By Rozina Bhutto
“Now take off those fake sunglasses and look at me.”
“How did you know they were fake?” she asks curiously, momentarily diverted. “They’re really good quality fakes! I couldn’t tell.”
“I know they’re fakes because you’re wearing them.”
This is a scene from Anuja Chauhan’s book, House That BJ Built, where Samar Vir Singh travels all the way to Nepal from Delhi to tell Bonu that he loves her. Yes, this is Chauhan’s idea of romance and that’s why you should read her books; if you’re into chick lits, that is. If Paulo Coelho is your idea of a light, entertaining read then stay miles away from Chauhan’s cheesy desi humour and Minglish.
Her books won’t redefine how you look at life, but she’ll surely give you a good laugh and a heroine who’s insecure (just like you), driven (hopefully like you), and speaks her mind (like you)!
So go on and read these three novels by Chauhan; she has two more (Battle For Bittora and Baaz) but I’m not a huge fan of those.
The Zoya Factor
My first ever book my Chauhan landed on my bookshelf quite randomly. It was a depressing day in Ramazan when a salesperson from Liberty – who apparently saw through my struggle of choosing the perfect book – crept up to me and whispered, “light novel chahiye?”
And since I was going through a dark period in life, I looked at the creepy salesperson and gave a curt nod.
In came the next question: “Aap ko cricket pasand hai?”
Now, the creepy guy seemed even creepier because why was he asking me personal questions? Yes, cricket to me, at that time, was personal. Very personal. So I edged away. But he suddenly became all buoyant and produced The Zoya Factor, which was hidden away in a top corner, and handed it to me.
“You will love this,” he stated. And was he right or what!
This book is about Zoya, a girl in advertising, who suddenly finds herself as the lucky charm of the Indian cricket team which is headed to the world cup! Joya is then forced by a peanut-munching guru to travel with the team, but the handsome captain, Nikhil Khoda, doesn’t approve. The book is filled with the Ad world analogies and a filmy romance.
I spent the following years reading and re-reading The Zoya Factor until that fateful night in Mohali, in 2011. That’s when my love for cricket and this book died a sudden death BUT now that I’m older and wiser, I’d totally re-read it!
Those Pricey Thakur Girls
In 2013, came another gem by Chauhan: Those Pricey Thakur Girls. The idea of reading a story involving five rich-ass Dehli girls sounds particularly snooty, but their struggles are as real as yours and mine.
Debjani, who is ready to become the first ever female English news presenter for India, finds herself stuffed into a car with her family and off they go to the Dur Darshan studio.That’s how the story begins.
Soon after, she comes face to face with a slightly obnoxious and mildly misogynistic – the novel is set in the 80s’ so I’m willing to overlook that – investigative journalist, Dylan Singh Shekhawat. The story proceeds and we see a glimpse of the famous anti-Sikh riots and realise that being a journalist and scoring a good dulha isn’t as easy as it seems.
House That BJ Built
Chauhan took a healthy two-year break before releasing the sequel to Those Pricey Thakur Girls and it ended up being my most favourite book by the author. It spreads a smile on your face from the very first page when Samar Vir Singh – a famous Bollywood director – finds himself in humongous mess after referring to the winners, at the recently held award ceremony, as chootiyon ki baraat. In a drunken state of course.
While Samar is all (well most) things right, Bonita Singh AKA Bonu’s moral compass is slightly askew. As, together, they help chaachi jee collect evidence against her playboy of a husband and disrupt a political movement with one cheesy item number, they fall in love. But in comes the greedy Chandu mausi, ruining Bonu’s life in one swift motion.
Anuja Chauhan’s brand of heroes are too filmi to be real and possess the condemnable qualities of being too macho to let the girl lead a fight, and often find themselves feeling jealous of their best friend for hugging their girlfriend too tightly! Yes, they’re slightly archaic, but don’t we watch chick flicks for some uninhibited fun?
You should read these books if you’re having a bad day or just too experience the perfect world created by Anuja Chauhan.
What do Chauhan’s books offer to the reader apart from some light hearted moments?
Well, Anuja explains it the best:
“In The Zoya Factor, I am saying don’t be swept off your feet by public adulation and don’t be superstitious. With Bittora, I am saying that it’s okay to love your country and be idealistic about politics. In Thakur Girls, I’m saying that don’t sit in a walled garden, be aware of what’s happening around you. And in this book [The House That BJ Built], it’s about the house that BJ built, which is not about the bricks and mortar but the relationships as well.”