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Books: Words apart – Hindustan Times

“How you read and feel and how you see and feel are two entirely different themes and I’ve been able to explore both with my audience,” says filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, who has recently debuted as an author with a book titled Mapping Love.

Iyer is known for her modern visual storytelling, as proven by the success of her films, Nil Battey Sannata (2015) and Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017). But unlike the movies she’s made, which involves other people, her book is entirely her own work.

“There are 10 people involved in the movie-making process but with a book, it’s your face and your work that is important. It’s not a shared responsibility,” says Iyer. “Writing the book was an experience very different from screenplay writing. I enjoyed the process because it was done in my own time and in my own space. The solitude meant a lot. You know the destination but the route you want to take is your choice.”

Telling stories

Ashwiny’s inspiration comes from multiple Academy-award winner Woody Allen’s work Midnight in Paris, which is about a screenwriter.

Ashwiny has helmed movies like Bareilly ki Barfi (top) and Nil Battey Sannata (above) among other projects she’s currently working on
Ashwiny has helmed movies like Bareilly ki Barfi (top) and Nil Battey Sannata (above) among other projects she’s currently working on

“You don’t know whether to call Woody Allen a filmmaker or an author. A storyteller can indulge in various kinds of writing which makes us ‘not complacent’. Mapping Love started off as a thought and as I sat down to write, I realised this was a story I wanted to explore in the form of a book. I didn’t want to regret not trying and being an avid reader, I had always romanticised the idea of being a writer. Writing allows us to speak the truth, and I thoroughly enjoy that thought,” she says.

Avid readers often hate it when their favourite books are adapted into movies. Ashwiny, who now has her feet in both boats, says the media might be different, but what works or doesn’t work depends on the audience or the readers.

“Sometimes when books are converted into movies, there’s satisfaction and dissatisfaction because what the reader has created in their minds does not match with what the director might have shown. For a movie, the director has to use their imagination on the crux of the story so that the narrative is strong in a short span of time,” she explains. “With adaptations, comparing the two media is unfair to the creators. The totality of the book or the movie relies on the interest of the audience or reader.”

Ashwiny’s book, Mapping Love
Ashwiny’s book, Mapping Love

Seeing stories

Even the process of putting together a book and a movie is poles apart for a writer. A book needs a lot of detailing which must come from a single person, the author. But with a movie, different departments make a character come to life on-screen.

“I feel there’s an Oorja or an Anant in everyone,” says Ashwiny, referring to the characters of her book. “The story in explanation is the same, but what you derive from each of the characters is your own and every reader is a storyteller in their own mind.”

It wasn’t the pandemic-related lockdown that turned Ashwiny into an author. As a matter of fact, she had begun writing her novel three years ago.

On inspirations and favourites
On inspirations and favourites

“I was halfway done with the novel when the lockdown brought everything to a standstill, so I finished the remaining four chapters last December,” she says. “I love nature and my travels, the places I’ve visited, the names that have stuck, will always show in my form of storytelling. As a writer, I observe people, places and emotions. That’s how this book has evolved into understanding the complexities of relationships. My previous experience as a filmmaker and an advertiser also came handy,” says Ashwiny, who worked in advertising for nearly a decade.

Stoked by the encouragement she’s started to receive for her first book, Ashwiny is now working on her second book and also on two film projects.

Follow @MissNairr on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, August 1, 2021

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