The sky is the limit for 37-year-old fiction writer and poet Rochelle Potkar, as she forays into acting, in Kollywood no less, with director Ram’s Taramani.
Her command over her works speaks volumes about her views on several pressing issues — from baby commercials to opinions on women and sexuality. For Rochelle, it all began ten years back, when she was drafting a précis paragraph for her sixth-grade students in Shanghai.
“I still remember the paragraph, which was about a dog under the moon, in the mist — it set me free! My first story, Tropical Estuary, is about a woman who loses her family to a huge wave, and her coming to terms by maintaining a new equation with water. I received $5 as a token amount for my first flash fiction piece, Our Lovers, and I was on top of the world!” says Mumbai-based Rochelle.
Her inspiration comes from everywhere, she says — “My first collection, The Arithmetic of breasts and other stories is around women, their sexuality and romance. I have focused on the body of a woman and how the world views it.”
Being a fiction writer, her transition to writing poems was an unconscious decision. “I think my poems are lyrical short stories. While my poems are confessional, my stories are camouflage,” she explains.
Rochelle thinks that advertisements on baby and fairness products are hilarious. “My poem Baby is a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the way corporate India treats its women professionals. Babies are seen as an interruption to productivity, yet they are the future consumer base for all products. Also, the fixation over fairness has stumped me! We are a tropical country with a spectrum of beautiful skin tones. We are sexy. The Indian woman is one of the most beautiful species — and she needs to learn to celebrate her skin tone,” she explains.
Rochelle also adds that she believes in conveying her beliefs about equality and anti-discrimination through her work. Elaborating on the lack of writers who are willing to talk about women’s sexuality, she says, “There is plenty of Indian fiction and non-fiction on women’s sexuality, but women in India must reclaim their complete space on the page, stage, street and sheet. We have come a long way, and we need our men to partner with us respectfully in this walk.”
When asked about her acting debut in Taramani, she elaborates, “A friend asked me if I would like to act — and thinking she was bluffing — I played along. But she actually mentioned me to director Ram, and I was called for an audition. I have embodied characters in text, but none in flesh. In Taramani, I play the role of a catalyst to a catastrophe. Ram has a fascinating mind. I still cannot wrap my mind around his visions! I don’t know Tamil, the team had to help me out and did a great job. I’m looking forward to the release.”