Binging out the strong emotional connect with readers…

Meet Seema SonikAlimchand – author of biographies of bigwigs like Dara Singh, Rajinikant and most recently Rajendra Kumar. In each of these book, there is a strong emotional connect with people of all ages, and a contemporary flavour too – be it Rajinikant’s dynamism and spirituality, Dara Singh’s wrestling and discipline or Rajendra Kumar’s vulnerability and fruitful choices and investments.

Seema SonikAlimchand
Seema SonikAlimchand

Seema SonikAlimchand is the author, presenter and producer of the popular audio album 100 Years of Hindi Film Music. The daughter of noted music composer Master Sonik of the Sonik–Omi duo, Seema developed an interest in the Indian film industry from an early age. The author of The Warrior Within and Deedara aka Dara Singh, the biographies of superstars Rajinikant and Dara Singh, she has also worked as a flight attendant, a voice and language trainer, a voice professional and a presenter, and copy writer for programmes on television, radio and other media.

Her book Jubilee Kumar: The Life and Times of a Superstar (published by Hachette India), which beautifully traces Rajendra Kumar’s life and early struggles, and highlights the reasons for his success, his astute business sense and multi-talented personality.

Here, Seema talks about her love for films, writing biographies and more.

Early life…

“I have always been an avid reader and a movie buff. As I grew older, I fell in love with writing. It began while working with radio, when I was asked to improvise scripts and write radio spots, etc. Thereafter, I began scripting my own radio show 100 Years Of Hindi Film Music, which was produced by Saregama HMV and received a tremendous response,” tells Seema.

Inspiration as a writer…

“My mother – the original story teller, and my father – creating movies scores without being able to see, were my earliest inspirations. Then my love for history, the books I’d read, films and music I had grown up with, my life’s experiences and my travels conspired to get me to where I am today,” tells Seema.

“I have faith in myself, in the knowledge of the subject and the courage to put my creative endeavours out there. Confidence came later with practice of the art and its acceptance. Yet, I evolve daily as a writer,” she adds.

Journey as a writer…

“Writing began with radio spots, TVCs and scripts for AVs. During this time, I had promised myself that I would write the story of Indian film music and I did so. After I took this first independent step, pathways opened up and it became a full-fledged career. I wrote three books and earned the title of author,” tells Seema.

“I explore human relationships. The paranormal and esoteric too urge me to relay messages and hidden truths in story form. Also I want to continue to unravel the enigmas of stardom and reveal the energies that make us who we are. Another thing that fascinates me is that being a woman it was quite easy for me to slip into the character and mindset of three different men,” she adds.

Passion for biographies…

“I always had passion for films but passion for biographies is accidental I think or maybe not. I do feel now that these were meant to be. Some karmic cycle perhaps!” adds.

“After the release of the 100 years series, out of the blue, a publisher from Delhi called me up. The phenomena Rajinikant was inspiration enough and when I learnt of his spiritual side, I was hooked,” she tells.

Talking about Deedara aka Dara Singh, Seema shares, “As for Dara Singh, it began with my trip to Amritsar where I kept meeting people connected with the legendary wrestler. Also I knew his family. Aside from Dara Singh’s physical prowess it was his inner strength and discipline that was truly inspiring.“

On her book…

Jubilee Kumar: The Life and Times of a Superstar is her recent book. “Rajendra Kumar was one of the greats of Indian Cinema albeit less recognised than the other stars of his time. When his daughter Dimple invited me to write her father’s biography, I was thrilled. The story of his struggle, his determination to succeed in spite of the naysayers, his enigmatic lifestyle, his farsightedness, his emotiveness and his never say die attitude were inspiration enough. Jubilee Kumar is a must read for all,” tells Seema.

What hooked in biographies…

“The build-up of the ego and a special aura subsequently and the shattering of it later and how these greats dealt with it was fascinating to unravel. It was easier for Dara Singh. Due to his inner stoic, he sailed through many tough phases in life. Also the ordinariness of the stars was touching,” she replies.

On readership…

“I tell stories. Anyone who likes to read a good story is my reader. In my forthcoming works as well as each of the biographies released, there is a strong emotional connect with people of all ages, and a contemporary flavour too – be it Rajinikant’s dynamism and spirituality, Dara Singh’s wrestling and discipline or Rajendra Kumar’s vulnerability and fruitful choices and investments,” she says.

“For me, my intent which is almost always to reach out to the readers’ hearts and minds and to keep them engrossed, is of prime importance. I majored in History and Psychology. They help me today to tap into and put into story form not only the physical but also human behaviour and emotions,” she adds.

Hardest part of writing a book…

“Creative writing is S-L-O-W work that requires patience, discipline, and doggedness to finish. Keeping at it especially when there is no incentive and no deadline is tough and then there are the doubts and optimisms. Editing and fine tuning the manuscript is by far the most tiresome part but the end result is almost always worth the trouble,” tells Seema.

Experience with your publisher…

“When one of our best Literary Agents Kanishka Gupta got me a publishing deal with Hachette India, I was over the moon. That’s when I connected with Poulomi Chatterjee Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Hachette India. True to its stature Hachette didn’t compromise on the quality of writing, the paper used, the gorgeous book cover, the publicity and the marketing which is ongoing even in these tough times. I look forward to publishing more biographies and novels with Hachette,” she shares.

Writing advice to new authors…

“I believe each of us has a story to tell, and many want to write but only those that sit down diligently daily to do so will succeed. Work at completing your book and then relentlessly pitching it to publishers, making alterations and edits along the way. Once your book is out there, it has its own journey to follow,” she advises.

On promoting reading…

“As a nation, we are deeply rooted in our history that is brimming with stories. We like to read and reading should definitely be on the top of the list of the country’s agenda. Social media, publicity, book stores, lit events etc are effective, however, according to me word of mouth, sharing, reviewing, donating and gifting books is the best and easiest way. I believe our nation does its bit to promote reading but it should not pause even in crisis situations. Reading is a necessary pleasure. It is therapeutic especially now,” she says.

What next?

“My next book is complete and should release this monsoon. Monsoon Earth is a profoundly passionate, and thought-provoking, saga based on many true events. It plays out from 1946 to 2019 in a mysterious, fast-paced, although dramatic fashion that draws the reader into an esoteric realm of past lives, love, civil war and the partition of India. Readers can also expect two biographies in 2021/22,” shares Seema.

“To be and to create are synonyms.” – Osho. In this period of isolation, read a lot and write a lot. Create much. You gain immensely and lose nothing,” signs off Seema.

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