Ever since she wrote ‘Boots Belts Berets’ and ‘On the Double’, author Tanushree Podder has been asked why she had not written about the women who pass out from OTA (Officers Training Academy).
After seeing Captain Tania Shergill leading a contingent in the Republic Day Parade, she decided that it was time to write the book. The result was ‘The Girls in Green’ (Bloomsbury) that hit the stands recently. “I got down to the research, and the book was ready a year later,” Podder tells IANS.
Married to an Army officer, this is her fourth book on the Army — ‘Boots Belts Berets’, ‘On the Double’, ‘No Margin for Error’ besides the latest one. While three of the books are based in training establishments, ‘No Margin for Error’ is set against the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
“There’s no doubt that I find the forces fascinating. The sincerity, dedication and the selfless service with which soldiers serve the country during all kinds of crises and emergencies is an eye opener. Not just defending the borders, but also their role during natural calamities and pandemics,” she says.
Even as ‘The Girls in Green’ gets set to being adapted into a web series, she says, “Every author expects the production house to be true to the story, and so do I. Right casting is very important, and I hope the actors will do justice to their roles.”
Talk to her about how the judiciary had to push the Army for permanent commission of women officers, and Podder says that the Army is a conservative and male dominated organisation which demonstrated much resistance against the grant of permanent commission to women. “I have spoken to several army officers about their reasons for opposing the step, and noted their reservation. Right from physical, cultural, and social to emotional factors, they offered many arguments against the idea.”
The author, who believes in researching extensively for her books — visiting training academies, speaking to cadets, instructors, has also done extensive travel writing. “Travelling had all to do with my travel writing. Both my husband and I are inveterate travellers, as was my father. Apart from the trips undertaken for the love of travelling, we moved a lot owing to my husband’s frequent postings.”
For someone who believes in taking a break from the genre in which she was last published, Podder next may not be in the military genre. “In fact, I don’t know which genre I will explore next. There are a couple of unfinished manuscripts in my laptop, to which I intend giving priority before embarking on a new project. These unfinished projects belong to different genres, and I am not sure which one of them I would take on next.”
(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at email@example.com)