Arushi Avachat on her debut YA rom-com, Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment

"my big idea was that I wanted this novel to read like a Bollywood drama"


With its Bollywood structure, adorable romance and scenes that will make you both laugh and cry, Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment, the debut YA rom-com from Arushi Avachat is a must for anyone looking to add a little fun and drama to the new year. To celebrate its release, we caught up with Arushi to talk all things Bollywood, 2023 reading favourites and of course, Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment.

Hi Arushi! It’s great to have you on the site today to celebrate the release of your debut novel, Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment. For readers who may be hearing about the book for the first time, how would you best describe it to them?

Thank you for having me! Arya is a Young Adult rom-com that follows high school senior Arya Khanna whose life gets a Bollywood spin after her older sister gets engaged. In between shaadi planning, Arya must navigate friend group drama, mediating family fights, and a burgeoning romance with her longtime rival, student body president Dean Merriweather. It’s a cross between the Bollywood dramas of my childhood and the Meg Cabot / Sarah Dessen novels I devoured throughout high school. Perfect for fans of Never Have I Ever, Gilmore Girls, Polite Society, and Save the Date!

Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind the story?

In ninth grade, I wrote a short story about two sisters and their relationship with their mother that I felt deeply attached to. I wanted to spin the story into a novel, and my big idea was that I wanted this novel to read like a Bollywood drama. To me, that immediately meant a shaadi backdrop and lots of messy family dynamics. Also, as an English major and an enormous Jane Austen fan, writing a Pride and Prejudice style rivals-to-friends-to-lovers romance felt so exciting. Everything slowly spiralled from there!


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Arya’s love for Bollywood movies plays a huge part in the novel. Do you share this passion with her and if so, do you think that’s influenced your way of storytelling at all?

Oh, absolutely. My talents include being able to recite the Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham screenplay (and basically any late 90s / early 2000s SRK film) from memory. Something I love about Hindi cinema is how big and dramatic (if a little ridiculous) our romance movies always are. I think this practice pairs so well with the tradition in Young Adult literature of making space for the big, dramatic feelings of girlhood, and I had so much fun bridging two of my favorite creative mediums. I also loved adding in a cinematic structure to the novel—the acts, intermission sequence, and closing credits shot all felt so fitting and fresh.

Arya is no stranger to big celebrations. With that in mind, how do you think she would have welcomed in the new year?

She would definitely be required to spend New Year’s at a family function with the irksome Deepti Aunty and company. Now that Alina’s back home, however, I think the two sisters would have managed to find levity and entertainment in the evening’s antics. Midnight texts to Dean, Andy, Lisa, and Emilia would also be in order!

Thinking back over the past year; did you have any standout 2023 reads you think should be on everyone’s reading list?

Yes! For YA, I loved Ananya Devarajan’s Kismat Connection, Farah Naz Rishi’s It All Comes Back To You, and Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club. In Adult, I’ll never stop recommending Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters trilogy! I also finally read (and wept through) Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us, which I haven’t stopped shoving down all my loved one’s throats since I finished. Just read with tissues.

Finally, are you currently working on anything new and if so, is there anything you can share with us?

I’m on contract for a second Young Adult novel with Wednesday Books! I’m hoping to draft it as my English honors thesis before I graduate UCLA in the spring. I can’t wait to share more soon. 🙂

Get your copy of Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment by Arushi Avachat here

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