Trust Anuja Chauhan to bring a breath of freshness to a room and that's what she did when she walked in with a wide smile in an orange sari and sleeveless blouse at IdeaPod. Despite waiting for her for an hour at the newly launched coworking space at Sudder Street, we followed her eclectic aura and listened to her fun and spirited conversation. Post her session, anchored by IdeaPod owner Rachna Prasad, with a select audience, we caught up with the advertising expert and author who shared with us why she thinks the hybrid working model is a win-win situation for all and why she loves working on her bed. Excerpts:
After how many years are you coming back to Kolkata?
I am coming here after the pandemic, so after three years. I was here last time for a literary festival.
Our working ecosystem has changed drastically with deals being cracked in a coffee shop and boardroom meetings taking place in open spaces. What are your comments?
The pandemic has changed us and the entire work eco-system for good. People have tasted blood and it’s productive; a lot of employees are liking it. It’s quite a win-win situation for all and hence a great idea. I worked for 17 years in a corporate space and then I went straight to be a nightie aunty. (Laughs) All day I used to be in my nightie. I remember I was so excited by this new set up that one day, right after I quit my job I put a big photograph of my four-poster bed on Facebook and my friends were like, “Anuja, what are you doing? Why are you putting up pictures with you on the bed? What kind of field you have entered in…” Basically they were like why are you working on your bed? What are you doing for a living? But I like working on my bed; in the basement, in the garden. I love working at home.
You are essentially a creative person; do you think you can work in a café?
I can write anywhere… may be I can write in a café for a while but I have to be horizontal so I might end up occupying the whole sofa at the café. But yeah, I like working on my bed more.
Your last book was a thriller and the next one too is a continuation of that. How has it been exploring this new genre?
Yes, I am working on the sequel of Club You To Death and it follows the detective Bhavani Singh that is being played by Pankaj Tripathi in the screen adaptation. So, same detective with a new crime to solve.
I wouldn’t call Club You To Death a real thriller; it’s a cosy crime just like Agatha Christie’s. So it’s not dark and gritty but an old-fashioned whodunit that you would enjoy reading with a cup of hot chocolate.
A few of your books have been adapted on the screen. Do you look for anything particular in a filmmaker because a lot of trust is involved in the process.
I think a movie is a director’s baby; it’s a different animal. A book is driven by a writer’s vision while a movie is driven by a director’s and I believe in stepping away and letting the director lead.
That’s quite liberal.
You can’t really do anything and end up being a hated person on the sets if you interfere. If someone wants my version then they should read my book; every word is there because I wanted it to be there in the purest form. I can’t take credit for the film because it’s not mine.
What are you currently watching?
I don’t like watching thrillers much though I watched Knives Out and quite like it because it’s a cosy crime. Also, I loved Only Murders in the Building which is a clean genre. I know there's some great shows like Delhi Crime Season 2 was good… but it’s not something that I could write. I think I like a bit of sunshine. I am not hot on the dark ones.
I am working on a rom-crom and it’s tentatively called Fast Can Be Fatal. It will come out probably next year.