About 10 years ago I decided to quit television and take up writing full-time. I was the vice president of Zee Telefilms at that time and quitting was not an easy decision. I had two more offers from within the television industry but I didn’t want to take them up. While writing was a complete change of career, it was also risky.
Nine years ago, I got a book to edit, written by Lord Meghnad Desai about actor Dilip Kumar. Since I was interested in cinema, I was thrilled. Little did I realise then that it would turn out to be very significant for me. Meghnad and I met a couple of times to discuss the work, which was subsequently published as Nehru’s Hero Dilip Kumar: In the Life of India. Gradually he got interested in my work — as well as me. We often discussed the books that he or I wanted to write. Meghnad also thought we should do a book together on Nargis and Sunil Dutt. Somewhere along the line, we decided to get married.
The plan to write this book got pushed to the back-burner. But when it was revived, we realised that a lot of interviews had to be done in Mumbai which Meghnad could not do as he’s based in London. I told him that I would take care of them and he could come in at a later point when the book was being written. When the book was written — Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt — he insisted that it go exclusively in my name. He wrote the foreword though. I am emotionally very attached to it as we had planned to do it together.
Witness the Night — which won the Costa First Novel Award for 2010 — was another important landmark for me. It was inspired by the stories of female infanticide in Punjab which I had heard 10 years ago while travelling through the state. The book was published in several different languages and also got me a three-book contract with Simon & Schuster. Origins of Love, which was published recently, is the second book in the trilogy and talks about surrogacy.