Pritisha Borthakur, a journalist, an author, and an award-winning media campaign strategist

Pritisha Borthakur

An exclusive interview with Pritisha Borthakur – an Independent journalist and brand strategist

Delhi-based Pritisha Borthakur is a journalist, an author, and an award-winning media campaign strategist. 

Borthakur has over the years worked with numerous reputable advertising, communications, and media publishing houses, both nationally and internationally.

She has to her credit three poetry books — ‘Winged Words’ (English), a dash of Gay for any day (English – on LGBTQIA), and ‘Anubhav’ (Assamese).

In 2021, Borthakur made her debut as a children’s book author with the title – Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories (currently available on Amazon India, Amazon Worldwide and Flipkart).

The book celebrates family diversity and aims to teach children that every family is beautiful; no matter the race, the size, or the gender. 

Can you tell us about your background childhood, education, profession, and passion?

Pritisha Borthakur: I’m a graduate in English and hold a master’s degree in journalism. I kickstarted my career as a Features Writer with a UK-based lifestyle magazine called Expressions.

Later I went on to work with reputed publications like “Times of India”, “Times Internet”, “The Pioneer”, “Beyond the Boundaries” (Hong Kong-based magazine), Mindworks Media (Gulf News) and more in various capacities.

Currently, I work as an independent content and strategy consultant; I am empanelled with several national and international communications and media agencies in India, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

While I primarily cater to healthcare, education, tech, agriculture, and retail organisations and brands as a content and brand strategist, however, as an independent journalist I am passionate about works that would make a profound impact on society.

I actively write on subjects such as gender equality and identity, LGBTQ++, mental health, poverty, and education among others.

I’ve interest in poetry. “Anubhav” is my debut poetry book in Assamese, published by Krantikal Publications, in 2011. “a dash of Gay for any day” from the house of Bookleaf Publishing is a collection of poems on LGBTQ++.

My first self-directed film was a documentary called “Wake Up Call” based on one’s fight against HIV. In 2021, I made my debut as a children’s book author with the title “Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories” – a progressive book that celebrates unconventional families.

In my free time, I enjoy solo travelling, stargazing, exploring regional cuisines, and reading stories to my twin toddlers.

What led you to write “Puhor and Niyors Mural of Family Stories”? Can you tell us a little about your book?

Pritisha Borthakur: Traditionally published by Author’s Channel, “Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories” is a progressive children’s book that celebrates family diversity.

The book has been named after my twin toddlers – Puhor and Niyor. Whenever I searched for new books for my kids or to gift other children, I was struck by the number of children’s books that depicted one-dimensional, traditional families.

I’m surrounded by close friends and family with young children who don’t look like that. They’re multi-cultural families or families with third culture kids, they’re adopted or blended families, same-sex or single parents, carers…that’s the reality of the incredible tapestry of the world we live in.

Their homes are filled with as much love as any other home and my aim for this book is that every child can see their own family on these pages and know that – even though their family may look or do things differently – they have a place where they belong.

Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and ten. The reason: it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types to appeal to children’s sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time.

I believe children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs, and perceptions.

With this book I am not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits. I simply want to do my part as a parent.

It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? How has the journey been so far?

Pritisha Borthakur: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. Call it an instinct, or maybe my calling. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading me stories.

I had a library card as soon as I was old enough, and would come home with as many books as I could hold.

When I was in primary school, teachers commended me for my creativity and writing skills. I wrote for our school journal, the local newspaper, and was that persistent girl who would write to teen magazines.

Whenever someone asked what I wanted to do with my life during my school days, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I wanted to write and be a journalist! Through my teen years I wrote opinion pieces, and poems and short stories about life and family and love.

During my graduation days in Delhi University, I was working with a UK-based lifestyle magazine called “Expressions”.

This was when I started covering news and writing stories actively. The editor of the magazine would often send in appreciation emails.

She eventually gave me an offer to join them full-time. However, I wanted to pursue my master’s in journalism to explore my interests.

I wished to be exactly like all of those other journalists out there; to learn about a wide range of topics, meet new people every day, work on fascinating news stories.

I spent the past 14 years making it so, carving out a career that took me through national dailies to glossy magazines to the editorship of a Hong-Kong based publication.

In 2019, I left my full-time job to work independently with brands, corporate organisations, and media houses. I never really stopped writing.

It’s my passion and bread and butter. Now with another feather in my cap as an author, I’m writing more than ever.

When did you decide you would write for children and why?

Pritisha Borthakur: Writing for kids is a way to make me feel like a kid again. It gives me so much space for imagination, creativity, and fun.

But as fun and freeing as writing for children can be, it is also a tremendous responsibility. Writing a good book for children has the potential to turn them on or off to reading for the rest of their lives.

But this is another way in which being an author of children’s books can be so rewarding; when you hear from a child whose life was changed by reading your book, you know all the work you put into writing it was more than worth it.

The truth is, writing for children didn’t feel like a choice to me. The idea for “Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories” came to me so strongly, and I knew it had to be written for children—to instill empathy and make them familiar with the everyday people and families around us.

In India, I have come to realise the need for children and adults to welcome families of all kinds. As a mother of twin toddlers, I yearn to help children such as my own learn to be compassionate and understanding towards fellow children with unconventional families.

Growing up, who were your favourite children’s book authors?

Pritisha Borthakur: There are many: Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Lewis Caroll, Rudyard Kipling, Ruskin Bond, Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia, Lakshminath Bezbaruah, and Nabakanta Baruah among others.

You have made immense contribution to the domain of LGBTQ as a journalist and with your poetry book “a dash of Gay for any day”.  What is your objective and inspiration in terms of writing on this subject? Could you tell us more about the book?

Pritisha Borthakur: It’s difficult to understand the realities of discrimination without experiencing them first-hand. As a journalist, when I decided to write extensively on the queer community, the initial experience was like splash of cold water on my face that immediately awakened my senses, delivering a momentary burst of surprise.

As a straight woman, I realised simply how little I know about the overall LGBTQIAP+ struggle towards tolerance and equal rights.

I learnt from my friends, how they and several of their friends have had to overcome significant, often life-changing experiences that took a level of courage we rarely experience.

For the LGBTQ++ coming out is not a “one and done” event: they need to come out with every new person they meet and in every new situation they enter.

When they change jobs. When they make new friends. When they attend parties. Coming out is a lifelong journey, and each coming-out moment is different from the next.

Although today homosexuality and queer identities may be acceptable to a certain extent, but within the boundaries of family, home and school, acceptance of their sexuality and freedom to openly express their gender choices still remain a constant struggle for LGBTQIAP+ people.

Things are a lot more complicated than they need to be. In these ten years, I got introduced to several people from the LGBTQ++ community. I can proudly say that I am a much more informed person now.

To speak more about the book, this collection was written in an attempt to capture some of the realities of being LGBTQ++.

The media presents a very flashy, very unrealistic image of what it means to be LGBTQ++, though it is getting better as of late.

I see members of the LGBTQ++ community as ordinary people, with problems of their own, and I wanted to get at the heart of that. You have a gender you prefer to sleep with and a gender you prefer to be called.

Herein, there are attempts to capture what an LGBTQ++ person suffers through, along with some of the weird little moments of daily life.

People are so obsessed with labels and categories, much to our detriment, and the desire to make everything easy to understand has, paradoxically, made the world so much more complicated than it ever needed to be.

I am a friend in the orbit and have seen enough to know that I want better for them, and researching for this collection only cemented that desire. As I always say, DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) is important for everyone.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring authors?

Pritisha Borthakur: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Everyone has ups and downs at different moments, and paying too much attention to what other people are getting is only going to slow you down. Run your own race. Write what makes you excited, and the enthusiasm will come through on the page.

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