The Zoya Factor
The Zoya Factor is a novel written by Anuja Chauhan, published by HarperCollins India in 2008. It is about a Rajput girl named Zoya Singh Solanki who meets the Indian Cricket Team through her job as an executive in an advertising agency and ends up becoming a lucky charm for the team for the 2010 Cricket World Cup. Writer Anuja Chauhan started working on her debut novel in 2006, writing during her spare time. Having worked on the Pepsi brand for 13 years at JWT Delhi, where she was Vice President and closely associated with cricket advertising, eventually led to cricket becoming the setting of her novel
Zoya Solanki is a client service rep with an advertising agency, who loves everything about her job especially the brand she has been put in charge of – Zing Cola (Pepsi in a fictional avatar). But when she’s made to leave an ad film shoot, featuring none other than Shah Rukh Khan, and has to go to Dhaka to shoot an ad with the Indian cricket team she begins to experience her first pangs of irritation towards the brand. Making matters somewhat worse, the team captain Nikhil Khoda insists on discipline as a norm and cuts her important shoot short. This causes her to stay back a few more days than anticipated and miss the Shah Rukh Khan film shoot. When the men in blue realise that Zoya was born at the very moment India won the first and the only cricket World Cup in 1983, they are startled. What intrigues them more was when they realised that having breakfast with her is followed by victories on the field, and when not eating with her results in defeat. They decide she is a lucky charm.
As luck would have it, the rag tag team had a sudden spurt of victories and soon the cricket-crazy nation declares her a goddess. Soon, Zoya is invited by the eccentric president of IBCC (Indian Board of Cricket Control, a spoof on BCCI Board of Control for Cricket in India), to accompany the team to the ICC World Cup in Australia.
Pursued by international cricket boards on the one hand, wooed by cola majors on the other, Zoya struggles to stay grounded in the thick of the World Cup action.
And it doesn't help that she keeps clashing with the erratically brilliant new Indian skipper, who tells her flatly that he doesn't believe in luck. What follows is a love-hate relationship; attraction and antagonism. Zoya is luck personified and she never ceases to be the lucky charm for the men-in-blue.
- Zoya Singh Solanki- An advertising agent born on 25 June 1983, at the exact moment that India won the Cricket World Cup who lives in Karol Bagh in Delhi with her father and his three brothers' family. Her father is Vijayendra Singh Solanki and her mother is deceased. Her brother is Zoravar and the housekeeper, Eppa, is like a mom to her. She has a dog called Meeku. She has two aunts, Rinku and Anita, Rinku being her favourite. Her best friend, Monita Mukherjee works at AWB advertising agency with her. Her boss is Sanks. She hates Nikhil Khoda in the beginning but soon a romance begins to blossom between them. Whenever she eats breakfast with the Indian Cricket Team they win the following match. This prompts the board to send her to Australia with them for the Cricket World Cup.
- Nikhil Khoda- The captain of The Indian Cricket Team. Tall, dark, and handsome. He does not believe in luck and in the beginning, thinks that Zoya is a distraction to the team. He believes that hard work and determination are the key to success. He is known to often talk like a Nike ad.
- Monita Mukherjee- Zoya's best friend who accompanies her to Australia for the World Cup. She works at AWB with Zoya, is married to a banker, and has two sons, Armaan and Aman.
- The Indian Cricket Team
The book was well received by the media. It constantly features in the Top 5 of many newspapers in India. The Asian Age ranked it No. 1 for 3 weeks when it was released. According to The Times Of India, "it is a fun read which takes the Indian chick-lit way beyond mush and smut, right to freakily naughty. Her writing is very young, very now and very funny. Her themes of cricket, love and politics are smartly topical." Apart from the novel's subject matter, cricket, that India is obsessed with, what makes the book unique in Indian publishing history is the whopping print run of 20,000 copies at the launch. "It is very unusual for any publisher in India to go in for such a huge print run for a commercial debut novel, but we were confident of The Zoya Factor right at the first time we read hero's [sic?] manuscript," said Hero Heeralal, editor and publisher, HarperCollins Publishers India.
- "Maiden Over". Indian Express. Jul 5, 2008.
- "Authorspeak: 'Nikhil Khoda is not based on MS Dhoni'". CNN-IBN. Sep 24, 2008.
- http://www.televisionpoint.com/news2008/newsfullstory.php?id=1215419762[dead link]
- "Booking A Story: Bollywood is now dipping into desi bestsellers for inspiration". Outlook. Dec 21, 2009.