Source : The Hindu
The book Elixir explores an individual’s inner life vis-a-vis a materialistic society
Sinjini Sengupta’s novel Elixir revolves around the protagonist Manisha, who is successful and seems to have the perfect marriage.
However, a consumerist society and the drudgery of office life robs her of happiness. Her life changes forever one day, though, when she goes to a café and ends up drinking elixir that transports her to a parallel existence. Sinjini earlier wrote Elixir as a screenplay, which was made into a short film by Anirban Guha. It was screened at the 69th Cannes Film Festival and won several international awards.
There are autobiographical elements in Elixir, says Sinjini. “The idea for the book struck me when I was returning home from office one day. I used to leave early in the morning and reach home by 11 at night. I wondered ‘is this all there is to life? or is there something more?’ I was also diagnosed with clinical depression a few years ago. After the film was screened, a gentleman walked up to me and said this story belongs to a novel, and I was sent a book contract.”
Sinjini, who is an actuary by profession, a columnist and a Tedx speaker, did not want to write just another book for the sake of being an acclaimed author. “There are way too many books in the market. I decided to write a book only when I had a good idea. I wanted to write something of worth. And so I had high standards for myself.”
The novel is written in a lyrical style and goes deep into the psyche of the protagonist. “Manisha feels like a manufacturing machine. When she was unhappy nobody thought about what she wanted. The moment she found a solution to her problems, people began having a problem with that.” The book also explores hikikomori, a phenomenon in Japan, where people, especially young adults, become recluses and avoid social contact by shutting themselves away from society for a prolonged period of time, a minimum of six months that stretches for years.
“The idea for hikikomori came to me from a film I watched on it. I also read up a lot about dreams, and wondered how we really don’t know where our minds go to when we dream.”
The other characters, Manisha’s husband Amit and Manisha’s father are well-etched out characters. “Amit is a conventional man, who is driven to be successful, but who is emotionally unavailable. Writing the character of Manisha’s father, on the other hand, brought out a lot of empathy within me,” Sinjini concludes.
Elixir, therefore, is a relatable novel especially in these times of urban loneliness.