At his session on Day 2 of the 10th Jaipur Literature Festival, actor Rishi Kapoor told a packed Front Lawn at the Diggi Palace that he penned his memoirs only to tell people that children of famous parents don't always have it easy. That's also the underlying theme of Aishwarya Rajinikanth Dhanush's book Standing on an Apple Box: The Story of a Girl Among the Stars. During her session at JLF, Aishwarya spoke about growing up in a sheltered environment – her father superstar Rajinikanth kept her and sister Soundarya so far away from photographers that rumours of them having deformities surfaced. Even when she met her actor husband Dhanush, she wasn't given the option of dating him. It had to be marriage right away. We caught up with the filmmaker after her session to speak about putting together all these experiences for her book.
What's worse – film promotions or book promotions?
Definitely, this. When it's a movie you have some of the actors and actresses doing a bit of the talking for you. Here it's just me saying the same thing over and over again.
I learnt from your session that you're already considering a second book. Have you enjoyed this process of writing and editing?
It was a very enjoyable experience. Given the genre of the book, it didn't need too many re-edits. In fact, I didn't want to do re-edits. I should really give it to Harper Collins because they understood that. I wanted it to be as instantaneous as it sounds. So most of the book is just the first edit. We didn't go back and forth with it at all. But I'm sure when I write fiction it can't be that way. It's going to be much more difficult.
Do you remember the first time someone told you that you can write?
I think I've been into writing all my life. Given the fact that I'm an introvert by nature, I did not have too many friends and I wasn't comfortable expressing my feelings to people. So if I wanted to get something off my chest, I'd write it on a piece of paper and tear it up. So the paper and pencil have always been my best friends. And they are there at your beck and call at any given point. English was my favourite subject in school and my teacher used to tell me that my compositions were really good.
You talk about your sheltered upbringing and how you and your sister were kept so far way from the media as kids that people wondered if there was something wrong with the both of you. Given that your privacy is sacred to you, were there points while writing where you felt the need to hold back?
Whatever I've said in the book is something that I've wanted to express. I was very conscious about the fact that these were the things I wanted to write about. There was no chapter that was written and then deleted. Because of my nature, I always knew what was okay to say to people and what was not. I know people who will pick up this book are those that have great regard for my family, and I really wanted to keep it real with them.
At your session you said that you don't mind your kids working in films but you want them to know that this is not the only thing they can do. They should see the world and explore all options. But how hard is that because you also spoke about constantly protecting them from the media?
It's a huge challenge, but it's not impossible. If I'm able to pull it off I would consider myself a successful mom. Because it's not easy with the exposure to media and internet. I know I am depriving them of certain things and I know I'm pretty hard on them at times but nothing can be done because you belong where you do. You do have to give up some things for what you have.