auraiya, Uttar Pradesh
|Known for||The Zoya Factor (2008) "Battle For Bittora" (2010) "Those Pricey Thakur Girls" (2012)|
Anuja Chauhan (born 1970) is an Indian author and advertiser. She worked in the advertising agency, JWT India, for over 17 years, eventually becoming vice-president and executive creative director, before resigning in 2010 to pursue a full-time literary career. Over the years she worked with brands like Pepsi, Kurkure, Mountain Dew and Nokia, creating Pepsi's "Nothing official about it" campaign and advertising slogans such as Pepsi's "Yeh Dil Maange More" and "Oye Bubbly". As a writer, she is best known for her best-selling, contemporary rom-com novels, The Zoya Factor (2008), Battle For Bittora (October 2010) and "Those Pricey Thakur Girls" (January 2013). All three books are romances, the first set in the glamorous, high pressure world of Indian cricket, the second in the heat and dust of a Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) election. and the third in pre-liberalization New Delhi, plagued by a state-censored media. 
Early life and education
Born in a Rajput family the small town of Meerut, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Chauhan spent most of her childhood in various cantonment towns in North India, as her father served in the Indian Army. He took premature retirement at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, migrating to Australia thereafter. She is the youngest of four sisters. Her older sister Nandini Bajpai is also an author.
She did her schooling at the Army Public School, New Delhi, Sophia Girls Convent, Meerut Cantonment and Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, New Delhi. She has a Bachelors degree in economics from Miranda House, Delhi University, and a post graduate diploma in mass communication from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
Chauhan joined JWT in 1993 and in the next seventeen years was responsible for many memorable catchphrases, primarily for Pepsi Cola, India, such as "Yeh Dil Maange More!", "Mera Number kab Aayega","Nothing official about it" and " Oye Bubbly", etc. Other popular catchphrases she worked on include Darr ke Aage jeet Hai for Mountain Dew, Tedha Hai par mera Hai for Kurkure, "Be a Little Dillogical", for Lays Chips and KitKat Break Banta hai for Nestle Kit Kat. By 2003 and at age 33, she had already become one of the youngest vice-presidents in JWT, and was known for her penchant for "simple solution to a complex advertising problem", with clutter-breaking ideas. She features regularly in The Economic Times supplement Brand Equity's list of the ten hottest creative directors in India, and was ranked 26th in the 'creativerankings 2010', a list of the hleading executive creative directors in Asia-Pac.
In August 2010, she resigned from her post of vice-president and executive creative director at JWT, Delhi, where she had worked for 17 years, to pursue a career in writing. However, she still remains active as an advertising consultant and is the only Indian to feature on the prestigious One Show Jury for the year 2011. (The One Show awards, organised by the One Club, New York, are the most coveted advertising awards in the world.)
She started working on her first novel in 2006, writing during her spare time. Having worked on the Pepsi brand for 13 years, closely associated with cricket advertising, led to cricket becoming the setting of her novel about a girl Zoya Singh Solanki, a client service representative with an advertising agency, who becomes a lucky mascot of the Indian cricket team. At the time of its release, The Zoya Factor ran the danger of being dismissed as 'Mills and Boon-ish' but most reviewers were quick to praise the depth of the author's characters, her wicked descriptions and the authenticity of her Hinglish laced dialogue.
She has been hailed as the best chick lit writer in India, but has repeatedly stated that "Chicks are small, brainless, powerless creatures, bred to be eaten. I'm not a chick and I don't write for chicks." The Zoya Factor has won Cosmopolitan Magazine, India's Fun Fearless Female award for literature (2008) and the India Today Woman award for Woman as Storyteller (2009). It was longlisted for the India Plaza Golden Quill (2009). The novel has also been optioned for a film by Shah Rukh Khans Red Chillies Entertainment production company. The option is for three years.
Her much anticipated book, Battle For Bittora, about a 25-year-old Jinni living in Mumbai and working for an animation studio and what happens when she comes back to her hometown, Bittora, at the call of her grandmother, was released in 2010 by actor Saif Ali Khan in Delhi in October 2010, to unanimous critical approval from India Today, Outlook, The Week and Tehelka magazines.
Tehelka called it a "worthy successor to The Zoya Factor." According to Ira Pande, in Outlook magazine, Chauhan 'manages to legitimise a new vocabulary emerging from the violent collision between Bharat and India that has all the promise of a new lingua franca. In the way that Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi and A. R. Rahman have brought a whiff of newness into lyrics and jingles, this new language may outrage purists but describes perfectly memorable Indian sense-impressions, such as Bhainscafe, the brew that marries instant coffee with nauseatingly rich buffalo milk.' The Hindustan Times is its review commended the book for its treatment, while giving the "biggest vote" to novel's characterisation.
The film rights for Battle of Bittora have been purchased by the film production company Saregama for three years for an undisclosed sum.
Her third book, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, set in pre-liberalization India, was released in January 2013 and is the first in a series of novels about the Thakurs of Hailey Road, an upper-middleclass Rajput family of five alphabetically named sisters. Initial sales and reviews have been extremely positive, with the book debuting and staying steady at Number 2 on The Asian Age's Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers list and comparisons to Jane Austen cropping up in every review. Mint scribed her writing style "as a mix of wit and colloquial exuberance and calling her the only Indian writer of popular fiction really worth buying." Tehelka called her, "quite simply, the funniest writer of contemporary popular fiction." While India Today stated that 'beneath the bubble and froth of this delightful novel, lies the starker reality of Delhi life.'
Chauhan has also written the screenplay of a commercial feature film – a love story titled Guppie – mein liar nahi shayar hoon by Nikhil Advani a prominent Bollywood producer/director who directed Kal Ho Na Ho and most recently, Patiala House, starring Akshay Kumar. She is currently writing two more screenplays, one for Anil Kapoor Film Company and one for production studio UTV-Disney.
None of her novels have been published outside India.
Chauhan is married to the noted television presenter and producer, Niret Alva, who has produced popular reality shows like Indian Idol for Sony, Perfect Bride for Star Plus and Roadies for MTV. The two met in Delhi in 1989, during the production of a college play. They married in 1994. Chauhan's mother-in-law is Margaret Alva, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress, the former General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee and the present Governor of the desert state of Rajasthan. Chauhan has two daughters, Niharika Margaret and Nayantara Violet, and a son, Daivik John. The couple moved to Gurgaon, a Delhi-suburb in 2002. Chauhan was featured in Femina magazine's list of the 50 most beautiful women in India in 2011 and in MSN's The Influentials, a list of the top 50 most powerful women in the country. She has been nominated to the L'oreal Paris Femina Women Awards 2013, in the Literary contribution category.
Chauhan converted to Christianity ten years after her marriage.
- The Zoya Factor. 2008. Harper Collins. ISBN 81-7223-748-0.
- Battle For Bittora: The Story Of India's Most Passionate LOK SABHA Contest!. 2010, Harper Collins. ISBN 978-93-5029-002-6.
Those Pricey Thakur Girls (January 2013) HArper-Collins
- "Anuja Chauhan puts in papers at JWT". Economic Times. August 2010.
- "India Today Woman Summit & Awards 2009". India Today. 6 March 2009.
- Fire works Woman, India Today, March 2010.
- "Politics of Passion". Indian Express. 12 October 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- "'Failure helps you keep your feet on the ground'". Rediff.com. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- Venkatraman, Janane (8 July 2013). "Band, Bajaa, Books?". Indian Express.
- Anuja Chauhan, Elvis Sequeira quit JWT Indiantelevision.com Team, 17 August 2010.
- "Cannes cubs roaring to go". The Times of India. 29 September 2003.
- Anuja Chauhan Creativerankings.
- "Maiden Over". Indian Express. 5 July 2008.
- "Review"Droll Connect". Outlook. 22 September 2008.
- "Books: Fortune rookie". Indian Today. 3 July 2008.
- "Booking A Story: Bollywood is now dipping into desi bestsellers for inspiration". Outlook. 21 December 2009.
- "Saif's literary side". Hindustan Times. 16 October 2010.
- Pande, Ira. "Review: Hot Bhainscafe". Outlook.
- "Chicklit goes khadi". Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 42. 23 October 2010.
- "Betting on the ballot". Hindustan Times. 18 December 2010.
- "Love Story". India Today. 9 July 2009.
- "Splashing out". The Telegraph. 21 December 2008.
- "I AM: Anuja Chauhan". The Times of India. 5 April 2010.
- Battle for Bittora, Interview, 2010 at Mint
- Riotous political romp