My new book ‘Our Story Needs No Filter’ is extremely close to my heart since it wasn’t another run-of-the-mill love story. Yes, romance was an integral part of the book and it had friendship at its core, like all my other books do, but I wanted to highlight the issue of student elections in India and how, in a lot of educational institutions in India today, they are nothing but a show of money and muscle power. They are a time when a display of money is conspicuous in the campaign, and violations of the poll code are reported frequently. Parties invest insane amounts of money for campaigning and real issues take a backseat.
I visited a few universities in Delhi where student elections are held with much pomp and show. I wanted to get a first-hand experience of the voting business, how leaders are chosen, how students fall prey to caste-based politics, how votes are cast.
The truth is, political student wings at colleges are more about political aspirations than for the cause of the students who vote for them. National issues are given more weightage than actual student issues like better hostels, libraries, scholarships and political parties use the students as their pawns.
Till I completed my higher secondary school, I was just a regular student who secured 80% marks in the 12th standard. But when I enrolled in college for my graduation, I was labelled a Brahmin. My relationship with many of my friends was affected because we would end up having heated arguments about unnecessary issues. I have fictionalized some of the same arguments in this book and shown how student politics can affect friendship adversely. To pen down these incidents and turn them into fiction was not easy but I was determined.
To get the facts right and to understand how election campaigning works inside the universities, when I visited one of the reputed universities in Delhi, I was shocked to see anti-India slogans painted on the campus walls. Such institutions should encourage and promote positive quotes by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam or Swami Vivekananda but the reality was totally different. These very students are converting knowledge hubs into dens of separatism and that worried me. This gave me the motivation to talk about all these sensitive issues through a contemporary tale of friendship and romance.
To bring a positive change in the society, we need to bring that change within ourselves first. They make us believe that we are divided by caste and in desperation of representing a particular caste, we forget that we are humans first.
I always wanted to write about the world of student politics and what goes on behind-the-scenes but was waiting for the right time to do so. So when the whole JNU fracas happened, I decided to set my new novel amidst the politically charged world of campus elections.
Set in an elaborate socio-political milieu, the book, through a contemporary tale of friendship, explores how students are manipulated for votes. The book explores the dark side of relationships, the pursuit of power and the hypocrisy of the powerful.