In the world of entertainment and literature, few figures manage to captivate the imagination as effectively as Twinkle Khanna. A celebrated author, a successful entrepreneur, and a talented interior designer, she is a true Renaissance woman, seamlessly navigating diverse paths with unwavering charm and grace. In this exclusive interview, we delve into Khanna’s latest book, her inspirations, her approach to writing, and the art of managing a multifaceted career.
We start our conversation with Khanna’s latest book, Welcome to Paradise. The book is a collection of short stories which will take you on a roller coaster ride. The characters and plots are inspired by various sources and people around her. Khanna humorously likens herself to a literary vampire, “We writers will suck your ideas and put you in our books and make you immortal, and you might not even recognise yourself in our work.” She adds, “I don’t create characters based on specific individuals but rather combine traits and anecdotes from diverse people. For instance, one story was inspired by a friend’s memory of her mother’s advice on body image, which stayed with me. She felt she was not what the society deems attractive. It influenced a character who is self-conscious about her boobs, or should I say lack of it. My stories are a mix of countless influences.” She confesses to being an excellent eavesdropper. “I take extensive notes from real-life dialogue and experiences, often scribbling them down on my phone.” These notes become valuable resources for her writing, helping to infuse authenticity into her characters and narratives. The title itself is quite intriguing. Khanna explains, “The title is subversive, hinting that everything that appears idyllic on the surface may have a different reality underneath. Life isn’t always a paradise; what we consider a happy ending depends on where we conclude a story.” She continues, “In these stories, I aim to explore entire lifetimes, delving into the concept of happy endings and the absence of a true paradise. Life is full of ups and downs, and that’s the crux of the book.”
A day in a life of…
Khanna is currently dividing her time between India and London. “When I’m here, I start the day early, dedicating the morning to writing and handling other tasks.” To be a professional writer, discipline and consistency are essential. She emphasises the need to sit down and write, whether the elusive muse is present. She says, “I’ve learned that waiting for inspiration won’t cut it. Many successful writers, like Seinfeld and Ursula Le Guin, establish routines to minimise distractions and focus on their work by locking themselves up in a room. I’ve developed my method for writing, employing techniques such as creating a skeleton for my columns, conducting thorough research, and finally, putting pen to paper.” Notably, she’s learned not to push her writing past 1 pm as her creativity dwindles. She then switches to other work, such as managing her team and business.
In London, her schedule revolves around academic pursuits, as she recently completed a master’s degree. “My days are a whirlwind of university assignments, communication with my team in India, and, of course, writing. My busy schedule has taught me to adapt to different roles throughout the day.”
The academic journey
During the pandemic, Khanna took the opportunity to re-evaluate her interests. She initially started with two online courses at Oxford, followed by a master’s degree at Goldsmiths. This academic journey allowed her to explore new techniques and strategies for writing, particularly in the realm of nonlinear narrative structures. She says, “You can’t teach someone to write or shape their perspective of the world, which is what makes one’s writing unique. But there are certain techniques that I was not aware of despite having a career in writing.” The knowledge and experiences gained during her studies significantly influenced her writing, including the stories within Welcome to Paradise. “It was an interesting journey, and I learned so much. Going back to university made me feel like I was 20 again, which is a great feeling when you’re almost 50,” says Khanna.
As an individual who wears many hats—author, producer, entrepreneur, actor—it’s essential to manage these diverse interests effectively. How does she do it? “Juggling multiple roles means that some activities must take a backseat at times. For instance, during my master’s studies, I reduced my column writing to focus on my academic work. Balancing these roles is not about doing everything simultaneously but rather about identifying what is most important at any given moment.”
When asked which role she enjoys the most, Khanna reflects on the transformative power of each one. However, during the pandemic, a profound realisation emerged—she is fundamentally a writer. “Writing is how I make sense of the world, and I couldn’t process emotions and events without it. So, at this point, I would identify as a writer. Who knows what the future holds? In five years, I might find my best role as a health minister or something entirely different,” concludes Khanna.
ELLE India Editor: Ainee Nizami Ahmedi, Photographer: Taras Taraporvala, Jr. Fashion Editor: Shaeroy Chinoy (styling), Asst. Art Director: Sanjana Suvarna, Words: Samreen Samad, Hair & Makeup: Namrata Soni, Bookings Editor: Aliza Fatma, Assisted by: Komal Shetty, Siyaa Mannuja (styling); Raaina Jain (bookings), Production: Cut Loose Productions, Artist’s Reputation Management: Tandem Commuication