With Vidya Balan and Vani Tripathi Tikoo at Jaipur Lit Fest

Screenplay writer Nayanika Mahtani who worked on the film on the late mathematical genius Shakuntala Devi, told Vani Tripathi Tikoo at the Jaipur Literature Festival London 2021 that during the process of working on the film, she had met Devi’s daughter, Anupama. “(At) that meeting, she didn’t speak very much…she had lost her mother, there wasn’t closure. There was a lot of unfinished stuff in her head: grief, pain, hurt and resentment.” 

What drew Mahtani in, as a mother and daughter, was that Anupama had the honesty to share the story of mother. “It was without airbrushing either her mother’s flaws or her own…she was telling it with an honesty that really resonated,” said Mahtani and further added that for her, the emotional core of the story was the realisation that one’s mother is not just a mother – she also has her own dreams, baggage and journey.

“Anu Banerjee and Shakuntala were very different people but at the heart of it, they shared this stubborn sense of DNA,” which was their honesty and courage to own their choices. Though she did resent her mother, she wanted to tell the story of her mother – that was her tribute to her. It was a story that kicked one in the guts and that was what captivated Mahtani’s imagination.

With Ruskin Bond and Imtiaz Ali at
Dehradun Lit Fest

Master Storytellers in Conversation Ruskin Bond with Imtiaz Ali Moderated by Nayanika Mahatani Venue Courtesy Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels The Savoy Mussoorie

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Good Books Video re: Genghis

A Goodbooks Video: Chit-Chat with Nayanika Mahtani, author of “The Gory Story of Genghis Khan: Aka Don’t Mess with the Mongols”, published by Penguin Random House (2017). Put together by Shyam Madhavan Sarada and Vidya Mani. Assisted by Aaron Shyam Clarke. Edited by Agasthya Ajay. This video was made possible with the support of Parag, A Tata Trusts Initiative. For more videos like this, visit

With Diinesh Kumble

KumbledD – In conversation with Nayanika Mahtani, author and screenwriter. She has recently co-written the story and screenplay for a Hindi film on the mathematical genius, “Shakuntala Devi”, whose role is played by Vidya Balan.

With Penguin Editor Sohini Mitra

‘I would hope that what young people take away from this is that there are many versions to every story and yes, this is my version, this is one version. And by looking at different versions, we can have more tolerance in this world.’

JLF Meet the Mongols

Armed with an intriguing tale, fabulously foul facts and our time travelling commentator Yakkety Yak’s appalling jokes, Nayanika Mahtani sets out to explore whether Genghis Khan really was the evil villain that he is often made out to be. Are you ready to meet the Mongols? (Ages 9+)

Ambushed Book Review

In this video, I review the children’s fiction book Ambushed written by the Indian author Nayanika Mahtani. This book is an ideal read for children between the ages 9 to 12 years. It has an interesting story along with lots of information on Tigers and their current struggles.

Scripting Your Passion: Aspire for Her

Watch this video to hear Nayanika Mahtani talk about authoring, screenwriting and how to script your passion! Nayanika Mahtani is an award winning author and screenwriter. Her best selling books include- Across The Line, Ambushed and The Glory Story Of Genghis Khan and The Puffin Book Of Holiday Stories. Nayanika has co-written the film script based on the extraordinary true story of ’Human Computer’, Shakuntala Devi.

JLF session with Nandana Sen, Paro Anand, Jerry Pinto on Writing for Children

JLF Session with Puneeta Roy on Ambushed

Nayanika Mahtani in conversation with Puneeta Roy