While the girl on the poster behind her stayed frozen in her mid-tumble, upside down stance, author and actress Twinkle Khanna, posed book in hand, with her feet firmly planted on the ground. At the launch of her latest book, Pyjamas are Forgiving, which comes in the wake of her previous two best-selling literary offerings, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad and Mrs. Funnybones, one got a taste of her mercurial wit, razor-sharp humour, and self-effacing demeanour. And though the event drew some of the biggest names in Bollywood, not all the stars in the business could outshine the contented glint in the author’s eye.
Joining Twinkle on stage was filmmaker and emcee of the evening, Karan Johar, who lent his intuitive nature to explore the work at hand. He started off by asking a question that has been on everybody’s mind: Why the title, Pyjamas are Forgiving? “Well, in the book the protagonists are wearing pyjamas throughout. Plus, the garment is an allegory of life itself, because when you wear pyjamas, it’s up to you to decide how tight you want to pull the drawstring. If you tie it too loose, you end up with no pants on,” said Twinkle.
The book, which is set in an Ayurvedic spa in Kerala, tells the story of Anshu, a divorcee and her run-in with her ex-husband. Though Anshu is confined in a space brimming with rigid rules that hope to cleanse one’s system, she finds herself writhing in the resentment and anger trapped in memories. While narrative devices like flashbacks offer insight into personalities and the quality of relationships, the author’s intelligent use of metaphor adds poignant layers to the narrative. The book also gives a nod to a movement that has been on our lips and minds; “Whatever happens in the world does filter into your writing. The Me Too movement has impacted all of us, not just women but men as well and it found its way into my book too. The book does deal with consent because there’s a lot of ambiguity around consensual sex,” reveals Twinkle.
Since the book is dedicated to mom Dimple Kapadia, Karan, who gave us the line ‘It’s all about loving your parents’, was quick to point out the fact and quiz Twinkle about it. “My writing focuses heavily on women - who she really is and what she is expected to be. My mom has inspired a lot of my feminist perspectives. When we were little and moved to my grandmother’s house, my mother would wake up every day at five and workout to Jane Fonda tapes. Then she would go to work, do three shifts and come home at nine. I realised from an early age that a woman doesn’t have to rely on anyone and that men were okay as dessert, but they were certainly not the main course. My mom set the bar so high that I have spent my whole life reaching for it. That’s why this book and everything that I write should be dedicated to her,” said the author.
A few more questions revealed Twinkle’s disinterest in cinematic adaptations of her book, her approach to criticism, which she said doesn’t affect her as she gives each work her absolute best and her derision for the term ‘icon’; “The word itself is problematic. It feels like I’m saying ‘I’m conning you,” joked Twinkle. The jovial banter was punctured by readings conducted by the poised and well-dressed Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and boisterous Ranveer Singh, who came dressed in colourful pyjamas.
As the event came to a close, the paparazzi made a beeline for the stage. There, shining in the reflected light of camera flashes stood Akshay Kumar, who was later joined by Ranveer Singh. Well, Mrs. Funnybones, at your next book-related event, we hope the spotlight stays on you.