Sunday, 11 March 2012

My Protagonist- Aria Suri

Let's start with a name. "What's in a name?" Shakespeare asked. My answer to his question is- "Everything". As a child, I was teased a lot about my name (Shreyonti Chakraborty can be a tongue twister) and with time, the teasing went away, but there is one thing that still persists- people who can't pronounce my name. Sometimes, my best friend gets it wrong. But at the same time, I love unique names, which is why I say a strict "No" to anybody who tries to call me by a nickname.

I wanted my protagonist to have a name which was striking, but still short and easy to pronounce. I didn't want it to sound too Indian as despite the story being set in India, it is not about India. I wanted her name to be kind of ambiguous, not giving away her nationality or ethnicity.

For some reason, I loved the name 'Arya'. The name 'Aryan' is a pretty common Indan boy's name. We sometimes have five Aryans in the same classroom (I am not making that up). I wanted a similar name for a girl. 'Aryan' means 'noble'. It is also the name of a race. I feminised it and made it 'Arya'. But that didn't satisfy my criteria for ambiguity. So, I changed the spelling and made it 'Aria'.

Aria Suri- the words just rolled off my tongue. It had a nice ring to it and I selected it for my protagonist.

Then, her appearance needed to be sketched for the reader. Let me get one thing straight- her appearance is not important. Aria isn't the kind of character who depends on being beautiful so she can have an interesting love triangle. But still, I wanted to give her a certain look to make her easy to visualize. So, I gave her medium-length, very wavy hair, but for the sake of simplicity f her character, she keeps it tied up with a scrunchie. She has big, expressive eyes and an olive skin tone. She is 5'6" (I like my characters to be as tall as me) and there is nothing striking about her weight or built. She is beautiful, but not in the most conventional way.

Then came the characterizations. All I know is that I like Nina Dobrev's 'Elena Gilbert/ Katerina Petrova' more than Kristen Stewart's 'Bella Swan'. Also, I like Anushka Sharma's 'Shruti Kakkar' (my pick for best young female protagonist in recent Hindi cinema) a lot more than the bimbettes that are in every Bollywood movie these days. I wanted Aria to be deep and complex, not just a cookie-cutter character with a personality that can be described in a few words.

Aria can be cold sometimes. She is indifferent to her peers, often considering herself above them. But that's because she has the life experience of a fifty-year-old. She takes her responsibilities seriously, but she still repents having to take them and does not try to be noble because she knows her brother's disappearance changed her life. She has a firm resolve and is determined to do what's best for her family. But she still takes a back seat when her parents try to be in control, knowing she is after all, just a young girl. She is brave, but more than that, she is practical. She's not trying to turn her life into a sob story. She also doesn't want to embark on an adventure to find her brother until she is forced to; she is not really a sucker for thrills.

When I started writing Aria, I said, "The hell with sweetness!" Aria is sweet, but on the inside. I understand it's important to make a character likeable, but I don't like to make their likeability obvious. Take Bella, for instance. She is shown to be such an innocent girl who is also a bad liar, but ultimately, she is pretty good at lying when it comes to hiding truths about vampires.

But still, if I had to describe Aria in four words, they'd be- sincere, courageous, smart and most importantly, real!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you've created a very real and memorable character. :)