Madonna of Mumbai Cats
Published in 2010
A set of evocative and sensitive stories of ordinary people who live out their lives in the tumultuous heaving force that is the city of Mumbai.They live out their hopes aspirations, small victories and disappointments in the city that actively shapes and defines all who live in it
How I survived Motherhood
Published in 2013
There are super powers that lurk under the surface of every bumbling young woman who holds a wailing combination of spermatozoa and ova to her breast and smiles at new minted motherhood. These are humourous short pieces that celebrate the tussles, trials and triumphs of motherhood that will strike a funny chord with every one who has interacted with children.
Marry Go Round
Published in 2013
Written in a refreshingly original style this is a full length novel which is quaint mix of today’s merrily irreverent humour and a staid Hyderabadi Nawabi milieu that is committed to arranged marriages with girls chosen for their illustrious lineage to propogate the clan.Here we have a determined mother blatantly using emotional blackmail to coerce her NRI son into a correct marriage.
House of Discord
Published in 2017
The Post Babri Masjid Bombay of 1992 is wallowing in hate and violence. In this cauldron the Deshmukh family with an inter communal marriage, tensions and strife within their own ranks, come to the brink of complete disruption with the communal forces targeting their home. But family ties hold strong and love triumphs.This multilayered family saga is a metaphor for the city that tried to destroy itself.
Published in 2019
A psychological thriller set in a remote thikkana in Rajasthan where old angers, hates ,loves and loyalties endure and people live life larger than most.A young professional girl whose mother disappeared when she was four is compelled to go back in time to her childhood in Mayurkhund where her mother was mistress to the Maharaja and she fell in love with the heir apparent… who may have been her own brother.
Sadiqa Peerbhoy is a seasoned advertising professional who has been the writer and creative director behind the making and sustaining of many Indian and global brands. To keep her sanity in the maddening world of advertising, she took to writing a topical humour column and has been columnist for three newspapers over a period of two decades and has a large base of readers who still fondly recall her Swalpa Adjust Madi, Myopic View and Sweet n Sour. Hundreds of her short stories have found their way into magazines and weekend papers and won several awards.She has scripted serials for
Doordarshan Sara Jahan Hamara and the long running Honee Anhonee.
Sadiqa has six published books of fiction. Marry Go Round-a funny take on arranged marriages, drew rave reviews from critics and was presented as a play to full houses in the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival. Her last book- House of Discord- has rated a five on five by readers and reviewers.Mayurkhund is her seventh book.
Sadiqa is passionate about Hindustani music and lives in Bangalore with her family.
Poster for Marry Go Round Play
Directed by Ashish Sen for Deccan Herald Theatre Festival
Sadiqa Peerbhoy and Yasmeen Premji discussing
House of Discord at the launch event at Bangalore Litfest 2018
A large audience attended the bookreading from Mayurkhund at Catholic Club which included Rajasthani music, dance, typical Rajasthani snacks and a dramatic enactment of the two protagontists by a theatre group.
Rehearsals for the play Shaadi Ki Kirkiree
(Marry Go Round) scheduled to go on stage April2019
Sadiqa Peerbhoy and Yasmeen Premji discussing
House of Discord at the launch event at Bangalore Litfest 2018
Chief Secretary Karnataka Sudhakar Rao launches Mayurkhund on 2nd March 2019 at Sapna BookHouse
Marry Go Round, once again was presented as a very successful play in Bangalore by the Katputliyan Threatre Group at The Chowdiah Memorial Hall and at Alliance Francais. All the six shows ran to full houses with the audience laughing nonstop. Theplay was translated into Deccani Urdu by Zafer Moihiuddin and had a great ensemble cast.
In The Press
Dipankar: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this discussion. Publishing your book has been a wonderful experience. House of Discord is a story about a discordant family stuck in the middle of communal riots. Why did you choose to write about a Discordant family? Do you see that as a reflection of what is happening around us?
Sadiqa: I wrote about a discordant family because they are so much more interesting than happy families! I think I am intrigued by the dynamics of interpersonal relationships…how they change and evolve with time. Having done psychology in college it is endlessly engaging to delve into the psyche of characters who seem to acquire dimensions and facets they did not have when you started writing.
My discordant family reflects the discordance outside in the city which was once known for its communal tolerance. At one level it is a metaphor for the city of Bombay that found itself driven by hate and fissured by anger post Babri Masjid episode.
Dipankar: Why just Mumbai, isn’t the whole country experiencing a strange intolerance towards communal harmony? Well let’s keep that for another day, but do you sense a strange impatience in the country today that is making lives very difficult?
Sadiqa: The country today is steadily opting for a communal versus a secular culture which is at variance with our secular constitution. While people wait for achhe din to manifest the minorities are becoming more marginalized than ever before and are fearful of being heard. These are difficult and trying times for all and I hope the politicians blinkered by their narrow minded agendas learn to see the broader picture.
Dipankar: Debatable but largely true. Do you think Literature can be considered a potent medium to bring any change in mind-set or reforms, may be even raise a voice of dissent? Do you believe your writing can bring about some change in the readers? If so, why?
Sadiqa: I think it is a rare book that can change mindsets but then its been known to happen… remember Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird ?
Dipankar: Coming to House of Discord and its specifics, have you fictionalized personal experiences.
Sadiqa: I have not used my personal experiences in my writing. These are observations of interactions between people and characters that have left an impress on my mind. Even stories that I have heard narrated somehow work their way into fiction. Somewhere in the long lonely tussle with the computer screen, things you
thought you had long forgotten come swimming up in the mind and take shape as incidents that take the plot forward. If you wrote only about your own life you would burn out in one book.
Dipankar: Some say, writing a book is cathartic. Did writing this book bring closure to some conflicts within you? Did it help you deal with life better?
Sadiqa: Writing a book is likegiving birth.It demands to be put out in the world and to stop is self defeating. House of Discord was one such book for me..it had to be written.So I guess in away it is cathartic but I should think personal stories would be far more cathartic and help in resolving issues.
Dipankar: You added a ghost to the story. So do you believe in ghosts and supernatural elements? And what is so unique about this ghost and its role in the story?
Sadiqa:The ghost of Aunt Nimma is a mascot of the old house..a symbol of all that is old and refusing to let go In HOD Nimma establishes the venerability and history of the homestead.I do believe in ghosts but have never seen one. But then they add so much mystique and drama to life.The unexplained always does.
Dipankar: You have a spinster daughter as a character in the story. Would you have treated her in a similar way even today?
Sadiqa: Today Sarita would have been a hard core professional with a great career and would not be pining away for a husband in her life.Nor would she have been so cowed by her mother.
Dipankar: What do you think are the three take aways for any reader from House of Discord?
Sadiqa:That families ties are strong supports during trials. That doing the right thing always as per Dharma may be hard at times but keeps the conscience happy. That fighting for one’s God is stupid because God does not need anyone to fight for Him and communal thinking is the worst kind of sacrilege when all religions enjoin you to love your neighbour.
Dipankar: Tell us something about your writing regime. How do you write? When do you write and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sadiqa: I write most mornings from 9 to about 1 but the mind is always mulling over the storyline unfolding.The flash of an idea can happen anytime.My inspiration is mostly life around me, the infinite variety of people and lives they have led.The stories you hear in ordinary conversation are often the starting point of something that can spin out a short story even an entire book.So I listen hard when people ramble on about their experiences.
Dipankar: What are the greatest joys and biggest challenges of being an author?
Sadiqa: The biggest challenge is to get started and greatest joy is when words flow out clamouring to be put down–sometimes faster than you can type them– from some subconscious level of your mind and characters start taking shape as if with a life of their own. And you know you are in what the sportsmen call The Zone. Sometimes you go back and read a passage that just streamed out and wonder if it was you who wrote it.
The hardest challenge is also to market your book in today’s competitive market..
Dipankar: Ah…You speak about the Achilles’ heel, marketing, for every author. Why do you think it is becoming more and more difficult to market a book?
Dipankar: Authors have an important role to play in the society. What is your view of that role? How do you see yourself performing that role?
Sadiqa: I think all artists are essential to the survival of civilization and culture. They are the intelligentsia that form the counterpoint to the hoi polloi and the brash unthinking masses. Their lives are larger than the daily struggle to get by.Anyone who is not a good human being cannot be a good artist or writer because you have to love life and humanity with all its warts to be able to write anything worthwhile. I do not think of myself as a political creature but I hope I will have the courage take a stand against tyranny of the petty minded and the narrow focused, if necessary.
Dipankar: Reading as a medium of entertainment is losing out to its more flashy siblings…a simple reflection of how the world reacts to things that are subtle. Do you think books have a future?
Sadiqa: As long as they teach reading in schools, books in whatever form, will have a future.Because reading gives you the kind of participative satisfaction that no amount of television and digital media can.Right now predisgested content is giving instant gratification to young couch potatoes but there will come a time when the mind tires and seeks more depth in what it engages with.
Dipankar: It was a wonderful session Sadiqa. Thank you once again. We would request all our readers to pick up your book, House of Discord and enjoy the read.
THE LARGER LIFE
I cut my teeth on tales of never- say- die grit, impossible generosity and loves that defied death.A grandfather is known for having gifted a brand new Dodge to the family doctor who could not start his own rattletrap in time for a small emergency. A distant relative mourned her husband for 16 years by wearing white and refusing to step out of the home.I recall watching with a four year old’s awe when an uncle smashed his fist through window panes everytime he had a fight with his girlfriend. (Well..not so grand a gesture but still..intensity .)He also drank a bottle of Dettol once– but that is another story.)
Today love with all its passions and pains is now battered down to a dimunitive ‘ lv’ as its travels in mindless forwards on sms.The grandeur of sex with all its inherent pining , longing and fulfillment is down to slap-bang and what-did-you-say- your- name- was coupling.And who has the time to wallow in the pleasure-pain of a true blue heartbreak!
I think human beings have short changed all that makes us human. The rat race has shorn us of emotions.So much so that we bury a parent and go back to work the next day because it would cut into our annual leave.Practicality? Or just a plain mistrust of emotions?A cruel battening down of the heart’s natural reactions?
Emotions –pain, pleasure, love, sorrow, hurt and joy, even anger, are what make human beings rise above the animal plane.They are the warp and weft of life.The tapestry that the heart weaves with a multitude of dark , myriad hued and glimmering gold and silver threads to create unique pattern of each individual life.
With Mayurkhund I wanted to write about larger than life emotions. A young girl’s life long quest for a missing mother.A mother ‘s story of passion , betrayal and inevitable slide into alcoholism.Grand passions of a dissolute Maharjah.Unrelenting vengeance long in the planning.Generosity and forgiveness.A lifetime of an unspoken love.And what better place to locate them in than Rajasthan with its grand sweep of geography rife with lore and myths that inspire the Rajputs to this day.The long repeated tales of love and valour that still echo in the folk songs and seem to hum in the desert air.
So I have a microcosm in Mayurkhund.( Don’t look it up. No such place exists.) It could be any small thikkana in the stark vastness of the Thar desert .It has its own mythology and mysteries, its own stories of erstwhile Maharajas and its own ghosts.Its palace, now fallen on stringent times, is still rife with old world loyalties, intrigue and plots and murder conspiracies.Its two Ranis’ live in an uneasy harmony and its heir apparent has not quite recovered from a coma following a polo fall.Into this closeted milieu comes back Amari who has her own ghosts to lay, her own answers to find and to come to terms with a first intense love that still has the power to topple the construct of her new life in Mumbai.
A larger than life tale with larger than life emotions that ripple across the pages.Mayurkhund has no message to hold out for the reader except that emotions are not something to be ashamed off and to seal away in steel lined chambers of the heart as we get on with life.They are life itself..in all its fascinating dramatic facets.So go on.Make yourself the larger than life heroine or hero of your own life.Make life larger.Stir in the intensity.Intensify the pallid colours .
Mayurkhund spans two decades and two generations to tell the stories of a mother and daughter with sensitivity and an exploration into the psyche of both as they manage the challenging situations that life throws their way.
I think my uncle (the window pane smasher) now settled with his third wife in Toronto would love this book.So would you.Unfortunately the widow who mourned her husband for 16 years is now cavorting with him up in the heavens .
What Readers say
Cracks in the mirror: Review of House of Discord by Sadiqa Peerbhoy – StoryFuntastika
Have you seen a crystal ball that reflects everything around it in multiple images? Sadiqa Peerbhoy’s House of Discord is exactly this multi-mirrored ball that she dangles adroitly in the middle of Mumbai city throwing up reflections of what one loves and regrets of that great Indian business centre.
As I made inroads into the Peerbhoy’s tale of the Deshmukh family with its multi-layered plot and subplots, Colleen McCollough’s The Thornbirds profiling the dysfunctional Cleary family came to mind. Peerbhoy’s character delineation is as smooth as silk draping the reader in its emotional rigours, suddenly catching him unawares on a roller coaster ride of impassioned highs and lows. Not just that, the author has the skill of evoking compassion for even the nastiest of her protagonists. Whether it is the autocratic matriarch or the spineless father, she deftly reveals a facet in them that incites the reader’s admiration. In that respect, I found her characters true to life…absolutely, naturally human.
I cannot say enough about her ingenious sketches of the house as well as the vibrancy of Mumbai, past and present. I could actually visualize the house in my mind’s eye…one of the many charming yet sadly dilapidated sprawling villas that dot the backyards of Mumbai’s modern high rises. In fact, the house itself is the chief protagonist of Peerbhoy’s tale. There is even a ghost residing in it lending a heart-breaking poignancy to its eventual, relentless demise. The backdrop of Mumbai or Bombay culture; an erstwhile unified patchwork of communities, religious tolerance, easygoing socializing, focus-only-on-business attitude being forcibly converted into a violent, insular, bigoted society is painted in bold colours on her canvas. The discordance in the lives lived within the Barrot House echoes the discordance outside it.
Command over language and its proficient use to full potential is another signature of this author. I must mention how much I enjoyed her brilliantly original metaphors and idioms. They were so pleasurable that I would go back and reread the sentences to fully relish their flavour.
Even-paced, the tale never flags and there always another exciting incident around the corner to keep the reader constantly on the edge. Still, I wish the English son who enters quite late into the family portrait had something more to contribute than just his presence.
The House of Discord shelters not just any family; its distinctive, idiosyncratic members wheedle into your heart, get under your skin and wield the power to live in your mind long after their tale ends. I hope I shall have the opportunity to enjoy many more enthralling epistles from the abundantly creative pen of author Sadiqa Peerbhoy in the near future.
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