Shah Rukh Khan might find his photo on the next mushy romantic novel. The actor, according to Claire Somerville, India manager of popular publication house, Mills and Boon, makes for the perfect hero.
"He is irresistibly attractive, powerful and assertive," she gushes, adding that the ideal protagonist in their books is a man who discovers himself through a romantic journey where the heroine plays a catalyst.
She admits that actor Sonam Kapoor is her ideal heroine, saying, "The female protagonist has to be likeable, trusting and intelligent. Also, no matter how ambitious and forthright the heroine is, she should be feminine, which I believe is intrinsic to Indian films as well."
Reacting to feminists like Julie Bindel, who’ve likened the M&B depiction of romance to "rape embellished with meaningful looks", Claire insists, "Our books cater to intelligent women who indulge in fantasy. Don’t most Bollywood stories have happy endings too?"
Two years ago, the publication house tested the waters by publishing a story set in India written by their most celebrated romantic author, Penny Jordan. The protagonist was an Indian prince. Claire reveals, "Our first book written by an Indian author, Milan Vora’s The Love Asana, has sold four times more in India than our international titles."
The publishing house, which has earlier collaborated with Imran Khan’s I Hate Luv Storys (2010) and John Abraham’s Jhootha Hi Sahi (2010), is scouting for more Indian writers and will run their annual contest in September this year. And this time, the readers will also have a chance to choose from the ten best Indian writers by checking the company’s website.
Desi M&B writers
After Milan Vora’s The Love Asana, three other books by Indian authors Aastha Atray (journalist), Poonam Dabbas (homemaker) and Shoma Narayanan, (marketing) are underway. The trio were the finalists at the second edition of the M&B scouting Indian writers. Applications for the third edition will be be accepted in September.