New York Film Academy Alumna comes out with new book ‘Ambaji Express’

Book jacket for Archana Desai’s ’ book ‘Ambaji Express’. Photo:

Former member of the Indo American Arts Council and the New York Indian Film Festival, Archana Desai recently published her book AMBAJI EXPRESS which revolves around the age-old concept of ‘baadha’, a religious oath in the Gujarati culture.

The protagonist, Jagruti Dipakbhai Mehta, dearly called Jaggu is born in Ahmedabad, India but raised in the United States.

Currently pursuing her M.B.B.S., Jaggu has to fulfil a baadha her mother took on her behalf to successfully complete her degree. She has to walk miles to seek blessings from Ambaji Temple.

But Jaggu has even bigger problems on her hand. On one hand she is caught in a web of emotions trying to tell her mother about her American boyfriend, while on the other hand in a faraway land in India her childhood friend Maniyo, is deeply in love with her.

Ambaji Express will take the reader on a journey interspersed with emotions, cultures, and ideologies that bring out the perfect blend yet contrast between the east and west.

As a millennial seeing the cusp of transition in beliefs and perspectives, Desai realized the growing mindset shift between generations is a glaring reality, she tells News India Times in an email. “The so-called generation gap amplifies further owing to our socio-cultural and educational backgrounds,” said Desai.

“It almost sounds unrealistic but people in Gujarat do take all kinds of religious oaths which we call ‘badha’ to fulfill their wishes, It could be from getting good grades to finding a job or meeting a perfect partner. And they firmly believe that it is because of the ‘badha’ they have achieved their wishes.”

Desai, who currently lives in India says writing has always been a part of her. “As a kid I started with short stories then after getting a formal education from New York Film Academy, I started writing screenplays and have been working in the film industry ever since. When the world was hit by a pandemic and we were locked in our houses, I kept myself busy and finished writing a story I wanted to tell for two years,” she adds.

Desai has worked with prominent film-makers like Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar and Anuradha Tiwari for Ticket to Bollywood in NYC. She has also been an associate director on the Gujarati film, Chello Divas.

Desai has also served as a jury member of the Miami Independent Film Festival.





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