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Indian Chick-Lit : Smug and selling

Swati Kaushal

Anuja Chauhan

Meenakshi Reddy

The romance of the quick and spicy chick-lit (ingredients and flavour totally desi) is spurring the Indian market to buy and read like never before. And it is the pretty-young-things with their saucy, smug and sexy writing that are accelerating the sales into dizzy new highs. In most other genres—a struggling, breathless 3000 copies are applauded by publishers as best sellers while this savvy, in- your- face lit is instantly pulling readers and pushing over 10,000 copies per month. Aha, what have we here? Even as Indians writers are snatching worldwide attention with their heavy-weight literary fiction, it is this emerging breed of young authors that is likely to laugh all the way to the bank. For decades, Indian readers with an inclination for chicklit had to make do with the import of romance rapidly fleshed out by Mills &Boon, Harlequin etc… Neither the location nor the TDH (tall, dark and handsome) protagonists of these books quite belonged to the landscape of the Indian mind. Karthika V K, publisher and chief editor of HarperCollins, who has always enjoyed chick-lit (she hid them between text books and read them during class hours, I can vouch for that!) says, “The market is expanding and there is great scope for commercial books. With about 10–12 chick-lit titles put together by all the publishers in the Indian market—we have the right books at the right time. And these authors are writing books that have strong story lines. They are also extremely promotable authors, who are very visible.” The two titles published by HarperCollins—Almost Single by Advaita Kala and The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan have become bestsellers and HC is planning to publish another 2-3 by next year. Interestingly even unknown authors are doing extremely well. “Yes,” agrees Karthika, “because it is packaged differently and the cover is designed for popular read.” As for You Are Here by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan— despite an iffy plot and wild meanderings, the effusions of this much hyped blog-writer of The Complusive Confessor blog— the chronicling of mundane stuff that is nowhere near as effervescent as her blog, sold over 12000 copies in the first month. The younger readers rave about the book. Says Swathi M, “I find the book interesting and I can identify with it because she has written about the people in the metros who are aping the western culture and trying to get there.” (However, when I read the book, I pondered how the complexities of a miserable heartache could be elevated to such profound inanities. Oh boy! And I am truly grateful that expression does not come with a six pack!) But not all chick-lit is as complex in its meanderings as You Are Here. Piece of Cake (Penguin) by Swati Kaushal did well and her latest work A Girl Like Me is wellwritten and is poised to do better. Says Abhinaya Chakirala, an avid chick-lit reader, “There is a lot of sarcasm and humour in chick-lit. I really enjoyed Piece of Cake because I could relate to the central character, who had a career and a family and it was almost real. I look forward to reading her new book.”
Says author, Swati Kaushal, “I think in India, chick-lit is a very new phenomenon. The market has really grown for books that reflect the lives of confident and modern young women. There is however, the danger of too many me-books, with similar story lines and that’s when the attractiveness of a genre like chick-lit will start to fade. I think the market for well-written, accessible novels with contemporary themes is here to stay and will only grow.” As for those who want to achieve this success—anyone can try their luck at chick-lit provided you come up with the right formula and do the research, Says Diya Kar Hazra, managing editor & rights manager, Penguin India, “There’s tremendous scope for writers because there’s great demand for chick-lit. Essentially what is required is good writing: a racy narrative, a sound plot, strong characters and a good style. A strong sense of dialogue and characterisation help.” It seems like finally English chick-lit writers have found romance on Indian soil. And this is only the beginning of the deluge of novels we are about to see.
Anuja Chauhan, the executive creative director and vice president of JWT, Delhi and author of The Zoya Factor speaks to What’s Hot. “The book took me one year to write—in which time I worked on it full time for three months, and part-time for nine months while also holding down my full-time day job. I wrote it because I wanted to really stretch myself out. Advertising writing is fun but there’s always a product to be sold, a story to be told, which is not mine. There are durations and budget constraints. There are other people involved—clients, directors, movie stars. Everybody has a point of view, and they should too, that’s the way advertising functions! But I wanted to write something in which there would be no constraints whatsoever. And in which there would be no one to call the shots but me. Writing a novel gave me that freedom. The writing process was wild giddy fun from start to finish. I had a total blast, people kept asking me if I was expecting while I was writing, I had a glow. The book’s been received very well! Much better than I would’ve imagined in my most optimistic dreams. Ninety five percent of the reviews have been raves. I’m very flattered and very excited. We’ve sold seventeen thousand copies in less than two months! I have some very exciting movie offers too. And yes, I am very wary of being pigeon-holed. Now if there was a genre called damned-good-book-ya-mustread-ya-couldn’t-put-it-down-ya, then I would love to be classified in that!”


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Haiku Poems said…
pretty woman r all of u.
Write poetry
reporter'sdiary said…
'I pondered how the complexities of a miserable heartache could be elevated to such profound inanities.' I kind of agree...having read first 50 or so pages of You are here..And you put it always minu...
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Anonymous said…
You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

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