day itself,I bought a note book and I began writing. My journey as a writer started with my debut book, Me: A Handbook for Life.

What is the book about ?

Me: A Handbook on Life,  published by Rupa & Co in 2007, is a self-help book that inspires through living examples. "I am interested in the way people deal with things. I want to understand those who never gave up."

Bharadia quotes heavyweights from Albert Einstein to Rabindranath Tagore to Goethe, engaging pencil sketches by Tuhin Chakrobarty enliven the book. Unlike most self-help books, it is neither didactic nor self-absorbed. Its strength lies in numerous interviews with the likes of M.F. Hussain, Pandit Jasraj, Mahesh Bhatt and Birju Maharaj. Bharadia says she read about 500 books and conducted around 150 interviews. She adds, "After so much reading, introspection, reflection, the book wrote itself."

How did the deal with Westland Publishing House happened?

Well, I think they liked my book, Westland Ltd got in touch with me regarding Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul. They had decided to cash in on the spiritual nature of Indians and the soulful encounters in their everyday lives.

You had two publications before The Chicken Soup Series, right?

No. actually, “Roots and Wings” released after chicken soup. Roots and Wings- A handbook for parents addresses parenting conflicts and dilemmas; how to manage the thin line between freedom and structure, our expectations of the child versus his native endowments. This book is about giving our children roots, so that they can stand firm; and wings, so that they may soar and achieve their potentials. Roots and Wings shows you the ways you can help your children along the long and winding road of discovery of the self and of the world at large.

I interviewed about 500 children aged between 5 and 12 to know what really goes on in their minds and their magical world. I went behind their passions , everyday life experiences and influences which have shaped and chiseled them to what they are. Also interviewed persons like Kumar Mangalam Birla, Jaya Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Jogen Chowdhary etc to know things in depth.

Can you tell us what Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul is all about?

We are following the same format of the US-based Chicken Soup series and the book contains 101 true-life stories based on themes like love, parenting, teaching and learning, death and dying, overcoming obstacles, living your dream etc.

On what basis were the stories selected in the series?

Apart from the themes we encouraged people to share events, episodes or learning experiences that may have created an impact upon their lives. Every life has a story and every story has a life. I just had to make sure that the two are harmonised well in it.

Was it difficult to get people to share their experiences ?

Yes, even I was under the impression that we Indians are not ones to talk about our personal issues. But I was proved wrong. I think blogging has changed the world we live in are now much more open, but then the stores started pouring. In fact they were candid, honest and wanted to tell their stories

How would you regard Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul as a self-help book?

The stories in Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul carry the essence of an individual's learning experiences - interactions, understandings and realizations. The book does not advise you how to live your life; but, it talks about people who chose a certain path and what they gained from it. It does not preach that you should persevere; instead it tells you about those who persevered despite immense odds. We have had contributors provide their contact information in the book

How different is the Indian version of Chicken Soup, compared to the American series?

Our issues and scenarios are different. Our lifestyle, for instance the family concept is very much Indian, doing things for family we have stories of the flux that we are caught between the effect of westernization, that is Indian.

But certain emotions are universal - like dealing with death or losing a loved one .

Any upcoming titles in the Chicken Soup series and please tell about your other works?

I have already compiled Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage Soul and Armed Forces which will be releasing this year. There's also one for the Spiritual Soul and Romantic Soul in the pipeline. Apart from that, I am working on my fiction .

Your  advice for aspiring writers?

Whatever you write about, write something that you are 100% convinced about and be honest. If you are writing a non-fiction, be sure about your beliefs, if you are writing a fiction,  know yr characters well.  Don’t write for someone just for the sake of writing.

What's the best way to get published in the coming  Chicken Soup series?

Tell your tale the way you have lived it. You can simply email it to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You need not be a fabulous writer - you just need to tell your story from the heart!

 

 

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