nitish bhushan

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

Nothing would hound me more than this line from the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare, after I had finished writing my first novel and was still struggling for its name! What’s in a name – in this line, the bard is conveying that the naming of things is irrelevant. Now you may agree with him, or not. I did not. Why? Well, let me tell you a story.

I was sitting with my relatives and we were debating the name of my novel. When I was writing it, I wrote it under the name ‘I Love Only You Vandana’. It was more like a project name, a code name, kind of those given to secret military operations. Why a code name? Because quite honestly, yours truly had not figured out the name even after writing the novel, let alone while scripting it. So the idea was to write it under a file name, and figure out the print / publish name later!  

I wanted my novel to be counted amongst the best thriller novels by Indian writers. The first thing about any novel is the name. Some people say it is the cover. Let the argument continue on that. Well in my case, there is a story behind the cover also. But for now, we will focus only on how we came by the novel’s name.

A three-word dismissal was heaped by Aditya on the first nineteen names that we listed. “Mills and Boons,” he said. I protested. “You have written a mystery thriller. Do you want your work to be counted amongst the Indian suspense thriller novels, or some other genre?” he retorted to my protest, and continued, “I thought you wanted to be counted amongst Indian thriller writers, and not Indian drama authors. There is nothing wrong in being a romantic drama author, but I do not think that is the genre of your work.”  

Let me share some of those nineteen names – ‘Secret Temptations’, ‘Love Temptations Blackmail’, ‘Love, Secrets Blackmail’, ‘The Seduction of Love’, ‘It Won’t Keep Us Away’, and more. So you see we were very close to the name we finally chose, and yet so far!

Nineteen names, such a colossal waste of intellectual effort. So, we set at it again. “Suggest a name that suggests what the novel is about,” said Nitin. Again, we came very close. We coined ‘Love Swipe Love’, and kept it in a short list. The ladies in our group, however, were not keen on this name. So we re-thought. My wife’s sister-in-law suggested ‘Swiping Temptations’. We all liked it. This also made it to the short list. Then I suggested something the ladies hated me for and the boys laughed and loved me for – ‘The Ding-Dong Project’. Terrible battles ensued, pitched battles between the ladies and us laddies. Nitin started singing ‘ding-dong, o baby sing a song’ from the movie ‘Hero’. Now if we necessarily had to keep ‘Ding-Dong’ my wife suggested ‘The Ding-Dong Affair’. She said ‘affair’ made it sound more respectable than ‘project’. Project, she said, sounded dumb!

It was around that time, that my wife’s sister-in-law suggested Love Swipe Blackmail. And we all fell silent. What I wrote was a mystery thriller, with a dose of love, dollops of friendship, dating app and of course blackmail. I think that sealed the deal. We all agreed on Love Swipe Blackmail. ‘The Ding-Dong Affair’ though, lingered on in our collective minds, humouring us, of course! Maybe another novel, another time.

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