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Romance with a dash of cricket
India is so much about families, says Anuja Chauhan, the author of the book, 'Zoya Factor' made into a film with Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salman in the lead
Zoya Factor' was the debut book of the advertising professional- turned-author, Anuja Chauhan, who went on to write other books, and the rights to most are with film makers.
Her 'Battle of Bittora' is with Anil Kapoor's production company, 'Those Pricey Thakur Girls' is with Hotstar, who may also take the sequel and 'Baaz' is with Yashraj films.
While she gives credit to her advertising background that has taught her to write for visuals, just like screen writing; it is her life, growing up in pretty much an all-girls family, living in Karolbagh that was considered uncool but full of vibrancy, a representation of which makes into her book 'Zoya Factor', and above all the trappings of living in a big Indian family that give fodder to her books.
"India is so much about families. Nobody can escape their family with all its disputes, property matters, gossip, and if romance is placed in the midst of so much happening, it shines. Again, and again I have written about families, and that makes by stories authentic.
Even Bridget Jones kind of novels couldn't avoid writing about the mother. And in 'Zoya Factor', the hot and happening captain Nikhil Khoda too has to face it when he visits her house. In a typical manner, she asks him is not to park his car in his chacha's garage space."
Her books almost always revolve around the woman protagonist, and she agrees that the strong voices of women in her books comes from an understanding of being with the girls, aunts, sisters, nieces…
"I have the mind of a giggly 15-year-old.
I like writing romance. And I feel it is only romance and murder that can give a propulsive thrust to writing. Readers hang around to see how the couple meet in the end or who the killer is, and you can put in big issues and themes, social commentary and satire around it. I like the format of a personal story and a larger story happening together," she adds.
Anuja was in the field of advertising for 14 years. She was working as the Executive Creative Director at JW Thomson, one of the leading advertising agencies when she decided she wanted to be a full-time author.
"My agency was very understanding when I told them I wanted to write a book. They even gave me three months paid leave to write my first book. I could not finish it, and so I came back to work and would also write.
I also completed my next book too while working full-time. Both my books did well when I got enough confidence to chuck my job," shares the author.
Anuja Chauhan left behind an extremely successful career. She worked with big brands and was the head behind legendary lines like 'Ye Dil Maange More' – "In advertising it is more of a teamwork," she, however, refuses to take the sole credit.
Anuja has worked on several ad films, and many of the experiences of working with Indian cricketers for Pepsi find their way into her first book 'Zoya Factor', which she calls is Cindrella-esque with much autobiographical baggage.
That said, one wonders how much of real life of cricketers has gone into her story, and who is Nikhil Khoda based on. "That's the captain of my fantasy.
Even though I worked with many captains from Md Azharuddin, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid by the time I wrote this book, my hero is straight out of my imagination. However, there was this one cricketer I disliked, and the character of Rahul Rawat is based on him, and that's how I got my revenge," she reveals.
"I got into advertising to write, and I came out of it in order to be able to write," she states. "Advertising is very restrictive and limiting, we have to stay in a tight box and deliver within limited time.
We need to always check and seek approval. On the other hand, while writing a book, you need not answer anyone except yourself. Every line that is in the book is there because you want it to be there," she elaborates.
It is for the same reason she has not ventured into writing for films, though she worked with the team while doing the screenplay for the movie 'Zoya Factor'. "One has to do a few sacrifices for a movie, but I am ok with how the film turned out.