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Remember Suhas Tandon In 3 Idiots? Now The Creator Of Saam – Shiva’s Son

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By Kainat Sarfaraz:

Fantasy and mythological stories are on the rise in India. Along with writers, even actors are accepting this genre with outstretched arms. And no, we are not talking about Shahrukh Khan’s Atharva here. The focus today is on the mythological action thriller Warrior written by first time author Olivier Lafont. Set in Mumbai, the novel captures the journey of Saam as he tries to save the world from destruction. Incidentally, Saam is the only earthly demi-god child of Shiva.


Born in Lyon and brought up in Delhi, Lafont is the same actor who has portrayed the role of Suhas Tandon aka ‘price tag’ in one of the highest grossers of Bollywood, 3 idiots. The French indophile has also featured in films like Paa and Guzaarish. Apart from acting, this versatile 35-year-old has written the screenplay for an award winning film Hari Om and has featured in several advertisement commercials.

Interestingly, the actor is a self-confessed ‘fan of the fantasy genre’. Even his first published work, a novelette named Purgatory: Gun of God dealt with fantasy. It is no wonder that his first book is a hard-core mythological thriller. “From a young age I’ve written mostly fantasy stories, so writing ‘Warrior’ was a natural progression,” says Lafont, whose father, Dr. Jean-Marie Lafont, is an award-winning historian and author.

Despite being a French national, Lafont has imbibed in the culture and language of India. His earliest brush with Indian culture was through the classic Amar Chitra Katha comics. Along with attracting him towards the genre of fantasy, these comics also revealed a picture of India he had not known. Soon he started loving the life of a country which had initially felt foreign and strange. This is quite evident in his novel which vividly describes parts of India and its people. Lafont himself admits to this. “I think ‘Warrior’ is evidence of how much I love and connect with India and its phenomenal stories and mythology.”

The ease with which Lafont pens mythology is commendable. And according to him, it is his acting career which helps him in expressing his thoughts so intensely. Maybe that is the reason why along with being an action-packed thriller, Warrior also expresses the subtlety of human emotions. Love, despair, enmity, wrath, loyalty and friendship: the protagonist Saam encounters each of these on his journey throughout the book. When asked about his favourite characters in the novel, the writer confesses, “My two favourite characters are Saam and his half-brother Ara. They’re linked in a very intense, twisted way because of their family history. There’s a lot of emotion between them, hate and anger, jealousy and bitterness, alienation and resentment, which is all somehow refracted from a very deep love.”

Lafont also tries to integrate Indian mystical thoughts to science and physics by introducing the idea of multiverses in his book. “I first encountered the multiverse concept in legendary fantasy writer Michael Moorcock’s many works. The multiverse concept you find in ‘Warrior’ was particularly interesting and useful in highlighting and underlining certain ideas, as well as creating significant drama and scale. To me it seemed to reflect philosophies and ideas we find in Indian mystical thought, such as the well-known ‘everything is maya’.”

This, however, is not the only unusual thing in the book. Being a mythology, the story demanded occurrences which would not happen in our day-to-day lives. And the author has successfully provided his readers with such imageries which are not frivolous imaginings of a novice mind. They are well-researched. “Creating the world of ‘Warrior’ was like inventing a whole new cuisine from familiar elements and brand new ingredients. The research was fairly extensive into various subjects, from metallurgy to philosophy, physics to ancient weaponry, geography to history…”

The hard work paid off when the book was shortlisted for the Tiber Jones South Asia Prize, an annual literary prize to encourage unpublished and unrepresented South Asian writers. This turned out to be a pleasant and unexpected surprise for Lafont who works without expecting awards in return. The young actor, writer and director believes in pushing himself to new limits without basking in the success of his former endeavours. This is evident as he concludes by telling us about his next project, “right now I’m completely focussed on ‘Warrior’, but once it’s on its way I’m going back to my film project. For the first time I’ve written a film screenplay for myself as the main character, and I’m looking for a producer to partner with on it.”

To know more about the Warrior, check out Kainat’s review of the book.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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