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‘I hate typecasting'

She’s a bestselling ‘chicklit’ author, but Anuja Chauhan hates that word. Find out what the author has to say about her latest book Battle For Bittora. Read on for more.

books Updated: Nov 20, 2010 01:24 IST
Damini Purkayastha

Battle For Bittora is a love story, set against the backdrop of grimy Lok Sabha elections, told with a witty angle that is characteristic of author Anuja Chauhan. The novel follows the turbulent romance of Ginni and Zain — the youngest people to contest the Lok Sabha elections. But, the author confesses that she has issues with being typecast as a ‘chicklit writer’.

There are fewer romantic scenes of Ginni and Zain than in your earlier novel The Zoya Factor. Was it a conscious decision because the last time around your book was typecast as “chicklit”?
No! In fact, there’s as much Jinni-Zain as there was Nikhil-Zoya. Yes, I do have issues with being typecast as ‘chicklit’, not because I have issues with ‘chicklit’, but because I have issues with typecasting.

Zain is a well-read, idealistic and good looking politician. Was Rahul Gandhi the inspiration?
Zain’s moody and charming and stormy-eyed and wickedly witty and vulnerable all at once. He’s a regular-guy but he can get all haughty and khandaani sometimes. His idealism echoes the attitude of a lot of young MPs today. If I’ve lifted any background from anywhere, it's from Saif Ali Khan’s life, not Rahul Gandhi's.

Where did the story start?
Well, it started with this one visual I had in my head, of two candidates from two different parties embracing passionately at a funeral, with their party workers, the press and the general janta reeling and going “ho-ji” in the background.

How long did you take to write this book?
Thirteen months.

There’s a lot of popular culture in your book — a Parsi VJ, for instance. Your character Salmon Khan is a real chump, specially the way overdoes the whole election dance. Is he based on a certain Bollywood actor?
The Parsi VJ is there because, “as all the so-called ‘intellectual’ news channels have sunk to cheap sensationalistic reportage, the frivolous MTV types have to give the viewers the serious, in-depth coverage they crave.” And Salmon Khan is a fictional character, completely!

You’ve made not-so-veiled references to a lot of politicians. Any reactions so far?
All feedback so far have been extremely positive.

Do you follow politics? Have you ever been on an election rally?
Yes! Election rallies are totally insane; far more insane than anything I’ve described in B4B.

Have you received any film offers for Battle ...?
Yes, lots! I am in talks with studios everyday.

Which actor will be playing Nikhil Khoda, and who would you like to see as Zain?
No clue on Nikhil — and Zain is a tough call too. I’d like a toffee brown version of James Franco, ideally.

Have you started working on your third book?
No! I haven’t started yet. Somebody’s commissioning me to write a screenplay. So that’s slowing me down. But the third book will be a romance, definitely. That’s the only thing I like to write; my brain is stuck at 16.

Some of her favourite romances
Friday’s Child, Beauvallet and Arabella — Georgette Heyer (Sir Nicholos Beauvallet is supercool)
Avalon High and Princess Diaries 3 — Meg Cabot (My heart beats Mi-chael, Mi-chael, too, just like Mia’s)
Anne of Green Gables — Lucy Montgomery (Gilbert Blythe + Anne Shirley = ultimate childhood sweethearts)
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
A Suitable boy — Vikram Seth (but it’s not Lata and Kabir I love so much here, its Mann and Firoz)