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Sunday, November 28, 2021

‘Look at Preeti from Kabir Singh, where is the flawed and fiery?’: Author Anuja Chauhan on getting female characters right

Anuja Chauhan's novel Those Pricey Thakur Girls has been adapted as web series Dil Bekaraar. Starring Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Sahher Bambba and Akshay Oberoi, it'll stream on Disney Plus Hotstar on November 26.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: November 26, 2021 10:45:36 am
dil bekaraar anuja chauhanDil Bekaraar is set in 1980s. (Photos: Instagram/anuja.chauhan and Disney Plus Hotstar)

Writer Anuja Chauhan thinks Dil Bekaraar is so far the best adaptation of her work. Based on her novel Those Pricey Thakur Girls, the web series has a laid-back setting of Delhi from 40 years ago, that’s struggling to shed the past, and is still few years away from liberalisation. It is set to premiere on Disney Plus Hotstar on November 26.

“I wrote this book in 2010 when this entire concept of 80s nostalgia wasn’t even a thing. After 3-4 years people started talking about DD and those shows. Now in 2021 I feel the need to clarify that I was here first, I’m not riding a trend, I created a trend,” Anuja Chauhan told indianexpress.com when asked whether the show’s nostalgic value will become an advantage.

Dil Bekaraar is a light-hearted drama that showcases the day-to-day life of the Thakur family as they battle their ideological conflicts in the times of telegrams, telephones, and Gold-Spot, with dollops of yesteryear references of RD Burman, Nazia Hassan, and even Hum Log.

Anuja said the story revolving around five sisters got a bigger canvas to portray their trajectory. “Those Pricey Thakur Girls is that kind of book, with so many sisters, so many characters that it demanded space. I’m glad that we have that.”

The writer however agreed that weaving the stories of five sisters, each one with their own individual graph was challenging. She said the way female energy bounces off each other and little dynamics come into play was “written from deep knowledge rather than deep mathematics”.

“I have sisters, aunts, nieces. I’m writing with that authority. But when I gave the first draft to my husband, he said I’m so confused, and I don’t know who is who. Then I thought I’ll name them alphabetically,” she revealed.

Dil Bekaraar stars actors Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Sahher Bambba, Akshay Oberoi, Padmini Kohlapure, Chandrachur Singh and others. In the trailer, we saw Sahher as a DD news reader while Akshay plays a journalist. The audience gets a glimpse of their sweet 80s romance, but their love life soon gets into trouble when Sahher finds out that Akshay was the one who wrote a bad review about her in his newspaper.

 

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Dil Bekaraar happens to be second adaptation of Those Pricey Thakur Girls. It was previously made into a TV show titled Dilli Wali Thakur Girls (2015) on &TV. Anuja said the creative team of the Disney Plus Hotstar series gave her confidence that they’ll keep the vibe of the original story intact without negotiating with the period the story is set in. “They got the little detailing right. They’ve even put in some very cute things which I hadn’t written and I really love that,” she shared.

But how important does it become for the showrunners to keep the writer in the loop before taking any cinematic liberties? Anuja says it’s better to always circle back to the author. However, clinging onto it in not a good idea. “It’s good to be there for them, but you have to hand the baby over. You can’t keep sticking to the baby. Get involved only when someone comes to you for consultation. Hotstar came to me when they were stuck and needed clarity. So that was a good place to be in rather than poking your nose all the time.”

Being all in for supporting female characters who are strong, flawed and fiery in her books, Anuja had her opinion too. She said, “A girl should be like that. You see those films where you have to leave your brain at home like some Preeti from Kabir Singh. Where is the flawed and fiery there?”

 

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Anuja Chauhan has also been involved with some films as a screenplay writer including Arjun Kapoor-starrer Sardar Ka Grandson feels a book is any day better as the writer has full power with no roadblocks like budgets, studio et al. Anuja’s book The Zoya Factor was previously adapted into a movie by the same name starring Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan. Her other work Battle of Bittora was also in the works, but is on hold. She said, “Battle of Bittora shouldn’t happen right now, not for another 10 years given the current political scenario.”

Anuja also picked her other work which she felt are apt for adaptations. “I think Baaz is beautiful. It’s like a cinematographer’s delight. It is about an Air Force fighter pilot in 1971. Which is why very consciously I gave the rights to Yash Raj Films because YRF has that amount of money, muscle and passion, and Baaz needs swagger. Maddock has the rights to Club You To Death. It’s a murder mystery. I think they will do that well because they do black humour and suspense, fun and romance very nicely.”

Stating that Dil Bekaraar has all her heart, she concluded sharing her reaction when she saw the series. “You start watching it with your heart in your mouth because you’re so worried. But, by the middle of third episode I settled down quite happily into it. I’m very happy.”

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