|Born||17 September 1970
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
Anuja Chauhan (Hindi: अनुजा चौहान; born 1970) is an Indian author and advertiser, often described as 'the best writer of the Indian commercial fiction genre.' 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".</ref>
As a writer, she is best known for her best-selling, contemporary "rom-com" novels, The Zoya Factor (2008), Battle For Bittora (2010), Those Pricey Thakur Girls (2013), The House That BJ Built (2015) and "Baaz" (2017)
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: Padmini, Rohini, Nandini, and Anuja. 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 bachelor's 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 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 leading 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.) Recently, she has started working on brand Pepsi again, as a consultant for the Power of One team at JWT.
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, "The Zoya Factor", about a girl Zoya Singh Solanki, a client service representative with an advertising agency, who becomes the 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 was optioned for a film by Shah Rukh Khans Red Chillies Entertainment production company. The option was for three years.Subsequently, the rights were purchased by Pooja Shetty Deora's Walkwater Films.
Her much anticipated book, Battle For Bittora, about 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 were purchased by the film production company Saregama for three years for an undisclosed sum. They were then sold to Anil Kapoor Film Company. A film starring Fawad Khan and Sonam Kapoor, produced by Rhea Kapoor has been announced. Shooting will commence in November 2015.
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.'
The TV rights for the book were purchased by Zee Entertainment Network. They have converted it into a daily soap, titled Dilli Wali Thakur Girls, running on &TV, starring Sukirti Kandpal and Aamir Ali and produced by Cinevistaas.
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.
In early 2015, she moved from her long-time publishers HarperCollins India, to Westland, a publishing house known for repping the largest-selling Indian authors, to 'try something new and reach out to more people.' The parting from Harper was 'cordial' and they continue to publish her backlist, though it is rumoured that she may move that too.
The trailer for "The House that BJ Built" was launched on May 15, 2015. India Today said 'Chauhan is at the top of her game as she explores love and real estate in Delhi
It's a funny, feisty novel, with her trademark, exuberant, golgappa dialogue-Hindi deliciously spooned and scooped into English to tart it up-in place and some moments that you at once recognise as pure Bollywood."
LiveMint's review of the book said "The House That BJ Built gives its readers, and its characters, exactly what they paid for."
She returned to Harpercollins India for her fifth novel 'Baaz' (1st May, 2017) a passionate tale of love and war set in 1971, at a fictitious Indian Air Force Base loosely modelled on Kalaikunda, in West Bengal. Loved for her lead male characters, all of whom have a huge fan following, Anuja has stated that this latest hero Shaanu, aka Baaz, aka Flying Officer Ishaan Faujdaar, a jat boy from rural Haryana, is her favorite so far. There was concern that the 'chick-lit queen' was punching above her weight with this grim setting, and would not be able to handle the high-adrenalin, all-boys world of the IAF - but reviews and sales seem extremely positive. India Today declared that 'wartime love to Bollywood masala, this new novel has it all.' Kaveree Bamzai called it a cracker of a thriller' and 'finally, a book worthy of the war during which it is set.' While The Hindu stated that 'you can smell both gun powder and romance in the air,' and praised 'the subtle commentary on the socio-political complexity of the times (which) keeps the reader close to ground reality.' Online reviewers celebrated the fact that, despite the war-setting, the book is vintage Chauhan and as 'laugh-out-loud funny and toe-curling sexy' as anything she has written previously. There is serious interest from Bollywood, as the book, though set in 1971, is uncannily prescient. Its themes of hyper-nationalism and liberal pacifism are very current. At a launch event in Jaipur, the publishers stated that Baaz, a book about war, seems to have set off a bidding war. No studio has been finalised so far.
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 former 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.
- The House That BJ Built (May 2015) Westland. ISBN 978-93-85152-18-4
- "Anuja Chauhan puts in papers at JWT". Economic Times. August 2010.
- "India Today Woman Summit & Awards 2009". India Today. 6 March 2009.
- "'Failure helps you keep your feet on the ground'". Rediff.com. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
- Fire works Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Woman, India Today, March 2010.
- 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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-23.
- "Maiden Over". Indian Express. 5 July 2008. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012.
- "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. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011.
- "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.
- Dilli Wali Thakur Girls
- "Love storey on Hailey Road". The Times of India.
- "Book Review: The House That BJ Built". LiveMint.
- "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
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/baaz-anuja-chauchan-romance-novel-1971-war-indian-air-force-lifest/1/947657.html http://www.dailyo.in/arts/anuja-chauhan-baaz-india-bangladesh-war/story/1/16935.html https://scroll.in/article/836114/anuja-chauhans-new-romance-will-raise-heartbeats-for-more-than-one-reason-theres-a-war-thrown-in http://www.thehindu.com/books/i-love-writing-about-the-coolest-thing/article18389381.ece http://www.blush.me/unwind/blushverdict-anuja-chauhans-baaz-engaging-unputdownable-war-tale/