Chirdeep Malhotra . Updated: 3/7/2022 5:27:00 PM Books and Authors

Author Interview: Mohua Chinappa

Mohua Chinappa is a writer, voice-over artist and among the most sought-after podcasters in Bangalore. In The Mohua Show, Chinappa interviews artists, entrepreneurs, and individuals who are working to make their communities economically and socially stronger. Her popular blog by the same name (earlier MoodyMo) emphasizes brands that endorse gender equality, nostalgia, and arts and crafts of India. She has held leadership positions as a Public Relations/ Corporate Communications specialist in top agencies such as Brandcomm, HCL, ITC and Genesis PR, including being the national head of GCI, the PR division of Grey Worldwide Advertising. She has recently come out with the book “Nautanki Saala and Other Stories”. In a candid chat with Chirdeep Malhotra, she talks about her debut book, her writing journey, her favourite books and authors, and much more. Read on!

Please tell us more about Mohua Chinappa as a person.

Mohua Chinappa is a dreamer, a believer and an accidental entrepreneur.

Has writing always been a part of your life? Or did you chance upon it later on and then instantly fell in love with it?

I come from an era when writing letters was the most intimate way of communicating our feelings to our loved ones. Therefore writing began very early on for me. As a child, I wrote long letters to my father who had a travelling job. Then life happened and I bid goodbye to my kindest best friend that I had found in the alphabets lurking in my heart. I could write about anything that I wanted. It was an instant connect that I had with words.
Though I had forgotten about my natural affinity towards words for a while, this only returned with a vengeance when I was bedridden with an autoimmune disorder. All I had were stories and words inside my broken spirit and ailing body.

Please tell us more about your book “Nautanki Saala and Other Stories”. What inspired you to write this book? When did you start writing this book and how long did it take you to finish it?

“Nautanki Saala And Other Stories” is an anthology that talks about men and women.
The pain I saw in the eyes of the north eastern masseuse in Bangalore. The memories of my fear in the insurgency of Shillong. The displaced insecure Bengali women in Delhi. All this and more was my inspiration. Their stories of resilience needed to be expressed.
I started writing this book in 2021 and finished it in a year.

Can you tell us more about your writing process for these short stories? The stories are based on your anecdotes, so how did you go about fictionalizing those true accounts?

When I sit down to write, I delve deep into the recess of my heart, which holds memories, songs, moments, fragrances and fragmented thoughts. I join them together like a sewing of words and finally it is a divine intervention that creates stories out of those words.

The stories in this anthology are connected by the theme of feminism. What does feminism mean to you? What are your views on the wider debate on the difference between womanism and feminism?

Feminism, to me, means this – The day when society is civilised enough to let a woman go out for a walk at any hour of the night, without the fear of being raped, looked at suspiciously or mistaken for having loose morals.
I can’t see much difference between the two. Very few people of the masculine gender would be an ally of feminism, as that goes against the set rules of society. It is mostly women who are burning the torch bright towards a better world where there is equality of gender. So they both are two sides of the same coin.

Critics say that feminism does not encompass the perspectives of women coming from marginalised strata. What kinds of changes would you like to see in the present discourse on feminism, for it to be more inclusive?

I hope to see and read more about housewives. Also women who belong to the middle and lower income strata. I wish to meet more content writers who showcase the challenges, the difficulties that these women overcome everyday in their lives just to own themselves.
There are uncountable women who live in obscurity yet are determined to fight the age old systems. My endeavour is and will remain forever to write such stories.
There are a very large number of working women who ride buses with only two seats reserved for ladies or commute in the local trains every morning to reach their office. They also teach their children at home, cook, and earn a living. These women largely operate in an environment that is harsh and unforgiving towards them. I wholeheartedly agree that we need more representation in the feminist ideology and dialogues.

Please tell us about the core message of this short story anthology.

It is about courage and the ability to swim against the current.

Can you recommend five books from any genre, for our readers to add to their reading lists, that you particularly cherish?

“The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh, “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Outsider” by Albert Camus, “The Forty Rules Of Love” by Elif Shafak, and “The Metamorphosis” by Kafka.

What are your other interests apart from writing?

I love podcasting and also run a podcast. I enjoy music, drinking coffee, discovering quaint cafés, travelling, watching films and being mommy to my 22 year old baby boy Neel.

What are you working on next? Any new literary projects that our readers should look out for?

Yes I have started the draft of my second book. I will reveal more as the work progresses.

Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?

“A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows that she has none.” – Marilyn Monroe

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