Romance novelist Durjoy Dutta has been in the news recently with his much publicised proposal to long-time girlfriend and fiance, Avantika Mohan. This hard-to-forget public proposal caused a storm on Twitter, with many of his fans tweeting and re-tweeting, ensuring Avantika says ‘Yes!’. The author of romance novels such as Of Course, I Love You and Till I Find Someone Better posted a message for his fans on Twitter, letting them know and seeking help for his plan to propose his girlfriend at the airport.

His plan included holding a placard which read ‘The Love of My Life’ along with a stream of tweets and hashtags, soliloquising his love for Avantika. Here are the series of tweets that Durjoy Dutta sent out during his never-ending wait at the airport.

 

 

Of course, Twitter went crazy with a lot of fans responding to Dutta’s live-tweets:

 

Here we go, she says YES!

 

A happy-ever-after ending, we must say. On this note, here is a throwback of our story with Durjoy Dutta who has charmed his way into the bestseller lists by dominating young adult fiction category with his romantic paperbacks and good looks.

 


“Can U stop being so cute?” “It becomes unbearable sometimes. But can’t help looking at you.” “Cuteness overload.” “Ur gonna kill me by killer luks.” These are just a few of the comments author Durjoy Datta received for an image of himself, frustrated over the long wait for the last episode of the web series Pitchers, on his Facebook page. The page has more than half a million likes and counting; his Twitter and Instagram accounts have 50,000-plus and 29,000-plus followers respectively; he’s called India’s male Barbara Cartland and a sex symbol for teenage girls by publishing houses; his book launches across the country have PYTs screaming out his name and taking selfies with him.

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The kind of breathless female adulation Datta receives is unusual for a bestselling author in India. Datta, who also happens to be a TV screenwriter with production house Beyond Dreams, has sold 100,000 copies in six months of his latest paperback, World’s Best Boyfriend. Mention the Facebook comments to him and he literally blushes. “Now you can stop embarrassing me. I have read those comments,” he says. Datta first tasted success with his debut novel, a college romance titled Of Course I Love You Till I Find Someone Better…, written while pursuing an engineering degree in Delhi, in 2008. He co-wrote it with his friend Maanvi Ahuja, targeting the 16-24 age bracket; the book went on to sell more than 50,000 copies that year. The idea to pen a book was suggested by his blogging community in Delhi, of which he was an active member, with a respectable 200 followers, courtesy his aggressive self-promotion trick. “When I started blogging in 2006, I used to religiously drop links of my blog on scrapbooks of 100 random people on Orkut for four months, till I had a decent following. Orkut even blocked me for weeks, but later unblocked me. They must have realised I wasn’t a creep,” he laughs. His writing skills (and not his rakish looks) upped his social equity in his friends’ circle.

In fact, he was “an extremely shy, quiet and obese 19-year-old”. “Then,I lost weight and made friends with smart people. Girls started noticing me; my blog was being talked about. My long messages to my [then] girlfriend would be flaunted in her group and my friends would ask me to write messages for them,” says Datta. In fact, his other books, like Now That You’re Rich Let’s Fall in Love! and She Broke Up I Didn’t! I Just Kissed Someone Else! borrowed heavily from his and his friends’ experiences of hook-ups and break-ups. “By the sixth book, I had completely run out of inspiration. My readers noticed this and mailed me, saying I was being repetitive with cheeky titles, the same characters set in a college and a storyline that involved campus drama. I had to change gears.”

He surprised his fans with a short story, a psychological thriller called The English Teacher, as well as a love story set in a hospital called Till The Last Breath, among others. In between all this, he worked with Siemens Power and American Express, before quitting to become a full-time writer in 2011 and co-founding a publishing house called Grapevine India. What caught me off-guard was the fact that he had a male dominated readership at the start of his writing career, and his novels received polarising reviews from both sexes. “My [male] protagonists were underdogs. They were shy but cocky, and my male readers could relate to them. They would say, ‘Tu sahi bol raha hai (you’re right).’ In fact, girls hated me and found my storylines off-putting.” What led to the shift, then? He offers an example as an answer. “A girl mailed me saying that when she read one of my books three years ago, she couldn’t go beyond 15 pages. But, then, she gave it a shot now, and understood what I was trying to say. So, I assume she must have had first-hand experiences herself by this time, which she could relate to in the book.”

Durjoy Dutta
Durjoy Dutta
Now that you're rich- Durjoy Dutta
Now that you're rich- Durjoy Dutta
Of course I Love You- Durjoy Dutta
Of course I Love You- Durjoy Dutta
Durjoy Dutta
Durjoy Dutta
Durjoy Dutta
Durjoy Dutta

Datta also feels that lately his female fans have become more vocal about his books, which has possibly led to guys assuming they’re for the opposite sex. Maybe this vocal nature explains the madness at his book launches, which see hundreds of young girls in every city (whether it’s a metro like Delhi or a city like Coimbatore) thronging to the venue just to get a glimpse of Datta. Scroll.in recently ran an article on one of his book launches in Delhi, where 300 people had squeezed into a place meant for 50. “It’s insane. I still remember sweating and blushing during my first book launch in Bengaluru, when they were screaming out my name, because it had never happened to me. I didn’t know what to say when they would come and tell me their phone wallpaper is my photo. It was so awkward.” Though, Datta is grounded enough to take this adulation with a pinch of salt. “Obviously I feel extremely good, but I am also wary of it. It’s happening today, it might not happen tomorrow. So, why get attached to it?”

With all the flattery comes an equal share of criticism, if not more. “I get two types of reviews: point blank ones like, ‘You’re shitty, you should just stop writing,’ and detailed ones which explain why and what they didn’t like. The latter is important to me as I know how I can do better.” Apart from hate mail and love declarations, his mailbox is flooded with relationship queries from both sexes. “Someone will mail saying they had a break-up and what should be the next step. Sometimes I will have no answer to that, because I am going through the same shit myself. Most of the time, my replies are generic. The weirdest ones come from married people who are falling out of love or having extramarital affairs. I choose not to reply those.” Romances might be his claim to fame, but that doesn’t stop him from trying other genres. His next book, scheduled for early 2016, is a “coming-of-age story about a girl who’s trying to understand what it means to be a woman”, followed by a romantic thriller that’s currently in the works. “I don’t think I will completely move away from romance, because my characters spend so much time with each other in the book that they eventually fall in love.”

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