It’s not every day that one gets to see hundreds of Indian girls between the ages of 16 and 24, all dressed as if for a first date, break into a riot for the sight of a writer. And yet it’s a scene so common for Durjoy Datta, 28-year-old author of romance fiction who’s as adored for his rakish looks as he is for capturing the pulse of young India, that he can only look at it with distracted amusement.
The female adulation had started with the very first novel Datta wrote as a 21 year old, Of Course I Love You …! Till I Find Someone Better, the title unveiling the code of love in contemporary India. It grew manically as he went on to write one paperback after another drawing from the world of hookups and breakups around him: Now That You’re Rich!; She Broke Up, I Didn’t!; Ohh Yes, I Am Single!, You Were My Crush… With every new book, there were more Facebook friend requests, more likes on his gym selfies, more declarations of undying love on the fan pages.
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Datta’s good looks and their effect on young female readers are now at the core of marketing strategies for his books. Just after the release of his last book, When Only Love Remains, he asked his female fans to post selfies with their copies of the book on his Facebook page.
To promote his latest novel, World’s Best Boyfriend, the marketing team of his publisher Penguin Random House organised a contest in participation with the dating website OK Cupid, whose winner is shortly to enjoy exclusive online time with Datta.
At the Delhi launch of the book at the Oxford Bookstore last week, his editor described him to me as “hardworking”. Not every writer, she implied, could go on a 14-city tour, each swarming with hundreds of fans dying to tell him how much they loved him, and not complain once of exhaustion.
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I asked her what she liked the most about the book. “His dimples,” she said without wasting a second. For a group of 16-year-olds from a posh Delhi school, the most amazing about Datta’s writing was that he seemed to have “experience of love and relationship. He really knows what goes inside a girl’s head.” Also, they added, he was “very cute, damn hot.”
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The collective cry of “Marry me!” that followed was so loud that the representative from the publishing house had to call for complete silence. The girls were asked to organise themselves in a queue for “book signing and selfie” with Datta.
The anticipation of being up and close with Datta was ripe enough by this time that instead of lining up in a neat order, the crowd broke into a scramble, arms and legs flying about in every direction. In the middle of the mayhem, original groups reformed and plotted strategies to get to the front. “See, you are short, so you will not be noticed squeezing your way to the stage,” the girl standing next to me advised her friend.
Link to the rest at Scroll.in and thanks to Dave for the tip.