'Those Pricey Thakur Girls' is the most 'autobiographical' of all my books: Author Anuja Chauhan
Anuja Chauhan's book 'Those Pricey Thakur Girls' has been turned into an OTT series Dil Bekaraar; the author speaks about the adaptation of the book which reflects her own upbringing in the ’80s
In a magnificent bungalow situated in the posh area of New Delhi's Hailey Road resides Justice Laxmi Narayan Thakur and his wife Mamta, who spend their days anxiously watching their five beautiful daughters.
Set in the pre-liberalisation period, this is the life of girls from a 'privileged family' in the '80s and '90s. This is not just a story from the book 'Those Pricey Thakur Girls' by Anuja Chauhan, but a partial reflection of Chauhan’s life during the same period. And now, the book has been optioned to an OTT series called Dil Bekaraar, directed by Habib Faisal, and is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
The Bengaluru-based prolific writer recalls that this work was the most 'autobiographical' of all her books so far and was inspired by her own upbringing.
"At the time of writing the book in 2010, my children were very young and there were no TV shows that were getting nostalgic about the '80s. I also recalled how I grew up with my elder sisters at home. This established the setting and the flavour of the book," says Chauhan, the daughter-in-law of veteran politician Margaret Alva.
The book is also an interplay between free journalism and the government's media mouthpiece, which Chauhan says was inspired by the works of her husband Niret Alva, a television producer. Capturing the nostalgic mood and moments of an Indian family's lifestyle back in the day was quite a challenge for her.
In fact, some publishers did not approve of her stories only because of the time frame it was set in. "I don't find any point in catching a trend because by the time the book comes out, the fad fizzles out. I am always compelled to write what I feel and go with my own gut," says Chauhan, whose other books - Baaz (Yash Raj Films) and Battle for Bittora (Anil Kapoor Film Company) - were optioned into film scripts.
One of the talking points of Dil Bekaraar is the character of the youngest sister, Debjani, who is fiery and combative in nature. Stressing on how the character came into being, Chauhan says, "We are four sisters at home and I was the youngest. I was conscious of the fact that we were a family of girls with energy"
"I also had this sense of living in Jane Austin’s world. Taking a cue from these instances, I wanted to write about the youngest girl who is always pampered and lives in a cocooned world. The graph of this character was very interesting," says Chauhan.
In Dil Bekaraar, Chauhan felt that Anjini's character could have had more value. "I was a little let down about the way Anjini was portrayed. She was slightly neglected in the series. She is so much more pampered. She is very possessive of her loved ones and I feel this part could have been covered better," she says.
As books are turned into OTT shows, Chauhan believes that filmmakers are in need of stories and authors have a gold mine of them.
"A lot of people have been hired by OTT platforms to read books and scout for authors. Writers and authors are finally getting their due. Any book is a product of years of research. When a filmmaker gets hold of this, half of his work is already done," says Chauhan, who is now working on her new book The Fast and the Dead, based on the festival Karva Chauth.