Kanika Dhillon wanted to write stories for as long as she can remember. As a scriptwriter for Red Chillies and then as an author, all of Kanika’s stories have been well received. “Books were something that was very close to my sister and I. In fact, my mother had to snatch them away from us, asking us to go out and play because we were bookworms... It was a very natural instinct from reading other people’s stories and characters to creating my own characters and stories,” she says.
After the success of her first two novels — Bombay Duck Is A Fish and Shiva And The Rise Of Shadows — Kanika is back with her third novel, The Dance of Durga. “It took me two-and-half years to write this novel. While I was writing the story I went through many changes in my life — I got married, I had to face a personal loss… That’s why I feel this is a lot more special than my earlier books.”
“It’s the story of a girl called Rajjo, who is born in a small rural village in Punjab. She is gifted — she can prophesise. But soon tragedy strikes and she feels betrayed by God and gives up hope. She lands up in an ashram and decides that the ultimate revenge would be to sell God in the market. She later rediscovers faith, and love enters her life,” says Kanika about the book.
“I would see my close family drink milk because it had a godman’s face on it. I wanted to question it... How can belief and faith drive an educated rational person to irrationality? There is nothing right or wrong about it, I just wanted to examine it up close.”
Besides the novel, Kanika was also working on the script of Manmarziyan, which has Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Padnekar on board and is being produced by Anand L. Rai. She says, “I usually try and write two stories at the same time. When I need to get away from a particular story, or a particular set of characters, I like to get into another story. That gives me the space and time from the story I need to take a break from.”
About working in the film industry, Kanika says, “I don’t keep a star in mind while writing a story. But in the South it’s very different, where they may be writing scripts keeping the star in mind... I don’t know how the mindset here is. But in Hindi, the story is the star, my characters are the stars. While writing, if you keep a particular star in mind, it will limit your character.”