Narrating a Travelling Tale

Journalist-writer Ashok Banker, talks about the experience of penning a mythological fiction and why research holds the key for a good story.

Published: 17th November 2014 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th November 2014 02:29 PM   |  A+A-

Kamal-Haasan

CHENNAI: Frenzied crowds greeted Ulaganayagan Kamal Haasan as he launched Mumbai-based author-journalist Ashok K Banker’s historical fiction Ten Kings amid much fanfare at My Fortune Chennai (formerly referred to Hotel Chola Sheraton) on Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion, Banker said that the book was based on a portion of the Rig Veda, besides dealing with the life of Sudasa and his clan. He said, “The Indian mythology has an amazing collection of stories that have inspired people over the centuries worldwide. What I am doing may be a drop in the ocean, but still it will go a long way in presenting mythology related stories with more relevance to the youth.”  Kamal Haasan congratulated Banker for having chosen a subject that entailed in-depth research and hardwork. Soaking in all the attention, he said holy epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana are being remembered even today not because of religious factors, but since many people re-narrate them. “Any story has to be re-narrated. But whether to mythologise or not — that depends on an individual,” he added.

Banker firmly believes that honest emotions are necessary to pen a book. His much-awaited Ten Kings, based on the historical battle of Dasarajna who faced 10 foes in battle, in Rig Veda, has just been released. The mythology man tells CE what gets him up, and what keeps him going.

Epic Experiment

Writing is more of experimentation. I neither change the original story, characters nor sequence of events/details. I dramatise in a way that these tales are made more appealing and credible to the present-day readers. Certain epics would be detailed in some parts and not so detailed in others. So I had to bring in balance to the narrative. Especially, the way of writing for that matter. It’s neither academic nor commentary.

Mythology Fixation

Epics and mythology have fascinated me since my childhood. I think both hold a special place in every culture’s folklore. As a kid, I was reading Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama. I realised I wanted to read and know more. That was the spark. Before you ask me if I am spiritual or religious, I can say I am neither this nor that. I don’t espouse anyone’s religion or faith. I chose to write about epics out of my own interest. 

More on Ten Kings

I am allergic to commercial motivation unlike other authors and I am genuinely interested in bringing out untold stories without compromising on authenticity.

I have had breaking front-page news stories, including the Kargil War in 1999, to my credit. And I know what it takes to be being objective and fair. What lures me is the story, not the commercial element. I don’t believe in churning out ‘trash or awful stories’. So, I had to put in a lot of effort before my book got published. The kind of research work that has gone into it is vast. I had to refer to the possible versions and translations available. I began to write Ten Kings in 2007 and completed it in 2009. But these four years, I have been revising it. I even spotted a couple of errors before publishing. You see, it’s no joke to write a novel of 340 pages based on Rig Veda.

Fiction to historical fiction...

Ah, not easy. It’s tough to get publishers in the first place. That too, when you come up with mythology-related stuff. In general, the problem is mostly multinational publishers are busy reprinting foreign titles, so the focus is less on the Indian authors.

Next in Line

Doing another historical novel based on King Ashoka. I am hoping that it should be out in 2015.

The Hindi version of Ten Kings is already out. The book is being planned to be translated in Tamil, Telugu and Marathi soon.

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