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'Glad Cadbury stuck to SRK during his bad times'

December 01, 2021 12:23 IST
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'Once an ad, or a brand, has taken a stance, it should have the guts to stick to it.'
'You cant put out an ad and then issue an apology.'

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan in the Cadbury's ad.

"I've never been happy when a book is made into a movie. What you have in your head is never as good as what you see on screen," Anuja Chauhan tells Ronjita Kulkarni/

Yet, the novelist is pretty happy with the way her novel Those Pricey Thakur Girls has been adapted into the Web series, Dil Bekaraar.

"A show is always exciting because there are so many episodes and there's an opportunity to get the layering and the detailing done nicely," she explains.

"When I watched the show, I was so happy because they have adapted it so lovingly and tastefully that you see respect for the source material."

Directed by Habib Faisal, our reviewer Sukanya Verma observes that 'at heart, Dil Bekaraar is a Jane Austen meets Basu Chatterjee-Hrishikesh Mukherjee brand of universe inhabiting a sprawling corner of Lutyens' Delhi.'

Did Chauhan want Those Pricey Thakur Girls to be made into a big Bollywood movie like her 2008 novel, The Zoya Factor?

The Zoya Factor starred Sonam Kapoor opposite Malayalam star Dulquer Salmaan in his second Hindi film.

"Frankly, no one came to me, wanting movie rights," Chauhan says. "Everyone wanted it to be a series because there are five sisters."



IMAGE: Meet the Thakurs in Dil Bekaraar.

Chauhan, not unsurprisingly, picks Little Women as her favourite book in the genre.

"I feel Louisa May Alcott just doesn't get her due. I like her girls way better than the girls in Pride And Prejudice," she says.

So who are her favourite authors?

"Among Indian authors: Vikram Seth. Romance: Georgette Heyer. Satire and Humour: Joseph Heller. Crime: Agatha Christie. Old classics: P G Woodhouse. I love the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series."

Photograph: Kind courtesy Anuja Chauhan/Instagram

Chauhan, who has mostly written novels with romance at its heart, tried her hand at a murder mystery earlier this year, Club You To Death.

Was it a deliberate attempt to move away from romance?

"Yes, yes. I wrote that book during the lockdown, when I was so fed up. So that came out of that phase. I also wanted to experiment. What happens is when the beat is too familiar, your work starts feeling a little repetitive. I wanted to shake myself a little and look at other things," she says.

Would she ever try her hand at writing mythology?

"I would like to, yes. I have thought about it. But I have to be careful about which one to pick," she says.

It's not always easy to get young children to read but Chauhan says she never had a problem with her two daughters when they were younger.

"We have a lot of books in the house, so there was that. But also, there would be a lot of a discussions about books. Book references would be thrown around, so if you wanted to know what everyone was talking about, you have to read about it. Our conversations at home are rich with book references," she says.

IMAGE: Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan in The Zoya Factor.

Before she got famous as an author, Chauhan worked in advertising. The Zoya Factor was born out of her experiences of cricket's close association with the Pepsi brand that she was working on in those days.

What does she think of ads these days?

"I liked the Cadbury's ad with Shah Rukh Khan. I'm glad that they put it out at that time, and stuck to him during his bad times," she says, referring to Khan's agonising month of October when his elder son Aryan was jailed for 25 days.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Anuja Chauhan/Instagram

"I am very depressed about this trend of putting an ad out and then issuing an apology and retracting them. I don't understand why people do that," Chauhan, who was the youngest vice presidents at the JWT advertising agency, says.

"Because people find it so easy to fast forward an ad, advertisers should enter conversations, and not just talk about themselves. They should talk about things that people want to talk about.

"They should discuss larger issues. And then I don't think politicians should say, don't talk about this, apne aukat mein raho. Let the ad industry also have an opinion. Let them put out the broad consensus of what the people of India believe in. I don't understand why they are not allowed to talk. I think everyone should be allowed to do that.

"Once an ad, or a brand, has taken a stance, it should have the guts to stick to it. You can't put out an ad and then issue an apology."

Did she ever face this when she was in the ad world?

"When I was active in the ad world, it was a very different country. It is only from 2014, when we attained our independence, according to Kangana Ranaut, that all this has started," Chauhan says.

And that is what gets Chauhan angry.

"The weaponising of religion and creating divisions among people on the basis of caste and religion (gets me angry)," she says. "If we focused on what we have in common rather than what makes us different from each other, we would be so much better off."

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