Paromita Vohra | The Spool

There are so many different hats that you wear, you’re writing films, you’re writing columns, you’re the chief proponent of conversations of desire and it doesn’t seem to be driven by fame or money so what is it that is driving you to do all of this?

It’s not driven by money but it’s certainly driven by love. The thing is I don’t see myself as wearing many hats; it’s not different professions for me. It’s all born out of an interest in the same set of themes and wanting to talk about different aspects of certain things in the world. So much of what I am interested in is actually the implicit world, not the explicit world of proof, but the implicit world of senses and how we understand the world through what we can feel underneath the words. Some things work better in film, some in writing. For me it’s very important to express, I have to make something everyday and I use whatever form is available to me. Art is a conversation of what you sense is happening around you. It is also actually at a very basic level a desire to make some sense of life. I like the idea of engaging with the other a lot and that is actually the nature of my work. I would say that love and desire are the central metaphors of my work; you know they are really not the topical subject matter of my work.

Talking about dating, the urban reluctance and trepidation of love, should I put myself out there or is this socially acceptable, should I just have a Whatsapp relationship with somebody I’ve met, like I’ve spoken to him on Tinder but never met. Any advise for 30-40 year olds who are out there looking for love but are reluctant to swipe right?

Yaar, humein dekh lijiye… biggest serial disaster of love. But I think that it’s difficult right, difficult to fall in love? And I use the phrase fall in love advisedly because, of the separation that’s been made. What you are supposed to be experiencing through dating apps is a numerical prowess of how many people you can match with.

I believe that there are a very small section of social animals (like me) who are like romantic experimenters and always want to feel romance over and over again. So we are early to try new dating platforms and there are many other people like us there. So we often find each other and it’s a bit thrilling and it’s a bit fun and you rediscover romance, but very soon it becomes a more generalized and commoditised space. I don’t know exactly how that happens but there is a way in which it becomes a non-risk taking space, and so it becomes a combative and violent space. Which is to say it’s people trying to score that means I should not be the one who’s hurt, I should not be the one who’s rejected, I should reject before I am rejected.

It becomes a video game of rejecting of negging before you can be negged.

In fact I think my last to last column was about romantic procrastination. I was talking to a friend of mine and he said, and there are all these people who are like not now, but not never. There are 60 matches sittin’ in this inbox out of which I have spoken to 4 people and 1 person asks me are you a cat person or a dog person, I simply became quiet, I don’t want to answer that question, I’m 48 years old and I don’t want to say I don’t know which I am, maybe I’m a parrot person, I really don’t know. I don’t want pets, I’m barely keeping my flowers alive here.

So basically my policy is, I don’t think it works any more (for die-hard romantics). As advice: If you match with somebody and if you keep talking to them for 3 or 4 days on the app you should move to whatsapp and after 3 or 4 days if you are still able to have a conversation you should meet them. You should meet people before the expectations get very high and you start fantasizing and hating yourself for fantasizing.

You have a platform that talks about love, sex, desire etc in that space and that traditionally is a pretty person domain, fashion bloggers, film stars, beauty bloggers talk about it. You are what a lot of people will call not a conventionally pretty person. So have you ever felt like an outsider in this space, that is so dominated by pretty people?

I think that is a really good and important question and it’s kind of a sustained question of my life, not only because of not being conventionally good looking, but also not being a typical kind of woman in some sense. You do ask yourself that who’s going to believe you. If I talk about men behaving badly with me, people will be like, ‘yea yea that fat chick, obviously men behave badly with her’. What you find is, your real battle is not in other people finding you attractive but in you believing that they can find you attractive. So those struggles are ongoing struggles and I think they do enter when you write your own stuff, I write a lot of biographical stuff about this part of my life. But the thing is I don’t think it has anything to do about you being pretty or not. I think that I understand people well, I also think I understand the beauty of life well.

I agree with you I always feel ambivalent about am I authorized to talk about these things because I am not a pretty girl but all these things are meaningful to me so I want to talk about them and when you do it you realize you are not alone.

That’s really rooted in my belief in feminism that it has got very little to do with good looks and not good looks. What is feminism? It is the extrapolating from your own experience to understand other things in the world – only as a vehicle, way to frame question, not a way to assert answers or absolute knowledge. In many ways love and desire are also that – a way to use your feelings to engage with and understand another. At a personal level I feel like, I want to make beautiful things because I want to experience myself as beautiful because I have rarely done that. So in a way making things from inside which are beautiful tells you that maybe I am beautiful too. I don’t know. So that is my personal need that I answer through making art. But well caught.

The Spool camp was a little divided in opinion about Shah Rukh Khan, so we questioned Paromita and got schooled! Watch!


Five songs that you should have sex to

Aiyo, okay I’ll try, but that’s only for today

  1. Baby I’m A Fool by Mellody Gardot
  2. Caramel by Suzanne Vega
  3. Abhi Na Jao Chod Ke
  4. Tumhe Dillagi Bhul Jaani Padegi by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  5. Just Like A Woman by Bob Dylan

What does your Tinder bio say?

It says, I don’t remember, I think it says filmmaker writer, I’ll have to check,

Filmmaker writer, no agendas, appreciates kindness and courtesy

One sex tip for women in India

Find your clitoris early and never let it go.

And one for men

Find her clitoris early and never let it go, hahahaha, for straight men. Learn to kiss well.

What’s the one question you get asked the most about sex?

A lot of questions about female pleasure, from men and women. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty and ignorance on part of the men and a lot of curiosity on the part of women so there are many question about that. I think outside of AOI just a lot of concern about being seen as a slut. What’s the balance where you are sexually desirable but not too slutty, is a deep concern of women, which I find difficult to answer.

Apart from Shah Rukh name the top three men on your most desirable list

I’m like quite committed to Shah Rukh khan I must say.

I think George Clooney is hot, Siddharth Malhotra is hot

I don’t think I think about men that much, I am drawing a blank here, I think that’s about it. I am also saying this because you are asking me. I think like many people I respond more to work individually and I find it very sexy for some time.

What is the sexiest piece of literature that you have read?

I love Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar, I find it very very sexy. Lots of poetry is very sexy actually, poetry of E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson and almost most of ancient erotic Indian poetry I find it very very sexy.

Three unsexy foods

Baigan, which I hate

Mashed potatoes

Dhokla, I get very depressed when people get dhokla

And you know what’s really unsexy, like it’s a make or break for me, it’s ordering biryani at a party. Or maybe veg manchurian trumps it. You can order American chopsuey, it’s my guilty pleasure.