Author Ushasi Sen Basu has a knack for discussing taboos which she manages to do with a dash of humour. In her debut novel, Kathputli, she talks about marital rape, post partum depression and what it meant to be a misfit woman in the 1940s.
Set in pre independence Bengal, Kathputli takes the reader on a journey with Chitrangada Chatterjee from Bengaluru, who quits her boring job as a technical writer and chases her dream to write a novel. She traces her roots back to Kolkata and accidentally stumbles upon skeletons in her family’s closet as Basu strips away the pretences of a perfect family.
The inspiration for the story came about when Basu had just become a mother. “I thought what if I wasn’t ready for this? What if I wasn’t where I am today and it was a different time, when societal pressure pushed women to do things they absolutely were not ready for? It was an enormous responsibility and had I not been ready, it would’ve turned out to have disastrous results.” says the author.
Her plot has three strong female characters and two male ones. There’s the protagonist Chitrangada, Lata Chatterjee who is her grandmother and Mala Chatterjee, Lata’s older sibling who disappears under very mysterious circumstances. She goes missing, but is declared dead without any investigation. “The complexities in their character are different. While Mala is a woman who isn’t meant for marriages, children and societal norms, her sister is the exact opposite. Chitra herself is on a constant journey of personal growth as she discovers these secrets about her own family.”
It is quite easy to draw a similarity between Chitrangada’s character and the author’s. Both are in their early 30s, have a technical writer background and both have a mouthful of opinions. But Basu believes that it is a coincidence. “People have said this to me after they read my book and I disagree. I think a piece of me is there in all the characters; after all, you mold them like clay and place them in the right place at the right time.”
She will be reading this book along with city based singers Arati Rao Shetty and Raphael Emileena accompanied by Debjeet Basu on guitar and Steve Rajan on piano. “It is unlike any other book reading I’ve been to. Being a musical one, I think it will add more dimensions to the essence of the plot. It will be exciting to hear excerpts along with riffs and notes.”
What: Book reading of Kathputli by Ushasi Sen Basu
When: june 30, 8 pm
Where: Bflat, Indiranagar