Cinema, OTT bring wider readership, but books offer creative control: Writer Anuja Chauhan

"Whenever we read a book we are always visualising it and it is tailor-made to us with our experiences and our imaginations. Cinema or OTT shows can never take over books

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Anuja Chauhan (File Photo)

New Delhi: Books offer complete creative freedom to writers and infinite imaginative space to readers, something that cinema and OTT shows cannot, says bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.

Chauhan's "The Zoya Factor" was turned into a movie starring Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan, while "Those Pricey Thakur Girls" was adapted for OTT show "Dil Bekaraar" on Disney+Hotstar.Her crime novel "Club You to Death" is being adapted by Homi Adajania as "Murder Mubaarak".

"Whenever we read a book we are always visualising it and it is tailor-made to us with our experiences and our imaginations. Cinema or OTT shows can never take over books because with books you have the added joy and full freedom of visualising it,” Chauhan told PTI in an interview at the just-concluded Sikkim Arts and Literature Festival in the northeastern state.

The author said the visual medium has its own benefits as it exposes a writer to more readers.

"Even if your name appears as a ‘based on the novel by’ that’s a big thing because a lot of people are watching that. Every time that thing (Dil Bekaraar) comes on TV it feels nice, because more people are becoming aware of your work and the hope is always that after watching the show they will go and buy the book and as a writer you can always do with more people reading,” the 52-year-old said.

However, the writer believes that while it makes sense from the filmmaker's perspective to adapt a book into a film, more often than not readers feel cheated when they see the adaptations.

"I can understand filmmakers' interest in picking up books because writers spend a lot of time agonising over characters, plot, motivation, flaws and conflict. That’s why I think filmmakers come towards books because books are deeper and more layered. I think readers of books always feel cheated when they see the adaptations…They are different creatures and each has its own audience, that’s what I feel,” she said.

Chauhan, who led a successful advertising career in a multinational company for nearly two decades, wrote the first two books – “The Zoya Factor” (2008) and “Battle For Bittora” (2010) – while working full-time and taking care of three children under the age of 13.

She later resigned as she wanted to have full creative freedom.

"I felt like my goal was that once I have established myself as a writer and I am earning the same kind of money, then I will be able to sit with my laptop anywhere in the world. I won't have to leave my bed if I don't want to, I can have my kids with me, and that was the motivation that kept me going.

"The other thing is I was absolutely desperate for creative control, because in advertising you get big budgets, big actors, big brands, but you don’t get creative control. Eventually, the child is not yours. So after about 16 years I stopped,” the writer of “Baaz” said.

She added that even though movies pay her “extremely well”, it is books that give her satisfaction.

"My books are pure. I put my heart and soul in them and nobody has a say in that. It’s me all the way, so if you are interested in my voice, read that. The movie may be equally wonderful and marvellous, but it’s the director’s movie. So I think this is a happy space and I have readers who I am proud of,” Chauhan said.

She is currently writing her second detective novel, titled “The Fast and The Dead”, which will bring back the protagonist, ACP Bhavani Singh, from her previous crime fiction, “Club You To Death”.

The upcoming book revolves around a series of murders, which start on the night of Karwa Chauth, in Habba Gali of Bengaluru’s Shivajinagar municipality. In the book, Chauhan’s ACP Bhavani hunts for clues while on his 'annual honeymoon', resplendent in floral bush shirts and Bermuda shorts.' Chauhan said in crime fiction, the gory and sordid do not attract her. It is the “cozy crime” that she loves to write and read.

“I don’t like it when it’s too gory that I can’t bear it, when things are kind of sordid and especially the gritty violence. It is not my cup of tea, for me, I sit in a location like this with a cup of hot chocolate and I read cozy crime,” she said indicating to the interview setting, the mountainous slopes of Norbugang in Sikkim’s Yuksom town.