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Author interview

Books give me the freedom to do anything that I want: Durjoy Datta

The ‘When I am With You’ author on writing novels, recreating romance, importance of childcare and the true meaning of ‘happily ever after’

Subhadrika Sen | Published 04.11.22, 06:34 PM

Video: Arijit Sen

The queue of fans at the iconic Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, extended well beyond the entrance and onto Park Street when author Durjoy Datta came calling on October 28 to talk about his latest book, When I am with You. Not surprisingly, Datta has earned the name of literary heartthrob. 

My Kolkata caught up with the bestselling author on the sidelines of a meet-and-greet session that was part of a countrywide tour in association with Penguin Random House India. Excerpts from the chat…


My Kolkata: Please tell us something about your latest book — When I am With You.

Durjoy Datta: When I am with You is basically a story of two young people who have had dysfunctional childhoods and now are trying to recreate a part of their childhood as adults. Of course, one person is doing it in a very outward way by starting a nursery of her own. The other guy is doing it, but that’s not very obvious. 

The book explores Aishwarya, who is championing single motherhood and independence while Dhiren invests his money in cryptocurrency — both very contemporary themes but very different from each other.  How did the thought of exploring two such different worlds come to you?

I think in most of my books I pick up topics that I feel strongly about. So, childcare is something I feel strongly about at the moment because I have a five-year-old daughter and I realise that for the first five years of a child’s life, one of the parents needs to step back and their career takes a major hit if they are in a high-pressure job where every year is important. So, I think childcare is absolutely essential and should be accessible to everyone. I got really interested in cryptocurrency a couple of years ago and then lost a lot of money in it! 

Fans of the author at the meet-and-greet session at Oxford Bookstore in Park Street

Fans of the author at the meet-and-greet session at Oxford Bookstore in Park Street

Photos: Arijit Sen

You have written novels, television shows and short stories. Which format do you personally prefer and why?

I like writing books the most. Just because of the freedom it gives me; it’s your own thing more than anything else. Even, say, audio books at the end of the day are in someone else’s voice plus and then there is music in it… so it is not completely your thing, although it’s still closer to books. In TV shows, of course, there are many stakeholders and every stakeholder is as important as the writer. What appears on screen is often very different from what you set out to write. So, books give me the freedom to do anything that I want to. 

Each one of your books lends a different definition of romance. Do you think that ‘happily ever after’ truly exists in real life?

It definitely does! It depends on how you define ‘happily ever after’. Say 100 years ago when people used to live till 30-35, happily ever after would be 10 years. Now the challenge is that the love should sustain for the next 50 years. People do see new love as flippant and trivial, not realising that there are so many challenges involved. You have to fall in love with someone, preferably before 30, and then stay in love for the next 50 years. That is what the general idea of love is. 

Durjoy interacts with fans at the event

Durjoy interacts with fans at the event

As an author, do you find it challenging to recreate the elements of romance differently in each of your books?

I do because there are only so many things partners can say to one another. But I also believe the little things and the mundane things that you do every day can also showcase love in a way. So, I have found my comfort in that rather than grand gestures that my earlier characters used to do very often. So, now I step back from it. Because I don’t do it anymore. So, it’s slightly alienating for me as well to write about those things.

A reader gets her copy autographed

A reader gets her copy autographed

Sometime ago, there was a fun debate between you and Ravinder Singh over marriage and love. Having been married successfully and happily for some time, what is the secret of a real-life happy relationship? 

Okay… don’t ask anyone this question (laughs) because ‘nazar lagti hain’

I have been married for only six years now. I mean this question should be answered by someone who is married for like 50 years. But I have read in a book by Alain de Botton, The Course of Love, that the trick to staying married is to just not leave. Of course, not in cases of abusive or toxic marriages. You get married because you want it to become a little difficult to leave and that’s why you call so many people and make a big deal out of it, you make a commitment, etc. Because you know that if I don’t do this, it will be very easy for me to leave. That sort of somehow makes sense to me. 

What is Durjoy Datta the husband and Durjoy Datta the father like?

DD: Durjoy Datta the husband is I think a solid 6.5 out of 10. Durjoy Datta the father would be 9/ 9.5 out of 10. 

Last updated on 04.11.22, 06:34 PM

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