Acclaimed filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has added yet another feather to her cap, penning her debut novel Mapping Love, a work of fiction set in the breathtaking jungles of India. An enthralling story with intertwining tales that are sure to tug at your heartstrings, Mapping Love hit bookstores on August 1st 2021, and the first response the book has been overwhelmingly positive. An artist, writer, and filmmaker, Ashwiny's films Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Panga to name a few have been received well by audiences in the past, appriciated as entertaining as well as thought-provoking conversation starters, and her debut novel seems to be set to continue on the part of the illustrious legacy of her body of work.
As we sit down to chat with Ashwiny, she has a lot going on. Her book just came out, and she is set to make her debut in the digital space with her upcoming web-series Faadu. In the works, as well, is a biological drama based on the lives of Infosys founder Narayna Murthy and his wife Sudha. Cosmo India catches up with Ashwiny about films, writing, the meaning of love and her foray into the litrally world.
Cosmo India: Tell us about your debut novel Mapping Love?
Ashwiny: "I wanted to understand this whole idea of love, by mapping this feeling through the different characters in my story. It’s an introspective tale, forgiving and filled with a lot of mystery, tying several knots and finally opening them in the end. It reveals the fact that life can be considered half-empty or half-full, depending on the way you look at it."
Cosmo India: What inspired this work of fiction? Any real-life incidents?
Ashwiny: "As a storyteller, I am brewing with ideas all the time. Sometimes, my ideas might take a different shape while writing. Mapping Love was written with an intention to experience the joy of writing, for each word to bring life to a metaphorical world in the readers mind. The independent mind of Oorja (one of the main protagonists), her relationship with the forest, the lessons she learns from nature, the inward-looking philosophical bent of her questions and her self-answering thoughts all relate to me."
Cosmo India: What does love mean to you?
Ashwiny: "Love means letting go, it means forgiveness. If we keep demanding a perfect expectation of love, our hearts will always be fearfull. Love means mapping your own story— with others and with yourself."
Cosmo India:Tell us your favourite love story?
Ashwiny: "Love for me is of all kinds, not necessarily between two individuals. If we are talking about a movie or a book, there are so many in Tamil, Hindi and English. I find it difficult to choose one!"
Cosmo India: Which are the kind of stories that make an impact on you and excite you?
Ashwiny: "Stories that challenge and surprise the mind of a reader or viewer excite me. Stories that make me relearn and engage in the art of researching and learning a lot more about the psychology of characters excite me. Stories that make me nervous and make me want to do better excite me. Stories that I choose, that don’t make me repeat my last style of work, that evoke a sense of excitement and that makes me forget my last work. Stories that make me want to restart again with no reference point."
Cosmo India: From critical director and screenwriter to novelist, was this new feather in your cap a natural progression?
Ashwiny: "Each aspect of my journey in telling stories begins with an open mind to learn and enjoy the process, rather than worry about the destination. To me its like climbing the mountain. I know I am going to see a beautiful landscape at the end. But if I think about the view, I won’t enjoy the path I am walking, the trails up the mountain, of discovering all kinds of surprises and learning at each turn. I like challenging myself and self-discovering the process of each medium."
Cosmo India: Name three authors or books that have made an impact on you in your life.
Ashwiny: "1. Murakami: For his magical realism and the way he makes fictional characters philosophical (including a cat) and a important part of your life while reading his books.
2. Sudha Murthy: For maaking reading simple with stories whose experiances speak to both children and adults.
3. Amitav Ghosh: For rooting for the cause of regaining the environment and consistantly weaving this as a part of his narrative, while still making it engaging enough for me to re-read any of his books. This for me is an art unto itself."
Cosmo India: What's are you looking forward to next, in films and literature?
Ashwiny: " I am looking forward to reading many books by Indian authors that I have on my list, both fiction and non-fiction, There are many web series that I would also like to see. I am eagerly awaiting the start of my debut web series Faadu."
Photo Credit: Chandrahas Prabhu
Green Kaftan: Chord
Ochre Yellow Outfit: Crow
Earrings: Lune Shop
Hair and Makeup: Mukta Dubey