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Passage to India

NEETI SARKAR
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book Milan Vohra, the first Indian author of Mills & Boon romances, talks about her novel The Love Asana

Moonlight and roses Milan Vohra
Moonlight and roses Milan Vohra

H arlequin Enterprises, publisher of the innumerable romance novels, has come closer to the hearts of Indian women with the launch of “The Love Asana” by the first ever Indian Mills & Boon author, Milan Vohra.

Despite her recent rise to fame, the 45-year-old author claims her life is rather unaltered. “The only thing that's changed post M& B is that my protagonist, Pari, has inspired me to get my nose pierced,” Milan laughs.

An advertising professional in Bangalore, Milan made it big when she participated in the short story writing contest ‘Passions — Aspiring Author Auditions' announced by Harlequin Mills & Boon.

“A friend of mine forwarded an email about the competition to me and I wrote my story at frantic pace trying to meet the deadline.” After several interactions with the publisher, she developed her story into a full-fledged book that hit the marquee last month.

Milan devoured her first M&B novel when she was a teenager. The thing she loves most about these books is that they are easy reads and provide a great way to balance all the varied reading she does.

Ask her what it takes to be an author of the books she's come to love and she replies: “It's the ability not to take oneself or life too seriously. For the die-hard romantic that I am, my belief in happy endings is deep rooted.”

Being an ad person, writing was in any case an integral part of her life, and thus didn't involve any struggle. “The real challenge came when I had to meet with the publishing people and discuss my plot with them. Considering love stories of the West are radically different from those that happen in India, making them see the Indian perspective was challenging as much as it was exciting. They couldn't get their heads around stuff like a guy in his late 20s being seen with his mom.”

“The Love Asana” is a journey of love, revenge, sacrifice and realisation by Pari Dewan and Vivan Parasher. “The story is set in New Delhi and the characters who are Indian meet in a yoga studio. Typically Indian societal features such as the characters being family oriented, the wedding taking place in a traditional style with the bride's hand adorned with mehendi and her husband's name hidden in the design, are all a part of my book.”

Staying uniquely Indian yet international was important. “Yoga being a prominent element of Indian culture and heritage yet internationally embraced was a good medium to introduce the Pari and Vivan,” she believes.

But how far has she veered off the typical M&B track? The author feels: “People like M&B books for what they've always stood for—the romance, the conflict between the two main characters and the resolution.” Milan says it doesn't matter if people consider Mills & Boon frivolous. “The truth is they are well known and universally loved. Also, as long as one writes something that is worth reading, one shouldn't waste time wondering what people think!”

NEETI SARKAR

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