Anyone who speaks to Ritu Kakar over the phone or interacts with her over messenger or chat will mistake her for a 16-18-year-old youngster who is bubbling with vivacity & passion. The positive attitude of this die-hard romantic belies her age. It probably has a lot to do with the environment at home.
You know her as Ritu Kakar, the Contemporary Romance Author. I know her as a doting mother, loving wife, dutiful daughter-in-law, darling daughter, cute sibling and an amazing 3-am-friend.
One chilly winter morning, I visited Ritu Kakar for a steaming hot cup of chai with Parle G biscuits & some gup shup.
Born & brought up in Mumbai, Ritu moved to Delhi just after her marriage. She shuttles between both the cities tending to her in-laws and father with equal love & care.
We plonk ourselves on the plush sofa in her suburban home in Mumbai and chat nonstop about love, romance and her latest book, Love Unexpected. Here are a few excerpts of the interview…
Tell me a secret that no one knows about you…
(She giggles like a teenager) I have no skeletons in my closet for you! However, I must share, I was eight when my mother gifted me my first collection of amazing books like Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, Mid Summer Night’s Dream & Taming of the Shrew. I fell in love with reading and nurtured a fantasy of writing such wonderful stories one day. My school essays would leave my teachers very impressed.
So you love books… tell us more…
(Smiles, sighs & looks out of the window) Well, where should I start? Suspense thrillers like the Nancy Drew series, Hardy Boys & Agatha Christie drove me crazy! I used to be glued to them all the time. Just like how teenagers are glued on their mobiles on the dinner table, I would carry a book with me, everywhere I went.
I think the one book that redefined my life was Sidney Sheldon’s ‘If Tomorrow Comes’. I still remember, I read it just after my 10th examinations & totally fell in love with his style of writing. Also came across Kane & Able by John Grisham but it was Sidney’s pace that won my heart. I read each & every Sidney Sheldon novel there is on the face of Mother Earth!
Any particular genre that attracted you the most while reading?
During my reading journey, I discovered something about myself that was totally unique. You know what, I can spot romance in each and every genre. Fiction, paranormal, drama, just about any genre, if peppered with romance turned to be my favourite.
I have read the entire Mills & Boons series and at the same time, I have read adult fiction authors like Vi Keeland, Laurelin Paige, Stephanie London and so many others…the list is endless!
A little birdie tells me that you are now in love with your iPad!
(chuckles & grins) My kindle and iBook apps have more than 4000 books downloaded. I have read most of them and am planning to finish the rest as soon as I can. The collection contains an eclectic mix of young adult fiction, paranormal, suspense, thriller and romance too. I also have the entire collection from the Vampire academy!
So, your birdie is right! I am in love with my iPad because it contains my best friends, my books…
What motivated you to write?
(Fiddles with her teacup and pauses as she gathers her thoughts. She lets out a deep breath and continues.) Stories fascinate me. However, it is the process of creating stories that enthral me with a sense of fulfilment. My loved ones, especially my sister and my husband encouraged me to finally start penning the stories & scenarios that my mind keeps spinning.
What happened next?
Well, their encouragement pushed me to knit a story with love, emotions, family painted with the classic Indian dramatic narrative. Several edits later, my first book, One Precious Moment was launched. I cannot express the feeling of pure love, pride, excitement and the sheer happiness that I felt when I held the printed copy in my hands for the first time. It was the same feeling I went through when I held my own babies in my arms for the first time.
Wow! That’s amazing! Tell us, what motivates you to write?
(Dips her Parle G in her chai & watches it disappear in the depths of the cup) Well, it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly motivates me to write. I guess it’s my passion for words, stories and surroundings. Though in real life I am a person who stays away from drama, I just love injecting drama into my stories. The need to use the simple realities of life with imagination makes my heartbeat in excitement & my fingers automatically start moving on the iPad.
You are 42 but your stories are meant for teenagers, how do you manage to remain a die-hard romantic even at this age?
(Blushes and continues softly) Romance has to do with what one feels within. Age has hardly got anything to do with it. Amidst the regular chaos in my life, I love seeking solace in the romantic feelings that warmly tug my heart. My passion for life, people & my surrounding not only brings out the love within but also enhances my thoughts and creativity when I write.
Have you ever experienced Writer’s Block? How did you deal with it?
(Lets out a broad grin & shakes her head from side to side) Well, I have been lucky until now simply because I have not yet experienced a writer’s block. Surely, there have been times when I took a pause from writing because I wasn’t convinced with where the story was going. I keep my stories as real as possible and that can be quite a challenge since there is a fine line that makes reality as palatable as imagination.
Wow! Well said! On that note, tell our readers something about your latest release, Love Unexpected.
(Her sweet face beams with pride & her eyes begin to shine in silent pride) This is my second baby, the first one being One Precious Moment. For me, Love Unexpected is not only about the romance between two lovers.
Love is of so many different kinds and this story explores the love between friends, family members and platonic love between co-workers. I have tried to explore the love & care between siblings and delved into the love between two friends as well. Life isn’t black or white and nor are the realities in life, everything has a tinge of grey with so much colour, so many facets. Love Unexpected is all this and more, it is about the realities that govern an individual’s life.
That sounds really interesting! Just one last question: Why is Romance important?
(Her eyes light up with a happy smile) Romance and Love are one of the most important ingredients in life.
Where there is love, there is hope,
Where there is hope, there are dreams,
Where there are dreams, there are possibilities
Where there are possibilities, there is life.
Life allows us to look ahead and have faith, to believe in chance.
(She turns to me and chuckles) There is a very filmy dialogue that I love: “Till you don’t get your happy ending, it means, its not the end yet.”
My dear readers, I left her home with a spring in my step and happiness in my heart. Rarely does one come across an individual who speaks with so much honesty, passion and innocence. I have had the honour of editing Love Unexpected for Ritu Kakar & it has been one of the sweetest romance stories I have ever read. I will be writing a detailed review very soon.