Lifestyle Books and Art 23 Apr 2017 Q&A with Shubhra ...

Q&A with Shubhra Gupta

Published Apr 23, 2017, 4:55 am IST
Updated Apr 23, 2017, 4:58 am IST
Shubhra Gupta is a film critic and columnist. She has travelled extensively around the world to film festivals both as reporter and jury.
Shubhra Gupta
 Shubhra Gupta

Q Why do you write?
Simple. Because that’s my job. And sometimes, I can actually read what I’ve written without wincing, so I guess there’s some kind of unique pain/pleasure involved in the process, too.

Q Describe your favourite writing space.
A corner in my room right next to my window. I have to be able to look out and see the outside. Other than that, literally anywhere. If you are on deadline, and as a working journalist, that’s what I am on all the time, you have to be able to write anywhere. I’ve written in airplanes, standing in hotel lobbies, curled up in bed. Everywhere.


q Your favourite word?
Don’t have one.
Q Do you have a writing schedule?
Ideally, very early in the morning. And only when I have to.

Q Ever struggled with writer’s block?
Journalists cannot afford writer’s blocks. It is a very occasional luxury.

Q Do you keep a diary?
Used to. Gave up long back.
Q What inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?
Umm, inspiration is yet another form of luxury. When the dreaded deadline is upon me, and true journos will only write when you literally have to send it in, the words come automatically.

Q Best piece of advice you’ve ever got?
Just write, like that famous line, “Just Do It”.
Q Coffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing…
Nothing. I just need total silence, but again that’s in an ideal situation. I’ve also written with a cacophonous din around me. us, old-time hacks, can shut our ears when we absolutely have to.
Q Which books are you reading at present?
Multiple film-related books on my bedside right now. I’ve just finished Yesterday’s Films For Tomorrow by P.K. Nair.
Q Who are your favourite authors?
I’m one of those people who can read anything, but pulp fiction and great science fiction is my joy.
Of the top of my head, I can read the following people anytime, all the time. Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Josephine Tey, Michael Marshall Smith, Andrew Vachss. And Stephen King, when he is writing about people (I’m not so fond of his out-and-out horror sagas).

Q Which book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?
Banning? Bad word. Bad idea.

Q Which are your favourite children’s books?
I taught myself to read very early and began with whatever I could stick my paws on. But yes, Enid Blyton was a childhood staple, as well as all kinds of comics. And then, the Ram Charit Manas, and the Mahabharat, in the original, at a time when I could barely lift the heavy tomes. I grew up in a house full of busy adults, and read all the time, unsupervised!
Q Which classics do you want to read?
None. Read them all, or at least as many as I could, growing up. Now I can read only blood and gore. And books on cinema.
Q Who is your favourite literary character?
There were several as a child and teen. All of the Five Find Outers and Dog.
Sudden, the cowboy who ranged far and wide, I loved. I also enjoyed the escapades of the very heroic heroes of some of the Alistair MacLean adventures.
And then later, when I began reading great crime fiction, I began liking the hardboiled, slightly soiled heroism of Phillip Marlowe a great deal.
Now, I guess, it would be Jack Reacher, the invincible modern-day cowboy who vanquishes the bad guy, and stays the last man standing.
Q Which is the funniest book you have read?
The entire P.G. Wodehouse series, specially the ones featuring Jeeves and Bertie Wooster.
Q Which is the most erotic book you have read?
D.H. Lawrence’s Sons And Lovers.
Q Which book do you wish you had written?
None. I can write only what I can.