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‘I don’t over indulge in scenes now,’ says Durjoy Datta

Durjoy Datta, his book ‘The boy with a broken heart’  

What’s good to know about author Durjoy Datta is his self-assurance, he’s under no illusion of writing a magnum opus when he sets out to write a love story. He feels it’s a manipulative hook to keep a reader interested through the narrative. His latest is The Boy With a Broken Heart, a sequel to his earlier book The Boy Who Loved. Durjoy is often detached from his characters; though he wrote this book immediately after the first one, he found it tough to get back into their mental setup again.

Doesn’t the boy-meets-girl space exhaust him creatively as a writer? “In the last four or five books, the love story happens mostly in the end. I just play out the tropes in the fourth and fifth draft when I know that these are hooks that keep people interested.” At an interaction at Landmark in the city, he says The Boy With a Broken Heart would work even if one takes out the romance between Brahmi and Raghu and make them best friends. “Nothing would change in the novel. It was just a way to market a story.”

‘I don’t over indulge in scenes now,’ says Durjoy Datta

The protagonists in this series experience a sense of loss in the earlier part of the books. He says the similarity wasn’t intentional. “Thank God I’m not going through that phase!” he laughs. He ideated this book in a lighter vein, but it ended up the other way around. “That’s how our lives mostly are. The happier moments seem fleeting and flippable, somehow it doesn’t excite me. The earlier books were very rom-com like so everytime I try to pull a wisecrack and make it funny, I realise it’s something I’ve done before.”

A major development in the later half of his writing career is the stories tend to be more about the families than the couple. It’s only a bid to not repeat myself, he insists. “I don’t think they’ve become more real, my books are still pegged as love stories, which is okay. A lot of family comes in my stories now and of course, a lot of problems.” He doesn’t translate this to his maturity as a writer merely because his novels have gotten serious and atmospheric. “I don’t over indulge in scenes now, but it’ll be very embarrassing to say that I’ve not improved as a writer in the last 10 years.”

Despite his titles being cliched and archaic, they’ve made smart marketing sense. He doesn’t take them too seriously though. “My first few titles were the only ones that came with some novelty, the other ones were generic titles, they are words that first come to your mind when you write a love story.” His first publisher wanted 19 characters in his title. He didn’t object because he was too young to interfere, but he found the title of his third book most ridiculous — She Broke up, I didn’t. “It worked though. Commercial fiction was just becoming the big thing, people were wondering what was this all about.”

There’s nothing evergreen about romance, he feels; it’s clutch of authors coming out with books that sell and the same readers buying them again. “There are only writers who’ve kept a hold over their audience. The pricing also plays a key factor here, that my novels come with a lower price holds a bigger challenge.” He outgrew the ‘must have’ elements in a rom-com that many felt were the reasons for his success — a subtitle, intimate scenes, a guy in an engineering college.

Does the fact that he has his own reader base make him more relaxed? “As an author in India, you can’t ever say you’re relaxed, there is no minimum guarantee here. I was more relaxed in my initial books, writing was only a secondary thing and pocket money. Now it’s my career, I can’t afford to slip.”

All the feedback he gets from each book turns hazy, “My wife reads my novels too, but she’s not a test audience, it’s not fair to judge one lakh audience from it.”

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 6:35:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/author-durjoy-datta-on-his-novel-the-boy-with-a-broken-heart/article23363780.ece

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