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Landscapes of Writing

Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa


Bapsi Sidhwa

Edited By Teresa Russo

This book is a collection of essays by international writer Bapsi Sidhwa gathered for the first time in one edition by Teresa Russo, with a foreword written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Landscapes of Writing: Collected Essays of Bapsi Sidhwa provides a writer’s perspective on issues of South Asian literature, linguistics, poetry, and views of political events and globalization. In the first part of the book, Bapsi Sidhwa discusses her childhood, family life, and how she became a writer. There is also a revised essay detailing how her book Cracking India became a film by Deepa Mehta. The second part of the book focuses on her thoughts concerning war, terrorism, and how to achieve peace. This collection includes two letters, demonstrating her local and nationalistic perspectives to a larger view of an interconnected world.

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Chapter 7. Watching My Novel Become Deepa Mehta’s Film


← 54 | 55 →

· 7 ·


June 6, 20161

Early one January morning I get a call from Deepa Mehta. She has just read my novel Cracking India. She wants to make it into a movie. “But tell me, please, has the book been optioned?” she asks.


“Thank God!” That breathless, slightly raucous laugh.

I haven’t heard of Deepa Mehta. As she talks I realize she understands each nuance of the novel and the significance of the Parsee girl Lenny as narrator. Lenny bears witness to the violence of religious hatred that led to the Partition of India in 1947. Although Deepa Mehta is Canadian and I’m American, we both have our origins in the Punjab. I’m from the Pakistani side of the border, she is from the Indian side. Considering that India and Pakistan often teeter on the brink of nuclear war, this, too, has significance.

When I finally interrupt Deepa to tell her that she can make the film, there is an abrupt silence, and then: “But what if someone else calls you tomorrow with an offer?”

Her insecurity is touching. “Cracking India has been around for four years and no one’s optioned it,” I say. “I don’t think anyone’s going to call tomorrow.” ← 55 | 56 →

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