The right word
“As soon as I was done with college in America, I jumped on a plane and came straight back to India. India is home for me. I haven’t felt like I belong anywhere else.
The daughter of a diplomat, Arni grew up in India, Indonesia, Italy, Pakistan and Thailand. She was often the new kid in school and never felt like she quite fit in. So she did what most introverted children do. She read. And what was most accessible to her in the libraries at the time, were Indian epics.
THE FIRST BOOK The Mahabharata—a Child’s View, Arni’s first book was published when she was only 12 years old. “It started out as a journal of sorts, the kind that children keep, with pictures,” explains Samhita. “It was almost therapeutic for me.” Since then, the book has been translated into Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Greek. It has also won the Best Published Book Award in 2004 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
THE BACKGROUND In 2000, she won a scholarship to study at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy. When she graduated in 2002, she left for the United States where she enrolled for a degree in film studies and religion at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
NEXT She’s currently working with filmmaker Sabiha Sumar on her next feature film and her latest novel is under production, expecting a release early next year. Titled Searching for Sita, Arni calls it a ‘speculative, fiction, feminist thriller,’ about Sita, based on the Ramayana.
“Her work is grounded solidly and reflects someone who knows her material inside out. It also has a lightness and exuberance to it which is a very powerful combination.” ANITA ROY, SENIOR EDITOR, ZUBAAN