A lockdown project, which she started in January and wrapped up in June this year, the recently released fiction title ‘Club You to Death’ by writer Anuja Chauhan (HarperCollins India) may not be gory, but it has all the elements of ‘cozy crime’.
“Just like the works of Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, authors who I have always enjoyed reading. Set in Delhi, ‘Club You to Death’ is set in the heart of the Lutyens’ zone, in a posh club that everybody wants to be a member of, but very few people get to be. That’s the setting where the murder happens. It is slightly different from what I’ve written before and was an interesting write,” said the author who also wrote ‘The Zoya Factor’, which was adapted into a film starring Sonam Kapoor.
While several film and television production houses have already started showing interest in ‘Club You to Death’, the writer said that her focus is on the book at the moment. “There seems to be a lot of interest considering the fact that whodunits, like ‘Knives Out’ are so popular nowadays.”
Ask her if certain elements get lost during adaptations of her works for the screen, and she asserted that the same holds true for most books and not just hers. “Frankly, as a reader, I have always been disappointed. Whenever a favourite book is made into a movie, I wonder — ‘What is this’? If your first love is reading, then one is always going to be a little upset with the screen version.”
For someone who left a major advertising agency at the peak of her career to pursue full time writing, it was not really a tough call to make. “The creative bit is interesting, but as you move up the ladder, it means a lot of administration and HR work too. Considering I wanted to spend all my time writing, I felt it was better to just quit and then write full-time instead of having a fancy designation and not too much writing to do. The other thing is because in advertising and applied art, there’s always a lot of strategy, there’s a product to be sold, there’s a story to be told, and that can be a little limiting.”
Talking about her book ‘Baaz’, which had the 1971 war backdrop and has been taken up by Yash Raj Films, the writer says that while she researches for every work, this one involved reaching out to family members who were fighter pilots. “They introduced me to the people who had seen action. Also, it’s still easy to get hard facts, with my army background, I could get the soft material too.”
In a world where it is convenient to label and slot writers and artists, Chauhan, whose book ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ is being adapted as a series for an OTT platform says that she prefers to ignore them for they make life poorer. “And you end up exploring a lot less. There are so many delightful surprises and discoveries, waiting out there. Sadly, we have labels everywhere, it is like saying that ‘Oh, you’re an actress, so don’t talk about politics’. We love putting people into little boxes, which is so absurd considering nobody lives in those spaces.”
Smiling that she does not really write for a ‘target audience’, Chauhan, who has written the screenplay for a film, a cross-border romance starring Arjun Kapoor, Rakul Preet Singh and Neena Gupta said that it is a much different process as compared to a book. “A screenplay is more collaborative. It’s always nice to work with people when you have been working alone on a book for too long. And the opposite holds true too.”