By Sharanya Gopinathan
Romance writers Anuja Chauhan and Nikita Singh were supposed to sit down with Paromita Vohra, filmmaker and found of Agents of Ishq, to have a discussion on romance writing in India this morning as part of the Times Litfest Bengaluru 2017, presented by ACT Fibernet. However, since Nikita Singh was late (due to totally unavoidable circumstances), the session began with just Chauhan and Vohra until Nikita joined them.
It kicked off with Chauhan talking about romance as a genre. To her, it’s the only real genre that exists, and romance is what you focus on no matter what you’re dealing with. She pointed out that even in a film where a huge ship hits an iceberg and hundreds of people die, Jack and Rose are what everyone obsesses over.
Chauhan also spoke about how she wants people to feel her romance, so she writes purely and without a target audience in mind, which is a refreshing change from her other work, in advertising.
Vohra spoke about how in India, unlike a lot of other countries, most romance writers are men, and their work seems to centre around “Devdas” types who’ve had their heart broken and are in need of great love and fixing. Chauhan responded that she’s not a huge fan of the “you’re not like other girls” brand of plot line, because it reeks of girls being pitted against other girls. She said of both her characters and in real life, that if your motives are pure and you’re looking for love, you’ll find it. She also said that male romance writers are this popular in India because they’re kind of cute, which is a general rarity.
Vohra was also interested in exploring the idea of coming together despite differences in romantic writing. She spoke about how people very rarely meet those outside of circles similar to their own and questioned Chauhan on the seeming homogeneity of class in her novels, to which Chauhan responded that her books have a variety of characters, from different religions, backgrounds and political leanings, and with a little heat, said that falling in love within a certain bracket didn’t make that love any less authentic than one that traversed boundaries of class and origin.
When Nikita joined the panel, she was asked about how different kinds of readers respond to her books. She said that she thinks a majority of her readers are female, although she has male fans too. She noticed that her male fans tended to be more engrossed by a book’s plot or plot device, whereas her female fans would write in saying they were “so in love” with a specific character. Vohra interjected to say that it was interesting that women seemed to be looking for love, in so many different ways. The session closed with the official launch of Nikita Singh’s new book, Every Time It Rains.
Best moment of the discussion? Paromita Vohra’s deadpan expression when asking:
Leave a Reply