You’ve been working in finance for a while. What inspired you to write a book? Yes, I’ve been in finance for a while. But it has nothing to do with the book, which is a completely different part of my life. I have to admit; I am as surprised as anyone else that I’ve actually managed to write a book. I guess it is Lord Shiva’s blessings.
Why the mythological fantasy genre? And why Shiva, in particular? My family and I were watching TV together and there was an interesting historical programme being broadcast. They described how one group saw the other as evil and it drove them to frenzy in their battles and led to their eventual success.
This triggered an interesting conversation.
We were quite sure the losing side also saw the other as evil.
Now both the groups cannot be right, can they? So who is evil? Both the groups? Neither? But what can’t be denied is that evil does exist. It rises again and again. And it has to be destroyed. And hence I started writing the present novel with a hero whose journey conveys the philosophies. And since the story is about the destruction of evil, who better to be the hero than the destroyer of evil himself, Lord Shiva! Your book seems to be very well researched. Any interesting sources that you can tell us about? On the historical data, I didn’t do any specific research for this book. In fact, another way of looking at it could be that I have been researching this book for the last 25 years! Because I’ve always been deeply interested in history. Some of the books that have helped in the historical interpretations for my book are Graham Hancock’s path-breaking Underworld and Gregory Possehl’s brilliant treatise, The Indus Civilisation. As for our collective Hindu myths, I’ve depended a lot on what I heard from my family over the years. And of course, the Amar Chitra Katha comics have been a fantastic source.
Have you plotted out the entire story line for the trilogy al ready? Or are you just going to go with the flow? You are right. There is a flow to these things and it is best to not struggle against it but just go along with it. The story did not come to me as one smooth narration. I could get an insight of the great war scene on Chapter 23 and then I could suddenly get an incident from chapter 5. As of now, I’ve plotted out the entire story and I’m already done writing 7 Chapters of the second book.
Your marketing strategy is intriguing.
The first chapter of your book was released early and passed out to interested readers at several bookstores across the country. And you’ve even jumped on the book trailer bandwagon, the film for The Immortals of Meluha being one of the first-of-its-kind in India. Is your marketing experience a major contributing factor? Professionally I’ve been a marketer most of my life. So I guess my experience in marketing does help a little bit. But more importantly, I have been lucky enough to have some great advisors and I have been smart enough to listen to them. The free promo copy (with the first 30 pages of the book) was my wife, Preeti’s idea. She’s been a senior person in the book trade for many years. And the idea was supported strongly by my publisher Anuj Bahri.
As for the trailer film, two friends of mine - Atul Manjrekar, a genius ad filmmaker and Abhijeet Powdwal, a senior marketing specialist, have made it. So, the credit is not due to me, but to my great advisors and partners.
Who are your favorite authors, in the fantasy genre as well as otherwise? I’m a big fan of Wilbur Smith, P G Wodehouse, Michael Crichton, J K Rowling, Raymond Feist, Ashok Banker, V S Naipaul and Ramchandra Guha. Amongst columnists, I enjoy reading Veer Sanghvi, Jerry Rao, Fareed Zakaria, Shekhar Gupta. On the historical books side, I really like Graham Hancock.
His theories are brilliant and he truly opens your mind to alternate possibilities from our standard views of the past.
Immortals of Meluha
When I came across this book on Facebook, I was like, ‘Wow, somebody has finally decided to capitalize on our rich Indian heritage of storytelling and write a mythological fantasy!’ To top it off, the cover was gorgeous! Call me shallow, but I do judge the book by its cover.
The book starts off with a young Shiva, recently appointed tribe chief of the Guna tribe, struggling to make the decision to move his entire tribe from the arid and difficult foothills of Mount Kailash to the far more appealing fertile lands of Meluha. He decides to take the plunge and make the move, only to discover that the Meluhans, by the virtue of his blue throat, consider him the chosen one - the saviour, from an age old prophecy. He chooses to embrace his role as the chosen one and take on Meluha’s many problem upon his shoulders. This fast paced novel has many things going for it. Elaborate fight scenes and intricate war strategies, all told from a decidedly Indian perspective, reeled me into the story.
The interactions between Shiva and Sati, the woman he falls in love with at first sight were intriguing. Age-old thoughts and philosophies were delivered in very modern dialogue, which I thought made for an interesting juxtaposition. Added to this were all the juicy references to actual historical fact and Indian mythology, which made the story all the more real to me. The only downside is that throughout the novel, I was unable to really get into the main characters - they remained mostly two-dimensional. Overall, The Immortals of Meluha was an excellent Sunday afternoon read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels!