June 23, 2021
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Tisca Chopra On Her Book ‘What’s Up With Me’ And OTT Censorship

‘I thought a book demystifying menstruation and talking about the simple biology of it would go a long way in making young impressionable girls surer of their bodies,’ says Tisca Chopra.

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Tisca Chopra On Her Book ‘What’s Up With Me’ And OTT Censorship
Tisca Chopra On Her Book ‘What’s Up With Me’ And OTT Censorship

Actor, author and filmmaker Tisca Chopra is fondly known for her memorable performance as the loveable mother from ‘Taare Zameen Par’. A passionate storyteller and performer, Tisca’s every endeavour has been loved and awarded. In a candid conversation with Outlook, Tisca mentions why she felt it was important to come up with a book based on puberty, pimples, period, people and more. She also talks about why she is entirely against censorship on the OTT platforms. The Excerpts:

On your new book ‘What’s Up With Me’…

What’s Up With Me? is a friendly and empathetic guide for young girls (and their parents) about growing up and issues like puberty, periods and emotions. Kids are growing up faster than ever before, with multiple points of exposure and information being thrown at them. And often this defining phase of their lives, when some of the most intense biological changes are taking over every aspect of their lives - physical, emotional, social- is confusing and crazy. But you know what, it isn’t that big a deal, it's natural and happens to everyone (girls &and boys). You just need to know what’s coming your way. And that is the main idea and message of this book.

‘What’s Up With Me?’ is precisely that sort of a book, with practical suggestions for coping with the rollercoaster that growing up is. The book is my attempt at a friendly, sensible and relatable guide on everything from your changing body to pimples and periods, health and hygiene to safety and self-worth, relationships and boys to emotions, and much, much more.

Who all helped you in the process of writing this book?

Contributors like Gynaecologist Dr Mala Arora and psychologist Malvika Varma have also chipped in to help provide the medical and biologically relevant information. Coupled with illustrations by Akanksha Agnihotri, and various other tips and tools, the book aims to equip young girls and empower them.

What made you come up with this story on puberty, periods, pimples, people and more?

We keep talking about a change in the gender skew but how exactly do we achieve this? Railing against the imbalance and making a noise on social media is just venting. I thought a book demystifying menstruation and talking about the simple biology of it would go a long way in making young impressionable girls surer of their bodies. As a consequence, their emotions about femininity and their place in the universe as women of tomorrow would be surer. I have tried my best at every opportunity to add a few words about how girls are in no way less than men, just different and strong in many other ways than just the physical. I have tried to pour steel into their young spines, so none of the readers feels they are anything other than total power centres into themselves.

The target audience for your book…

Nine to 14 years. Because it’s is the toughest time for any child. Huge changes in the body and a hormone-driven storm of emotions happen during this period. Parents also find it difficult to deal with the tantrums and erratic behaviours of their kids. So, the book gets into the science of what exactly is happening to the body and mind. It also navigates the tough terrain of boys, sexuality, mood swings and such. But most important to me is the opportunity to be able to tell young girls just how full of the promise they are and how not to feel small or insecure, but to revel in the feminine and its vast strength.

Any other plans for writing some other books?

When something worth writing about comes along why not? But writing scripts is killing two birds with a single stone - I can write and then act, so that’s what I am focusing on right now

Your future projects…

A feature film I am directing, at the end of the year. And shooting a web series in Rajasthan at the moment. Also producing a web series after I finish this web series.

Censorship on OTT…

I am entirely against censorship. It goes against my basic grain - a mature society need not be told what to do. Certification is the way ahead. Strict guidelines of certification should be put in place. Everyone is happy then. But to tell stories with millions of dos and don’ts is super annoying.

OTT the future of entertainment...

It is the future, or a big part of it anyway! The pandemic hastened the dominance of the web as the chief agent of entertainment. Big experience films will of course stay on as the friends and family outing mainstay. But viewing has already shifted to personal screens where the choice of time and content stays with the individual. That freedom can’t be taken away once it’s been tasted. Maybe we will be able to project films or series onto blank walls from our phones and have a big-screen experience anywhere we see a large plain surface. That looks like the future to me.

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