[TechSparks 2020] Rib-ticklingly funny, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s new book will make you laugh, cry and feel inspired
Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s new book, The 12 Commandments of a Woman features a blurb by Shah Rukh Khan on its cover. He writes, “I’m not sure if I should be happy or offended that Tahira’s favourite make-out spot was in the cinema watching my movies.”
At the 11th edition of YourStory's flagship tech-entrepreneurship summit TechSparks 2020, when asked about the badshah’s reaction to the book, Tahira laughs, her inherent sense of humour seeping into the conversation as it is in her frank and outrageously funny book. “We watched Shah Rukh’s Ashoka 12 times in the theatre that was right opposite my college. The first time, we watched the film from the beginning to the end. The next 11 times, we were, ahem, busy, with other things, like exchanging Chemistry notes.”
This and other funny anecdotes form the premise of this rib-tickling book to be published today. A filmmaker and screenwriter, Tahira has been vocal about several issues, many of which have found their way into the book in many humorous takes.
Did she always have a funny bone? Tahira says that growing up, she did rely on a sense of humour.
“I have been a goofball in every group I have been in. My father has an amazing sense of humour and I believe I inherited mine from him. I underwent all that I have written in the book. I guess, being a goofball leads to humour in retrospect,” she quips.
A goofball in real life
After seeing her posts on social media, Chiki Sarkar of Juggernaut got in touch with Tahira and asked if they could collaborate. And the rest, as they say, was the beginning of sharing of many “goofball” ideas for an interestingly funny book.
“For the first chapter, I wrote all about being a gawky teenager worried about being a late bloomer, the last in her class to get her period, and how she thought she’d never be able to wear a bra. Chiki was in splits and asked me whether I had more such anecdotes to share. I told her my life was full of them and then I started to write,” Tahira says.
Quirky incidents and idiosyncrasies from different periods of her life found their way into the text and soon the book started rolling. “There are stories about women that need to be told. Whatever is written is so little that it becomes a stereotype. We could be much more – funny, entertaining and absolutely hilarious,” she adds.
An honest space
Through her brand of humour, Tahira delves into different aspects like body positivity, small-town life, mental health, parenting, and much more. Was it a conscious strategy to include these?
She says she has written the book “from an extremely honest space, about things that mattered from that space and time. I realise these are issues that have troubled me and they became humorous”.
Asked to pick the one among 12 commandments she relates to the most, Tahira says that the proposition is akin to having to choose your favourite child. “The fact that these commandments have made it to the book talks about the intensity and impact they have had on my life at that point.”
As a writer and celebrity in her own right, she also agrees it’s imperative to open up on several issues and also find solidarity in sisterhood. She believes no one can live in isolation and if we do, the unhappiness is going to hit us hard someday. When other women give you a pat on the back and have some good things to say about you, it gives you more courage,” she says.
Tahira Kashyap, author of 'The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman' speaks at TechSparks 2020
A woman has many layers
In the same vein, Tahira says it’s heartening to see several women filmmakers making a mark in the Hindi film industry. As a filmmaker and screenwriter herself, she admits she gravitates towards writing more about women and their world. “A woman has so many layers, there are so many things to write about so it’s easy to gravitate toward them,” she explains.
Her filmstar husband Ayushmann Khurrana recently told a publication jokingly that he hoped that both sets of parents didn’t read the book.
Children teach you life lessons
While it’s not a tell-all book in the sense of the term, it’s indeed intensely personal. I asked Tahira whether her parents eventually got around to reading it.
“My association with my mother has come a long way. While growing up, I had a huge grudge against her because she was a working parent and the kind of things I demanded from her, I did not from my father. Looking back, I ask myself – what was I thinking? That said, my mother had a good laugh after reading the book. My father has not gone beyond the second chapter,” she says.
Another aspect that Tahira throws light on is parenting and how seriously she took it, with all the discipline, conformity, and worrying about being the perfect mommy. “Children teach you how unpredictable they can be. I don’t know how this species operates because they are out there to prove you wrong all the time,” she says with a laugh.
The one aspect that Tahira has not taken seriously though is the stereotypes surrounding a star wife.
She says she doesn’t know the meaning of a “star wife” and what roles and responsibilities it entails. “I am enjoying the space I am in and can’t be a label,” she says.
However, one emotion that resonates throughout the book is acceptance – of beliefs, the curveballs life has thrown at her, and an optimism that rings true in every sentence.
“My tryst with cancer has taught me not to take life seriously and cherish the moments I have with my loved ones,” she shares.
The bonus 13th commandment puts it very succinctly, “Stressed your cup is half-empty not full? Remember you always need to stay grateful.”
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.