Famous Indian authors, Durjoy Datta and Ravinder Singh attended Day 3 of Sahitya AajTak 2019 being held in New Delhi. During their session titled, ‘What makes a novel tick,’ the two spoke about what makes a best seller novel and what it is like being an author in India.
WHAT ENTAILS A BESTSELLER
Durjoy said, “I am not sure, the first book I wrote, I did not tell my parents about it, I did not want my parents to know about it. Because I am a babu shona of my Bengali family, and according to my parents, the only woman that I had ever spoken to was my mother. I did not want them to read about my experiences. For my first book, I was just writing what I wanted to read. Other similar books that I had read were by abroad authors, those books did not strike close to home.”
He said, “My first book was a hit and after 5-6 hits when I tried to recreate the magic, I wrote, ‘You were my crush, till you said you loved me,’ but it tanked. So I thought let me try to not write a best seller but let me write about what I want to read. When I started writing, most of my characters were based on the 21-year-old me. Now, that is not the case. People used to tell me that your books are relatable, but I can’t do that anymore. Now, I write books based on people in their 30’s. I have stopped trying to appease the core janta.”
Ravinder Singh said, “I was 26 when my first book got published. I had zero idea about the publishing business. I had a personal tragedy that made me write my debut novel. Then I started thinking ki best seller kab banta hai. Sadly in this country, if you sell 10000 books it becomes a best-seller, which I think is wrong. I consider the book is a best seller when you see a vendor selling it on the red light on a road because that means ki copies bik rahi hai. When you enter the metro and you see a girl reading your book and she is engrossed, that is a great feeling and that means your book is selling.”
Durjoy added, “I really think that you can’t write a bestseller, everyone can deconstruct the rules and write like that and follow the rules, but it doesn’t work. For our first books, I think that we were in the right place at the right time and nobody has been able to replace Ravinder in that genre till now. It is not a zero figure game. If his book is selling, mine will also sell. As a reader, if I read a book, if the book is good, the audience would want to read a similar book instantly.”
WHO IS YOUR READER WHILE WRITING?
Ravinder Singh said, “My close group of friends.”
Durjoy said, “My wife, she is my beta reader. She is incredibly busy, but when I give her a script and she is able to finish it and gives me great feedback, I feel that there is a hit story. I only write for my wife now. Now, I write what is most interesting to me.”
IS THERE MONEY IN BOOKS?
Ravinder said, “Sadly, the reality in this country is that you cannot make a good living by just being an author.”
Durjoy also agreed with Ravinder. He said, “I also do writing for television. I write for, Sasural Simar Ka and Nagarjuna. There is a lot of money for tv show writers. If Game Of Thrones writers also had to write 33 episodes a year, they would also do what Sasural Simar Ka is doing. If I was only writing books, I don’t think I would have gotten married. There is no money.”
Ravinder added saying, While I was still working, I realised, Microsoft was paying me the money and the publishing house royalties were like pocket money. Only 5 top writers in India are the ones who can just survive on writing books.”
WHAT DO THEY READ?
Durjoy said that he reads widely. “I was thrust books in my face quite early in life. I never read any romance books in life because my parents used to dictate those choices. Now I read everything. The kind of books I write and what I read there is a huge difference. Now I read a lot of history. The writers that I have gone back to again and again are Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri.”
Ravinder said he started reading Murakami recently.
THEIR PERSONAL STORY OF ROMANCE
Durjoy Dutta proposed to his wife on Twitter. He told us how that exactly happened. “My wife has been living abroad for a long time and there, proposals are a big thing which is not so much the case in India. People used to ask her ‘what was your proposal like?’ Little did she know that writers are romantic in their heads and not in real life. A week before we were about to get married, I thought I will ask my followers to ask her to marry me and I did the same on Facebook and Twitter and I had no idea that it would blow up so much. And now she has a story. Whenever someone asks her, how did your husband proposed you she says, just Google it.”
Ravinder added, “I am single right now, I am romantic in my head and churning romance only for my readers and making money out of romance.”
THEIR IDEA OF ROMANCE
Ravinder said, “I want to feel good and feel special. I want to bring out the romance of something which is very boring.”
Durjoy added, “Romance has meant different things at different points of time in my life. But now as a 33-year-old, when I look at a woman whose husband is taking care of a child when she is away for 3 days, have you seen the amount of lust in that woman’s eyes? It is incredible. The definition of love keeps changing. For me maintaining a household is love. Now when I see 16-17 years olds in love I think baccha paida karo fir pata lagega.”
IS IT DIFFICULT TO WRITE ABOUT SEX
Ravinder said, “No, my question is does my book really need it? Zabardasti add nai karna sex only because my readers want to read it. I really have to feel the need for it. I am trying to experiment, I am trying to make my next book a mix of romance and erotica.”
Durjoy said “In my last 5-6 books I haven’t written about sex at all. It is the tease that works better than the actual scene and now I am bored writing about the same thing again and again.”
Ravinder added, ” It was a good thing executed in a bad way.” But Durjoy had a different view. He said, “It was a bad thing executed in a bad way.”
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