Her best introduction is that her novels have won 31 International Book Awards; she has been applauded for her remarkable fresh writing, time and again. Priya Kumar has established herself as one of the brightest authors of our country. ZEE5 has adapted her book to the stage and Priya is herself making a directorial debut with her book ëThe Callingí, which became an†international best seller.†In a freewheeling conversation with The Lifestyle Journalist Magazine, Priya talks about her writing, her directorial debut and Feminism
How did you decide to be a motivational speaker?
Often, the best things we chance upon in life are purely a product of great timing and accidental occurrences. Motivational speaking happened quite by accident. I used to teach French to my classmates, which then flourished into a full-fledged business, wherein I taught 1900 students in over 9 years. From there, I started doing workshops for college children based on my experiences with them, their parents and life that concerns a young adult. So, Motivational Speaking was a natural progression from teaching students.
What should be the source of inspiration or driving force for our young population?
I think the first source of inspiration or driving force should always be parents, followed closely by their teachers. A keen sense of respect for one’s parents takes you far in life. I don’t mean that if the parents don’t earn a good income, they will not earn the respect of their children, but the parents must exhibit and be examples of the values and principles one must follow in life to live a good and complete and happy life despite financial success or lack.
Who has inspired you the most in life and are your mentors?
My greatest inspiration has been my grandfather and my mother. They both are such amazing human beings and their presence in my life has been a blessing. As far as business goes, I closely follow in the footsteps of people I admire and have great respect for. Tarun Katial, the CEO of ZEE5, and Nigam Patel who was one of the founders of the fashion brand Provogue have spearheaded their organizations to unimaginable success and bountiful achievements. According to me, they are the Zen Executives, bringing a beautiful balance of spirituality, righteousness, professionalism, and profits in all their ventures.
What are the top three career advice you would give to youngsters?
I believe there is a lot of talk about what they can do and what potential they have. While it’s a great talk, they need to show results, and a resolve to deliver results should be the start of their talk. From wishing and wanting to deliver is the chasm of great effort, hard work and time. And they need to cross that bridge over and over again.
Any historical or public figure, alive or dead, whom you admire and why?
I have great admiration for Mother Teresa, that she went beyond herself to follow and honour a purpose for mankind. Mother Teresa stood for selflessness, humility, and kindness. Beethoven is my favourite, for he redefined music despite the fact that he had lost his hearing when he created the most soulful music. When you become your creation, that’s when you have touched the source of all creation.
What is an ideal education system according to you?
An ideal education system according to me is one which brings forward specialized education and also one that teaches life skills. I feel after the age of six, one should be routed into specialized fields and not the same generic curriculum. Each student could be moulded into a global citizen with a broadened outlook, and be instrumental in driving a change.
What is your definition of feminism and your take on women being stereotyped in our country?
Well, both genders are subjected to their fair share of struggles. Just because one is a man doesn’t mean he has it easy and vice versa for women. But to invest in oneself so as to raise the ranks based on one’s abilities and talent is primary. As women, we need to move out of our own closed mind-sets and take a stand and speak up. The first barrier is in our own attitudes about life and living.
Your favourite writers are…
Paulo Coelho, Dan Brown, Neale Donald Walsch.
From where do you get your inspiration to write?
I have too many stories buzzing in my head and writing is a relief. Translating my thoughts into words is a gratifying feeling. I have my own world of solitude, positivity, and wellness and I am always in the creative zone. I love creating alternate worlds, living alternate lives through characters that I am curious about. As an author, I’ve lived many lifetimes, travelled to interesting places and fostered bonds for life, through the characters of my books.
Your novel ‘I will go with you: The Flight of a Lifetime’ has been recently adapted to a web series ‘The Final Call’. Tell us something about it.
‘I Will Go With You’ is a very special book. It has won two international awards. The story holds a spiritual undercurrent while preserving the identity of a thriller. The book was taken up by ZEE5 and in 6 months of signing the contract, the web series ‘The Final Call’ was out. This one was by far the most expensive web series made my ZEE5. The shoot happened in London on the same aviation set as the film Sully. We did the shoot in Kashmir, in Thailand and Andaman where the crash scenes happened, in Mumbai, in Chandigarh, Kochi.
You have won 13 international awards and several national recognition for your work. How does it feel and what is your vision?
I have won 31 International Book Awards for my writing. That recognition is an honour and a big responsibility to continue the work. My 9th book ‘The Wise Man Said’, which is a collection of 12 short soulful stories, is also taken up by ZEE5 to make into a web series. That book alone has won 10 International Book Awards. And by the way, I am the only Indian author to have bagged 31 international book awards. My vision is to write more books and screenplays and also direct my own films and series. That is something that I will do with my next book ‘The Calling’, which became an international bestseller. That one will be my directorial debut and I am already working on the screenplay for that.