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Inspired by 90s Bollywood


In the beginning of the Book I explained that the heroin through her her blogger she has blog posts that she kind of reviews Bollywood movies that she focuses on the ninety s which is considered the modern golden age of of Bollywood film and I feel like anything past that you start getting into these really problematic nationalist films that perpetuate a a political message here everyone welcome to immigrants. I'm your who Salvia Han today. We are going to be talking to Ascherman in two thousand. Eighteen Nisha released his first book. A novel called my so called Bollywood life to great acclaim Nisha excellently draws draws upon traditional bollywood themes to tell you the story of Indian may contain Vinnie Metha- as she deals with heartbreak a new love at your passion for Film Nisha recently released the first book of a new series the sing trilogy. She's an active blogger. She has a full time aimed job and she recently won the Rita Award for the Best Young Adult Romance Nisha. I'm so excited to have you here with us today. So let's jump. I'm frightened. You were a premed student at college. Then you ended up going to law school and now you are a published author aw with two books have you always been a writer and who in your family was most encouraging of your passion. Yes I've had a I've had a couple changes in my career first of all you know. I'm very happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me and I I did premed for a year. My father is this multi generation physician -sition. We we go back multiple years for doctors in our family So of course premed was the natural choice and you know throughout the whole process though I was always as a writer I used to publish stories when I was in high school and I wrote Fan fiction a lot when I was younger and then when I got into college and I switched out of Pre med I ended up aggressively pursuing my passion for writing so I tell people that I became a career writer writer at that point even though I was going through school and I ended up going through law school and working in corporate after that but I I've always written and that drive to be a published writer never changed and as a kid and as a young adult. Will you always embracing of your South Asian Heritage Age did that relationship D.C time to evolve. I have to say that I grew up with incredibly supportive. I guess that's the second part of your first question. I grew up with very supportive parents. I grew up with very supportive extended family and although they always used to say you know choose a career that will make you money and then pursue your passion. Ashen until you're passionate also makes you as much money because they approach it from a very realistic you know you know culturally influenced mindset but they never discouraged me from writing and because of the way that I was raised with you know always knowing that you know now every single part of myself was completely accepted by the people that I love and that love me you know I never questioned my identity and and I have to okay. I'm I'm probably one of the few that's been fortunate enough to always think like it's completely normal to bring Chutney cucumber sandwiches to lunch in high school but you know that's that I have to say. I've been incredibly blessed to just never have that issue. You know it's so interesting because I was on your blog. I was reading through some of your blog articles and and talk about your mom's recipes which we will talk about in a little bit but you talk about shut me on toes and then yes Ma and it just reminded me off you know when I was growing up and shut me is one of those things which you can just put on anything and tastes. Just it tastes delicious. Nisha moving on you. Talk about on your website how you manage your day job and your writing. What is your D- so after law school I worked in government contracts and I ended up moving into diversity and inclusion so my day the job is pretty much. You know the same as what my personal passion is. I'm making sure that people of color and underrepresented groups have a voice race and have their whole identities accepted and included in this world so let's talk about your book. my still called Bollywood Life How did you think of the idea for my so called Bollywood life and when did inspiration really streak so I wrote my so called Bollywood life as as part of my MFA thesis so after Oh yeah so I so after law school I decided to go back to school. you know. I tell people all the time. If I could be a career student I would prefer it occurs student because I you know I love school. I had to write a novel for my. MFA which I was getting part time while I was working and the MFA kind of you know gave you the structure like okay you have to write a book and you know it has to have these components and approach it like you would approach the thesis paper so that's how I approach my novel. I personally like a thesis paper so I wanted to accomplish a few specific things. When I wrote this book the first wise I wanted to write the novel which I personally hadn't seen on the shelves about a heroine who was completely comfortable with her identity similar to the way that I grew up because I felt like there wasn't enough of that representation on the shelves. The second is I wanted to write a book where the heroine had a very positive relationship with her parents similar to the way that I had a positive relationship with mine because a lot of the time when you read South Asian fiction the parents represent tradition and the hero and heroine represents a modern change of culture and they're always at odds but I wanted to make sure that you know there are stories out there that they don't have to be at odds they can move and change and evolve together and the the third thing is that there's so many there's a lot of different takes on what Bollywood means what Bollywood is and it's kind of become this this word that is used. I think it for South Asians in general it's a catch all phrase and the true meaning and the true definition this lost and how it's the Hindi language film industry in India and it has affected generations generations of people in the way that we you know view view film and entertainment so I wanted to really explore something like that and my so-called Bollywood life came out of those three principles and really developed into what I like to tell people as the love letter to my younger self because it has these three things that I valued so much growing up and on top of that. It's about a heroin who's so so sure in so confident in what she wants to do and that's how I always wished I was but you know I I was a normal teenager and you know we all go through growing pains so that is that's kind of how the book of talking about Bollywood. How did you tackle some of the issues that Bollywood film industry faces. I think some of the problematic aspects of Bollywood Lake sexism and objectification of women ran lack of representation of wider India brought to India. I just see like specific regions of India that are more represented sure in Bollywood and even when we look at social class th-the certain social clause clause that it appeals to so how did shirtdress fat so because the book is a young adult novel a lot of the personal opinions and perspectives that the heroin has are very rose tinted glasses but she does reference specific things in Bollywood that she doesn't agree with and she feels you know need need to be addressed or that. People shouldn't live their lives believing and you know they're they're part of Bollywood and she accepts it but she doesn't agree with if it so like item numbers or something that she doesn't like because it's a objective is women and you know why. Are we still having item numbers. That's the question you know. I don't understand why there's still like most of the time they don't even have purpose anymore. They evolved from like pieces in movies aware you know they they were. They built the element of suspense between the hero and heroine during the item number two now literally just object defying the woman so that's what that's one and then you know. The other thing is in the beginning of the book. I explained that the heroin through her blog are she has blog posts that she kind of reviews Bollywood movies that she focuses on the nineties which is considered the modern golden age of Bollywood film and I feel like anything past that you start getting into these really problematic nationalist films that perpetuate a political message and you know not to say that there's zero good films after or like two thousand there are tons of you know really good movies that talk about class and representation and sexism and but again they're few and far between versus like the overall body of the movies that have come out so the nineties kind of you know. Was You know where where you have. The group dances and it's like really the rose tinted glasses would make sense you know having a character who has rose tinted glasses would make sense if she he likes those particular movies in that area even thousands. I remember movie Zara. Yeah it was like Cross Bader rising using on peace promoting of that message and now as you mentioned movies have become a lot more nationalistic. we see this blake misplaced nationalistic for why do you think Nisha that is the case now whereas like ten years ago so it could be see the chicken before the egg you know where it could be. That film is perpetuating a message. That's affecting society or could be society. That's creating this message and then it's affecting the films that are representing the Times so I think because of the political turmoil that's currently happening in India. a lot of the films elms are trying to create a a and I put it in air quotes a a real view of like what some of the issues are but they're not they're they are completely slanted with a political message based on honestly WHO's. PROBAB- whoever is probably funding funding the film and whether it's aggravating the political situation I'm not sure because you know here in the US we got. I think we get a very filtered filtered message of what's really happening over there and when I talk to family members over there they also feel like you know there's just this tension and I think you know you hear you feel that tension a little bit in the movies that are coming out so which honestly every Bollywood Fan that I've talked to recently. You know whenever we have the discussion. Even some of the scholars had consulted who are now friends of mine who study Bollywood film as an actual you know through through universities and you know where they teach film. They all say the same thing you know. The film industry is now become a almost like a media outlet where it's just producing a message and hopefully hopefully it will go back to being an entertainment. You know like it'll be focused on entertainment while also you you know creating positive real stories that we can all connect with in a way that like doesn't focus so much on politics but on social issues of the people you know and I grew up in Pakistan and I have like I grew up with Bollywood movies and I cannot relate delete them anymore and it's sad it's a saddens me because everytime I go through the list of new releases I'm like or should I want you all right is hey if you know my religion is being vilified in almost every volume than I just don't want to watch that right. Oh well how what has been response from readers of your book. I think I've been so fortunate to have readers who've really either there have never heard of Bollywood before comes to me and say you know I've never been introduced to the film Industry Worship Start and I always tell them star with the nineties but you know that you know they feel like they've been opened up to a new to a new culture in a positive way where they feel like they aren't being fed something. That's been filtered through. You know a lot of different like interpretations. They feel like okay. This is real. Oh this is this is something that you know like is is from an own voice author so I've had that and I think the most rewarding ones the readers who have come to me who are South Asian and who have been brought up in in the US in who say that you knew what I felt like. I haven't found a book that focuses is on the positive upbringing that South Asians can you know experience in the US and I feel like I found it in your book so so I've been super fortunate orch knit and and really humbled by the experience of talking to readers who have come from either end whether they've known bollywood or you know their entire lives or I never experienced it before. Nisha I should have asked this question in the beginning but you were born and raised in the US how integral was Bollywood Bollywood part of your childhood growing up because I can understand Pakistan or even in India. It's different ratio exposed. Do these movies a lot more but since you grew up here how integral was that in not just your but your friends salvation friends and others my mom uh-huh actually came over from India I my mom's family she came over when she was about thirteen and she moved to Queens New York and in Queens they found a very robust community of South Asians and their culture and identity and everything was so preserved so so when she went back to shoot go back to India. It felt like there was no lapse in you know in upbringing like she. She felt like you know she her and her cousins could communicate the same as if she had been brought up and raised in India but then I grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and so funny enough. My culture was still I felt like preserved in the small. Indian community had found it in northeast northeast. PA just a few hundred families but my parents used to speak to us in Hindi eight Indian food every night you know for dinner and we'd have Bollywood movies playing all the time on weekends a we would celebrate American holidays and then they would become this this you know in defied like holiday experience so everything skimming to date. I swear it still happens after dinner. Everyone's like cool. WHAT SHOULD WE WATCH. Let's watch movie. What should we watch and my uncle and my mother always a show. Les Look like for like thirty years in watching Shola after Thanksgiving dinner so you know I think also the other thing is I was trained as a dancer so I learned cut the classical classical Indian dance since I was seven so from seven to think like when I was in college you know it was that the experience of training where you'd Ha- you have to understand the myths and the the history behind gut the like that also I was constantly studying it and exposed to it and then watching old bollywood films where they actually used to have cut the classical pieces in these also helped preserve. I feel like preserve is the wrong word to use but it also helped shape a lot of my my salvation experience growing up so volley would life recently won an Award Rita What Best Young Adult Romance. What does this mean to you and what is the significance of you having won it so the Rideau Ward Award is considered the Gold Standard Award for Romance Fiction and it is something that ever since I joined our W I was nineteen when I joined because I wanted to be career writer? So of course he joined the One organization that connects you with other romance writers ever since I was nineteen. I knew that I wanted to win. A Rita and it's you know a wonderful experience to not only be have your book celebrated in the Genre but it also opens you up to opportunities unity's because it kind of validates the you as a professional writer in a lot of ways. There's there's many things that validate you as a writer and you you know a lot of it has to be self allegation which you know of course is is something that a lot of writers struggle with such as myself but this is like one of those milestones that I've they've always had in in the back of my mind as something that is part of my validation and so when I wanted first of all I couldn't stop crying. The name and I'm like I was just a mess and I was like I'm not gonNA cry. There's no way I'm not a crier. There's no way and I just I like lost. It and I think it's because that moment it was such a huge I was it was such it was so huge for me and also for the Romance Writing Community because I was the first South Asian to ever win Arita Award and there's so many South Asian writers who had come before me who had been nominated but had never reached that step so I felt like I I was getting something that honestly the I should have gone to you know nelani saying or to Sonali Dave who were both amazing writers who had been nominated in the past and then you I'm just so humbled by the experience of like okay like my so called Bollywood. Life resonated with readers to the point where like I was able to. I was able to be be honored with this award for it so so I have to say that it was it was definitely a moment I think for like two weeks afterwards my husband and I are celebrating the sing trilogy shirt. What is that book all about and how do you into by so-called Bollywood life so my so called Bollywood. Life is young adult but the same trilogy Elegy is a Contemporary Romance and it's considered illegal thriller and the reason why I wanted to write because I've always thought of myself as an adult romance writer. I I never really thought I would write a young adult book but you know through the MFA process. It felt like the right story to tell for a high school student but the sing trilogy legiti incorporates a lot of my a adults a a lot of my experiences as in corporate America as you know in my twenties I I worked very closely with C. level executives. I worked very closely with you. Know Presidents of organizations and you see a lot of the decisions that go on behind the scenes that you would never experience. I think if you were like a couple levels below so I've always been fortunate enough to work at you know so closely closely with the executive leadership and I also love the the trope the billionaire trope so there's tons of trump's in romance Danton secret baby. There's like you know like the the Duke and the Duchess and you know so but I've always loved the billionaire trope and I thought to myself at one point and like okay you know I wanNA ride in Romance. We kind of story. Do I want to tackle I and I I thought to myself you know I love the billionaire trope and there's so many South Asian billionaires. Why is there no South Asian billionaire romance so a so that that was kind of you know where for my thought process had gone and I was like you know the the the story the the takeover factors the first in a trilogy about three brothers who are trying to preserve the immigrant emigrant dream for their father who had had become tech billionaire because he was brilliant at his at code and he came over he started a company Caen who registered patents and the patents became mega money making machines and he raised threes three sons and in all of them are very strong willed like Alpha male bobby like so the hours that you think of right and end the premise of the story is there is this company that is now trying to take over the the father's organization and the three sons are doing. Everything can't everything they can to protect their fathers immigrants. What are some of the differences between writing young adult loved and a dodger MOMS. What did you expedience. When you were writing. this one versus the other one so young. Adult Romance an adult romance honestly the the process ossis is pretty much the same. I feel like a both are incredibly difficult to sit down and tell a story that adheres to the character's voice voice and the conflict. That's true to like you know the the character you're creating. I'm so the process is very similar the difference I have to say that I experienced experienced is for why a because it was so close to to the way I grew up and you know my love her bollywood the level of research was is it just kind of revisiting experiences that I had my childhood like watching all these movies again with adult romance as much as I understand corporate contracts tracks. I actually had to do a significant amount of research so I I have of course with the company that I worked for like I have access assists to the the legal team that handles mergers and acquisitions so I actually sat with you know like peers at my organization and I was you know I'm in a different different department and I was like can I buy you coffee and I ended up picking a lot of their brains and just you know and of course researching like how the super wealthy live it which is something that you know. It's amazing kind of blew my mind. How like what what wealthy people do to do a lot of that research as well and you also write a blog and one of your block series is shading your mom's recipe and I love that I was looking at that What is your favorite recipe. And why did you start that so I'll I'll into the second part of the action I so my second young adult novel all which comes out in twenty twenty one since a few years from now it is a about a heroine who is a gut the dancer who tries to connect with her father through cooking because he owns a restaurant in Chicago and her parents got divorced and she moves to New Jersey and she wants to maintain the relationship with him and the only real language that they have that shared food so she starts cooking these recipes that were passed down through his family family to try to connect with him and I ended up thinking about it in terms of my own relationship with food and my parents and and the recipes that have been passed down in how cooking really is is like there's no measurements in south Asian cooking right yeah. There's no there's no measurements and like so mom can't write them down like it's kind of sitting across the kitchen counter from her and watching her do it and finding out like okay like you know this is when you taste this is how much you salt like she puts in by just you know like like taking out her silver tin and Mike just scooping up like a couple like teaspoons assault so it's really just it was the whole process of just learning about cooking for that book was personal for me and a lot of the A. and through the process of writing it and you know learning cooking through revisiting that food connection with my parents as an adult. I was like you know I have to have to share some of these experiences like I know that there's no measurements with the way that I grew up you know watch my mom cooking but like I have to figure out a way to measure it out and so that's how he started it to kind of create this log of these recipes that I've loved and like some of the changes that I've made you know as an adult now so so that's how it started and and I totally forgot the first part of your question is your favorite. Oh my my favorite recipe is my mom's basic pistachio malade Kofi. It's super super easy. It's actually an easy recipe but I remember her like ever. Since I you know I was a child in the summer when we'd be at home like school who was out we'd be outside playing or whatever and we'd come in and she like freeze these local fee like in Little Goofy popsicle containers for us and and growing up like there was a period of time like in college and you know in law school where I didn't really I wasn't really cooking a lot but you know now that I'm settled. I like from recalling her up like a couple of years ago and saying I missed your maligned goofy like every once in a while. We'll go home and she'll have it in the summer but you know. I WanNa make it and she was kind of like okay over you know she. She wouldn't talk to me on the phone about it so I came over and since then I have to say. Mine is now a little bit better than hers but you know I can't really we tell her that to her. Face Cook regularly. Is that something that you do as well yeah we I mean because busy schedules me and my husband we tend to really spend time together and connect the most over dinner so after we were Cold Day and so we've tried to make that something that we share together so the process this is like is making food and sitting together and talking throughout like when we were kids and how we'd connect with our parents through food so we try to do that now together so let's talk about your husband. You got landed in two thousand nineteen so you have your own Romance Story. How did you guys meet so we we are the product of the modern day arranged marriage we are both our parents had put our profiles up on jd you dot com and they had paid for subscriptions for us and One and he was a little it'll be better about it and checked it himself. My mother would check it for me because I refuse to look at it and not to say that I wasn't I was against okay but I just felt like I was. I didn't have as much faith in Chevy. Dot Com I think as a neal had so he he would check his profile. He saw my profile. He sent me a message and then two months later. We met three months after that our parents harassment you know and then we got married. We actually eloped. I saw why so we eloped last year because we knew that if we were going to have have a wedding it was going to be a South Asian Punjabi wedding and we wanted something and we're very very we're very simple. People I think in terms of like the way that we celebrate with friends and family so we just texted are siblings and our best friends and we said mutant central park at this time on this and we went to macy's and I got myself like a a short cocktail dress and he got himself a suit and we showed up we we had a ceremony in central park last year and then we went out for Tacos and then the next day. We told her parents what we did and they said you've made all your decisions now. It's time for us to make our and so that led to a job he wedding in. They bore our own Johnny over the course of four days. I Lake about South Asian weddings. It's the same in focused on on. You have like four five rents. You have family coming together so much fun so Nishat shot. Your husband is from south India and you're north Indian people who don't know India that may not realize that different regions in India. We have really significantly in terms of cultures and traditions. How do you guys reconcile both your cultures at home so being I think for being I grew up on the east coast and because my mom was had been here since thirteen you you know she knew all of this South Asian spots basically this is where we shot this is where we eat. This is where you know this is she her and her family had kind of acclimated needed to finding the pockets of culture where they needed it and so I grew up eating those I grew up eating you know like Italy and you you know I grew up with an awareness of south south Indian culture so his family settled all the way on the west coast in an area area where there was no zero like our house to North Indians to pretty much like they're pretty isolated seleted so so they would get their cultural influence when they went back to Carola. which is you know which is great for for them to access that stuff which is fabulous but when a neil and I met it was it was a learning experience for him and it was a lot of fun too because because I thought I understood South Asian or south Indian like food and culture and then like I got the authentic experience when I started eating eating his mom's cooking which by the way she's amazing like her and my mother that they need to open up a restaurant together? They're so good but like south. Indian cooking is very spicy and like when you go to Dosa like they don't make Sambra's spicy as my mother-in-law no so it was like the first time I think I ate like like her food. I felt my mouth was GONNA burn off but it was so good. It was like it was the you know the Indian food. That's so spicy that you just keep going even though like yeah because I thought like nursing in food which is similar to Pakistan e food they can especially in. I thought that's very spicy too not like south in control. Can you know my Gosh. I thought I had thought I had it under control but no when you start eating like spicy south Indian food. It is a whole other experienced. Dan suit talking about do those. Have you tried this to Kat. That's in Wash Park. I've heard so many good things about it. I have no. It's like this this guy. His name is through Kumar. Apparently he has this got like do Sakata in wash bark and he's interesting famous I I'm. I'm planning to go one day and have his food and meaning to him as well but you should try that. Oh no definitely I feel like what I've been doing is. I've been hitting all the but aren't please hit like the BARRANCA food car. That's all the way up near Penn station food cart as well. There's a put onto alley early in Jersey City which is amazing. I'm obsessed with yeah. No it's it's so good so and then we've also been trying the fusion food. That's been cropping up in New York so like the Indian Gash Republic. Honestly it's like you can't go there expecting Indian food like you have to go there expecting fusion food so and especially when people who've grown up with South Asian food when we go out and try it for us. It's like it has to be really good for for. I I it to satisfy us. I guess Sony show way again. People find your book is it books like are the on Amazon or like wake in the fight everywhere so they're on Amazon their own Barnes and noble there you know they are directly through my publisher site. You can even find them on the target website like you can you can get them anywhere and we will also post links to your books on our website once we reduce your episode in the end if you would describe America America in a word sentence and unit writer. I'm sure you'll do traffic. Would you it possibilities possibilities. I still believe that even though like you know India is going through a political turmoil and America's going through the same kind of political turmoil there still possibilities for positive change and positive growth and four for dreams to come true so oh I would say you know my parents and my grandparents had their possibilities realized and their dreams realized and hopefully that I can pass that on to my kids as well. Thank you so much. This was wonderful best of luck and I got to read the rest of your book this one I am. Ben Your new book which is coming out in two twenty twenty one right so the yeah so the next young adult book is coming out in twenty twenty one and that's not for me but they put on the adult novel is coming out in February of twenty twenty seconds so that's sooner yet so yes. That's the one sir thank you so white and thank you to our listeners our website is. WWW DOT immigrant pod dot com come come back next week when we have another inspiring story and in the meantime stay connected

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