Clearly Invisible in Paris

Clearly Invisible in Paris Koël Purie Rinchet

Born storyteller, passionate about acting, and most comfortable on her couch, Koel Purie Rinchet says she’s always been a storyteller and her home is a film set — for someone who has known her all my life, I couldn’t agree more.

For Koel, the year began with a big applause she received for her play. She wrote and directed a story taken from her reality — one that is dark yet humorous. Real yet exaggerated, but above all one that will resonate with many women, especially mothers. And the year ends with Zoya Akhtar’s Archies, where she will be seen playing Mrs. Cooper, a role that she fell in love with from the word go. In between these two exceptionally exciting acts, lies her debut novel. A compelling and evocative read, Koel has given her characters so much empathy in her novel that I couldn’t help but feel the loneliness, urgency, sisterhood, nostalgia, and above all, hope that these four extremely diverse characters feel as immigrants in a land they are yearning to call home.

On an extremely interesting morning, I caught up with her to know more about writing, films, and everything in between.

When did your romance with writing begin?
I have to say writing is my zen. It’s the place where the noise from the world just comes to a standstill. Unlike some writers who go to cottage and write in isolation, I write amongst craziness. I have a kid, I have a house that I’m running, I have madness. And I’m writing amongst it all. I think I’ve always been a storyteller. So in some form or the other, I need to express myself. I’ve written my whole life. But when I started writing Clearly Invisible in Paris, it didn’t start off as a book. It started off as something different. And when I started writing it, I was like, I need to be inside the head of these characters. The minute you want to be inside the head of the characters, it’s got to be a book, right? It’s got to be a novel. It’s got to be fiction. So I think I write to get away from myself, like the noise in my head.

Tell us about your debut novel.
It’s a love letter to friendships. Improbable, odd, the most unlikely of friendships, especially those that you make later in life, and how these friendships see you through your darkest times, your lowest point. And because of these friendships, you find your own family and you are able to survive in a place you call home that really isn’t home.

So much of your reality is present in your novel and play – how important is it for you to feel to create?
I think unless you drink deep from the cup of life, you can’t create. Unless you empathise, feel, experience, open your eyes, listen, talk to people, live deeply, you cannot create deeply. I really believe that.

Clearly Invisible in Paris

The migrant crisis continues and you havewritten such an important and relevant story, even though it is fiction, it is real – what can fiction do that non-fiction cannot?
So I wrote a lot of non-fiction. I used to write a weekly column from Japan, and also during confinement from Paris, The Paris Diary and stuff. And it has its place, non-fiction has its place where you’re making a point. It has to be very well researched. You have to know what you’re talking about. But fiction has the freedom of imagination. You can just go anywhere with it in just one minute. You are talking about who gets to be an immigrant, who gets to be an expat, who is Parisian enough, who isn’t Parisian enough. And the next minute someone is hanging from outside a building wrapped in a sheet, right? That’s the power of fiction. You can tell stories and you can transport people. Also I think fiction has a way of touching people that non-fiction doesn’t.

Non-fiction is great, especially well-written non-fiction. It can touch people when you’re interested in that particular area, that particular topic or that burning issue is something that you’re concerned about. But fiction is just a story. We are there to entertain. We are there to make you transcend. We are there to take you somewhere else. We’re there also to hold up a mirror and say, do you relate? You know? Can you get this character? What else can we do? Why else are we storytellers? We are there to make life that much more colourful, that much easier in hard times. And to entertain. I’m a storyteller. I don’t really care about the medium. And I can say that now with confidence because now I’ve also written my first play. So I can say yes, I don’t care about the medium. I’ve been doing television since I was twenty-one years old. I’ve been writing for non-fiction television. For me, as long as you’re telling a story, that’s good enough for me.

This is an exclusive excerpt from our August EZ. To read the entire article and more such pieces, follow the link here.

Words Shruti Kapur Malhotra
Date August, 2023