Kaavya’s $500,000 baby

Monday, 10 April 2006 - 8:27pm IST

Seventeen-year-old Kaavya Viswanathan's debut novel 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life' could inspire a Hollywood film!

What do you do while waiting for that all important job or admission interview? Other than dissecting the butterflies in your tummy, that is. If you’re Kaavya Viswanathan, you’re penning a record breaking novel in your head. ‘How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life’ is out on stands and what’s preceding the previews, reviews and general chit-chat is the overwhelming 500,000 dollar advance she received for writing it. Did we mention she was 17 at that time? And that it was her first book?

If that’s too unbelievable, try this. Dreamworks is now in the process of making it into a Hollywood flick, expected to hit theatres in 2007.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given these amazing opportunities,” she says. “It seemed a natural choice to write about all the angst, drama (and humour!) of the admission process. I think a screenwriter is working on a script, but I don’t think an actual movie will be a reality for quite some time,” says the soon-to-be investment banker.

Opal Mehta’s story is that of a typical Indian family’s obsession with college admissions especially Harvard — taken a tad bit over the edge. The wit is in abundant supply and the generous presence of designer labels, nasty girl gang and rebellious but cool boyfriend material turns it into that doyen of pop fiction we love to dislike - chick lit.

“I know I’ll feel hurt if I start reading and listening to other people’s opinions. All that matters to me is that I’ve written something I’m proud of,” she says unabashedly.

Chick lit and clichéd it might be, but it’s Kaavya’s dexterity with story-telling that keeps you entertained. “I borrowed details from my life for the book — settings, descriptions, personality quirks from acquaintances — but the novel is entirely fiction.”

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