‘Extra-marital affairs have always existed’ says eminent novelist Sundari Venkatraman

In an exclusive interview with Nitish Raj, The Policy Times, the eminent novelist speaks about various shades of romance in teenagers along with various facades of modern literature.

Sundari Venkatraman
Sundari Venkatraman

Sundari Venkatraman is an Indian author who has 31 titles (27 books & 4 collections) to her name, all top 100 bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian drama categories.

In an exclusive interview with Nitish Raj, The Policy Times, the eminent novelist speaks about various shades of romance in teenagers along with various facades of modern literature.

How do you see your journey from reading fairy tales to be a veteran writer of romance?

Sundari Venkatraman: First of all, thank you so much for giving me a platform to air my opinions. To answer your question, I see this journey as one straight line and I have never deviated from my path. I used to read fairy tales as a kid, even as a teenager actually. Romances and these tales merged at some point before romance novels took over. Reading these regularly led to my ultimately penning my own books in the genre.

Why do you choose romance when romance has already lost its essence in this modern material world?

Sundari Venkatraman: That’s one viewpoint. I don’t believe that romance will ever lose its charm, it’s essence as you call it. It also depends on what you mean by romance. Love comprises not only a sexual relationship between a couple. It needs to be unconditional. It’s about trust, letting the other person be. There have been cases of one throwing acid on the face of another because of unrequited love. According to me, this is not loving but the need to possess and control the other person, the very antithesis of romance. And that is exactly what is happening in the modern material world.

Love is all about letting go. If it is yours, it will definitely come back. Love is freedom at its ultimate. And it does exist between couples even today. I am not saying that all find this kind of romance, but many do.

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Today romance is more about eroticism. Is it degrading the essence of romance or has romance taken strides to new avenues which were earlier unheard of?

Sundari Venkatraman: Let me first give here the dictionary meanings of these two words:

Eroticism: sexual desire or excitement

Romance: a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love

As far as I can see, the two of them go hand-in-hand. One can’t survive without the other. If eroticism is degrading, then the birth of a child, which is the result of the physical relationship between a man and a woman, is also degrading. Since the second is not true, logically, the first cannot be true either.

As for the second part of your question, India is the land of the Kama Sutra which is one of the oldest texts. This text is also all about romance and eroticism. Incidentally, it’s also the biggest selling love book in the world, having been translated into many global languages. So, I think it nullifies this part of your question: “Has romance taken strides to new avenues which were earlier unheard of?”

Your book has been featured as a bestseller in Australia. Do you consider it easier to make a mark in a foreign country as compared to your native country?

Sundari Venkatraman: Okay, I think I need to speak a lot more about myself here since this question is not based on the complete picture. First of all, I have 23 romance novels to my name, as against the book that has been mentioned in this question.

Secondly, every single book of mine has topped the charts foremost in India and also in the USA, UK, Australia & Canada.

I don’t know about it being easy to make a mark in a foreign country or in India. What I can tell you is that I work hard, writing, publishing and promoting my books. I am an indie author and take the sole responsibility for the content of my books, vis-à-vis the story, the words used as well as the proofing.

All I can say is that my books have touched the hearts of many readers from the age range of 17 to 86 around the world.

Most of your novels are focused on married couples at the time when romance is centered on young teenagers. What do you think is the main reason behind rising extra-marital affairs among couples?

Sundari Venkatraman: Where is it said or written or maybe there’s some unwritten rule that romance is centered on teenagers? I haven’t come across any such thing and I don’t apologize for that since I think it’s a misconception.

Secondly, my novels are focused on couples of different ages, not necessarily on married ones. I believe in a happily-ever-after relationship after marriage. I have written about couples in their early twenties (Groomnapped, Book #1 of The Groom Series), a twenty-year-old heroine and a hero in his late twenties (The Malhotra Bride, also paperback by Fingerprint Publishing), widow remarriage (The Madras Affair, also paperback by Readomania), romance between a couple who are in their early forties (An Autograph for Anjali). These are just samples. You have to check out all my books to know more.

As for the second part of your question, extra-marital affairs have always existed through time. Even the laws were more lenient, allowing men to have more than one wife, which kind of took away the need for extra-marital affairs. And then there’s the story of Draupadi wedded to all five Pandavas.

In recent years, since the media is more open to publishing gossip columns, the extramarital affairs come to light. I don’t think they have been on the rise because they have always been there. Unless one could say that with the rising population, the proportionate number of extra-marital affairs have increased.

Has romance anything to do with realism or is it just the by-product of literary imagination?

Sundari Venkatraman: Life can be anything for anyone depending on their point of view. For me, romance is real since my husband and I love each other and have had a happy married life since the past 33+ years. That does not mean that we both have never had a difference of opinion or have never argued. But isn’t that a part and parcel of everyday life? Don’t we argue with our parents or pick fights with our siblings? Does that mean we leave them or deny the relationship? Is that even possible?

I would use the same rule of thumb for a romantic relationship. If you want to run away at the drop of the hat, it means you are running scared and don’t have the guts to stand and face the situation. Ultimately, can one run from oneself?

Believe me, the adage ‘facts are stranger than fiction’ holds good in romantic situations too.

What would you suggest to teenagers on love and romance?

Sundari Venkatraman: To be truthful, I think teenagers are too young for love and romance. This is the age for infatuation, exploring relationships, having a crush on a film actor or sports personality, or even someone you know. This can be passing or may develop into love at a later stage.

The commitment of love or romance can be too much pressure on a teenager.