5 minutes with Deepti Kapoor

Author of A Bad Character

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Deepti Kapoor takes on the controversial topics of sex, drugs and class-dissatisfaction in her debut novel, A Bad Character - which also serves as the ultimate exploration of what it's like to be a young woman in India today.

We chat to Deepti about reactions to the novel, the skewed representation of love and turning her life around...

ELLE: What’s the most surprising thing anyone’s ever said about the book?

DK: My 87-year-old grandmother declared that it was about ‘displaced people who had lost their culture’ - which is true in a way.

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ELLE: Was situating the novel in Delhi intrinsic to the story?

DK: I lived in Delhi for about ten years, and I wanted to paint a portrait of it that hadn’t been seen before, and address the parallel subterranean lives that don’t get written about.

ELLE: The story focuses on a Beauty and the Beast type infatuation, why do you think it was so important to make him look ‘ugly’?

DK: I was interested in this idea that desire doesn’t really depend on looks. It’s actually something that happened to me, and I remember this feeling of intense repulsion followed by attraction - which I thought would be interesting to write about.

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ELLE: In the novel, love has this dangerous, destructive element to it – talk to me about this.

DK: It was a reaction to the kind of novel regularly written in India – which champions the grand, overly sentimental idea of love, which I personally don’t subscribe to.

ELLE: The novel looks into the idea of double lives – talk to me about this.

DK: Actually, one of the interesting responses I’ve had to this novel is women in India are coming up to me and telling me their secrets. In India, women are expected to be a certain way and be very correct.

ELLE: So you were a former journalist living in Delhi, but now teach yoga in Goa - what prompted such a sudden life change?

DK: I met my husband around that time and I was starting to get a little sick of it all - living an unhealthy city life. I started practicing yoga, went on walks, became a vegetarian, and we just decided to move to Goa. The yoga actually helped me access certain memories to write the novel.

ELLE: What are you reading at the moment?

DK: J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace - it’s disturbing, powerful and beautifully written.

ELLE: What fictional world would you most like to live in?

DK: Paul Bowles’ novel The Sheltering Sky - set in the North African desert. I would love to live in that world; it’s very dreamy.

ELLE: Describe yourself in five words

DK: Volatile, curious, non-judgmental, secretive, stubborn

A Bad Character (Jonathan Cape), is out now

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