Frank, outspoken and fun, that's author Anuja Chauhan for you. Chauhan, author of bestsellers like The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittora and Those Pricey Thakur Girls, whose latest offering The House That BJ Built (Westland) will hit the shelves on May 25 gives us a glimpse into the book.
The House That BJ Built is a sequel to Those Pricey Thakur Girls, which has been adapted into a television show Dilli Wali Thakur Girls. The author, a successful advertising professional, tells HT City why she dislikes the TV adaptation and how comparisons with Pride and Prejudice don't bother her.
Tell us about The House That BJ Built? Did you always have a sequel in mind while writing Those Pricey Thakur Girls?
When I was initially writing, it started out as a story of a property dispute set in the 1980s. What is now Those Pricey Thakur Girls was actually called The House That BJ Built. But it became really long. Hence I had to break it up into two parts and it involved a lot of rewriting. The sequel was already there when I wrote Those Pricey Thakur Girls. The House That BJ Built is set in 2008 and the saga of property dispute continues. Now, the next generation is bickering over the house.
How attached are you to the characters you build? Do you ever have any favourites?
I am very attached to the characters I create. But I am also very fickle. My children said that when I was writing The Zoya Factor I was living and breathing cricket. Once I finished the book, I kind of forgot all about it and concentrated on something else. I spend about a year writing a book so I better like the characters I create. I like to give something unique to every character, some quirky or witty lines. I want to be fair to all of them. But I don't think I get attached to any particular character.
Were you by any chance influenced by Jane Austen because Those Pricey Thakur Girls reminds us of Pride and Prejudice?
I have read a lot of Jane Austen but I am not a fan as such. If you write about five sisters, it is bound to draw parallels with Pride and Prejudice. We are four sisters and everyone would say that we are like the sisters in Pride and Prejudice. I have grown up in a big family and known all about the family dynamics.
Are you happy with the way Dilli Wali Thakur Girls has turned out?
No, I am not at all happy with the way the serial has turned out. The makers have the rights so I can't do anything about it. But the serial is nothing like my book. The makers explained that it has been altered for a television audience. Also the casting is a little off. I really don't like Dylan in the serial. He doesn't look, speak or think like the Dylan in my book.
You are a successful advertising professional. Why take up writing? How did it happen?
When you are into advertising you are paid to tell someone else's story. You are like a nanny. It is never your own baby. You do as you are asked to. I was getting frustrated with it and took up writing. That is how it started.
Your all-time favourite book and author?
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. I can read these books any number of times. I read all kinds of books and don't have a preferred genre. But I hope that the sequel to A Suitable Boy is really thick, so that I can relish it for a long time. I also hope he hurries up with it.
Which book are you currently reading?
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.
Tell us about your future projects?
I have a plot in mind for my next book. But I will take at least three months before I begin work on it as I need time to detach from my latest book.
Anil Kapoor's company has bought the rights for Battle For Bittora. News is Sonam and Fawad has been cast. Can you tell us more?
I am happy with the casting but don't know the current status. I have read the screenplay and it's a little different from my book. The production house is great and I hope it turns out to be a good film.
Any news about when we can see The Zoya Factor on screen?
Producer Pooja Shetty (who bought the rights from Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Productions) is supposed to make an announcement soon. I don't know more than that.
Other than writing what are your hobbies?
I have found a new hobby in the last few months, gardening. My husband and I have bought a house on the outskirts of Bangalore and we are gardening like maniacs.