Please tell us about yourself

When filmmaker Imtiaz Ali was shooting his film, Rockstar, in Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College in 2011, Divya Johry was just another Economics (Hons) student who didn’t bother to try and get a glimpse of the film cast and crew. A couple of years down the line, working for a multinational accounting firm and preparing for MBA, the 27-year-old happened to watch the film.

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Johry, who has penned her debut novel, The Longest Ride on the Kincham Express, says, “The intrigue for screenplay writing began when I saw Rockstar. My family and I are movie fanatics. My sister and I began discussing things like how its scenes unfold, who must have written them, and what must it have taken to write them. And then, there was no looking back.”

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?

Johry took a refund for her MBA fee to pursue Masters in Scriptwriting from Bournemouth University, UK. As she neared the completion of her master’s degree, her teacher urged her to explore novel-writing. The Longest Ride is a result of her love for train journeys. “They open your mind, your soul. Travel, for me, is like finding those parts of you that you didn’t know existed. You can be a social person, but travelling alone does something to you. Being in St. Stephen’s and living in the UK [surrounded by strangers], I understood how people with different viewpoints can all be right at the same time. When I blended these two, a train journey of five strangers came to my mind. That was the beginning of the story,” says the author, who is now based in Mumbai.

Tell us about your book

The passengers in the book are all going somewhere, but have a mission in hand, too. “This story isn’t just about accomplishing the mission, but about how you get there. That’s the beauty of it. At every junction, they experience something new — a person, or a group of people or location. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination,” says Johry, who highlights the element of dilemma in her story. Just like Imtiaz Ali’s characters? “Absolutely, Imtiaz is my favourite, and I really connect with his stories. Not just Rockstar, all his films have that element. Even if the stories are different, it all boils down to what that person at that stage does: Have the heart to listen to his or her heart, or succumb to circumstances?” she says.