Aastha Atray Banan was crunching stories at Tehelka when she had an epiphany that any journalist at any point of time tends to have. “What am I doing with my life? Why am I even doing this?” In the grimness of the newsroom full of investigative journalists, Aastha began to feel as if she didn’t belong. That night at her house, she was busy surfing the net when she saw a Mills & Boons competition online. On a whim, she decided to take part in it and turned out to be an idea that changed her life. She became the 2nd winner of an Indian Mills & Boons romantic fiction contest for her debut novel His Monsoon Bride. The first book was followed by another called Games Girls Play but she was soon yearning for more.
“Finding what you are good at. That’s all you have to do. Discover yourself,” she says. Aastha has worked at Asian Age, Elle, Open, Tehelka, DNA and is now an assistant editor at Sunday Midday.
Aastha’s first video was an attempt to recreate Anna Kendrick’s song of Cups from the movie Pitch Perfect. “I was flattered when Vishal Dadlani commented on my video saying that it was not something he could have done. A lot of my friends told me I should not have tagged it as ‘Not A Singer’,” she recalls.
Aastha, an avid Instagrammer, posts her thoughts in the form of poems and has a rapidly increasing fan following. So much so that her followers ping her if she doesn’t upload a post by afternoon. This gave the author an added spur of inspiration as she began churning poems by the day.
A friend of hers asked her to try turning her poem Pretty Boy into a song and Aastha couldn’t help but wonder how it would go. A few hours after her video had gone online and she had sent the video to VH1, she got a confirmation telling her they liked her video and would like to run the lyrical version of it.
Listen to the song here:
It was only when she received a call from the True School of Music Bombay, asking her to record songs in their studio, did the whole thing click into place for Aastha. Her recent cover is another limerick turned into a song called Thank You, which released today.
“I always wanted to sing. But I felt that since I had chosen writing over music I thought I may not be able to pursue both careers in this lifetime. When Pretty Boy happened, I began to realise that it was a great time to be an artist in India. The best part of this country is that you can be anything you want to be and given the creative boom over the internet, your work will take a life of its own. All you have to do is be genuine with your work.”
Aastha’s latest video is a cover of Thank You which is sung by Dido resonates with a brilliant fusion of Congo and guitar complimenting her soulful voice.
Her cover Pretty Boy, came out in February this year, and her next original, Postcard Girl, is slated for an August release.
Even as her singing career is developing, Aastha hopes to continue her passion for writing:
“I believe the biggest challenge that journalists have is to find time to write apart from their jobs. It can become saturating, as it is you are writing daily. But the key is to keep at it and motivate yourself to write more. There is no good and bad writing. Bollywood is not bad or Chetan Bhagat is not bad. Why put yourself in a box? Why can’t we be open artists, open to change, open across genres, even open across fields of interest. Why do I have to be just a writer or just a singer, why can’t I be both? Do whatever the hell you want to do.”
Aastha is currently working on a book with designer Masaba Gupta called The Masaba Print, and her next romantic erotica is a book for Juggernaut, called All Tied Up.
Note: This story is an InUth Original