Twinkle Khanna, who made her Bollywood debut in 1995, gave up her chequered acting career after eight long years in the industry. Today, she is a successful interior designer and author of two bestselling books. She speaks to Bulbul Sharma about her recent professional endeavours.
Since she was born into a reputed Bollywood family, acting seemed a natural career choice for Tina Jatin Khanna, better known as Twinkle Khanna. The eldest daughter of superstar Rajesh Khanna and actress Dimple Kapadia, Twinkle, made her Bollywood debut in 1995 with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Barsaat, opposite Bobby Deol. The film performed well at the box office, and Twinkle won the “Best Debut Performance” Filmfare award for it. What followed was an eight-year stint with acting, with hit films like Jab Pyaar Kissi Se Hota Hai (1998) and Baadshah (1999) among others.
But her acting career was full of ups and downs. As 43-year-old former actress herself said in a public event in November 2017, after eight years in the industry, she had “spectacularly failed as an actor”. So she decided to put an end to her silver-screen career in 2001, after Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega. After calling it quits as an actress, Twinkle ventured into interior designing. She now co-owns The White Window, a chain of home décor stores. The former actress is also the co-founder of Grazing Goat Pictures, a production company that has co-produced films like Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, and Padman among others.
But this isn’t where Twinkle’s resume of professional achievements ends. A few years ago, the entrepreneur and interior designer found a new passion for writing. Her newspaper columns, with their sardonic take on everyday life, instantly struck a chord with her readership. With her penname, Mrs Funnybones, Twinkle slowly moved on from being a columnist to becoming an author.
Her first book, Mrs Funnybones: She’s Just Like You and a Lot Like Me, published by Penguin in 2015, sold over a lakh copies, making her India’s highest-selling female writer of the year. Her success story as an author continued with the launch of her second book, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, a collection of short stories published by Juggernaut Books in 2016.
A woman of many talents, Twinkle Khanna speaks to Guardian 20 about her understanding of design, and her writing prowess.
Q. From acting to interior design, and now to writing—how did this transition happen? When did you first think about writing a book and what inspired you to do so?
A. I just followed my heart. The editor of a newspaper, who is an old friend, asked me to write a column, since, according to her, I cracked lame jokes all the time and read voraciously. I decided to give it a shot, though the last time I had written anything was in my teens. One thing led to another and now I have almost a hundred newspaper columns under my belt and a book. And I wonder why I didn’t continue what I started in my teens.
Q.The moniker “Mrs Funnybones” is very interesting. How did you come up with that?
A. It was mere chance. I thought I was good at cracking a few lame jokes and my bones have always been odd as I have broken most of them. So one fine day I became Mrs Funnybones. It wasn’t thought out as such—it was more organic in a way.
Q. Fiction or non-fiction, what are you more comfortable writing?
A. My columns are partially fictional, so I would think that I am comfortable with both. The creative process, between my columns and my books, is not radically different, mentally. But surprisingly, I do have to spend more time on research when I write fiction, as sometimes it’s a very different world from the one I live in.
Q. What are your all-time favourite reads?
A. I readA Man called Ove [by Fredrik Backman] and wrote to the publishers wanting to adapt it for a movie, but unfortunately, Tom Hanks had already bought the rights, and it will be out in 2019. So I will have to start looking for something else now.
Q. You have always been very vocal about social issues and have been a committed champion of women’s empowerment. Do you think it is important for celebrities to come forward and root for a cause?
A. I think as people, we lend our support to the things we believe in, regardless of the celebrity status.
Q. You, like other celebrities, have often been trolled on social media platforms. How do you deal with that?
A. I don’t pay attention to trolls and that is the best way to deal with them.
Q. In addition to being an author, you have also been an interior designer for over a decade now. What led you to try your hand at interior designing, and subsequently collaborate with the stylist Gurlein Manchandafor your brand The White Window?
A. I started my career almost 14 years ago as a site supervisor under a renowned architect based in Mumbai. Two years in the industry and I launched my own store after sensing the need for it in India’s interior design market. A decade ago the market didn’t have any variety. Hence, The White Window was launched. Over the years I got an opportunity to work on residential, commercial, retail and hospitality design projects. I developed a distinct style of my own with an emphasis on texture which reflects in my work and in the collection at my store. I started The White Window in 2002, and at that point, our goal was to primarily produce things for all our interior design projects, as there was nothing really available anywhere else, unlike today.
Q. You have recently collaborated with Kohler, a global brand in kitchen and bath designs, for their campaign, “Colours and Finishes”. What got you interested in the campaign?
A. I am thrilled to work with Kohler on their 2018 campaign, “Colours and Finishes”. It is a rare opportunity that you get to work with a brand that you resonate with and would love to include in your everyday life. I really admire what Kohler has been able to create over the past 145 years, significantly expanding the options for bathroom spaces. This particular campaign by Kohler is meant to inspire people to let loose their creativity while designing their bath spaces.
Q. How according to you has the design industry changed in recent years? And what do you think are the current trends that are dominating this sector?
A. Globally, the introduction of colour to the bath space is a huge trend,and consumers and interior designers alike are taking to it in a huge way. Technology [in home décor] is also a new trend that has caught a lot of attention. The concept of smart homes is not limited to living rooms but has extended to bath spaces with mirrors and lavatories working to your command.
Q. You’ve endorsed many brands in your career. What do you look for when you decide to associate with a particular product or campaign?
A. While choosing a brand I look at the design and aesthetic sensibilities of the brand and decide if I can relate to it. Kohler as a brand, for instance, fits really well with that, be it their designs or their 145-year-old legacy.
Q. What are you currently busy with? Could you talk about your ongoing literary projects?
A. I am halfway through my third book, and as usual, I have plans to try yet another new thing. So ask me again in a few months.