'No Award Can Match a Bestseller'
By Niharika | Express Features | Published: 29th November 2013 10:35 AM |
Ajaya, the character
Ajaya is everything that is not Jaya- the original name of Mahabharata. Ajaya is the story viewed from the side that lost the war, the Kauravas. In this, there is no Duryodhana, but Suyodhana- the crown prince and the real heir of the throne. Ajaya is also the story of forgotten heroes like Aswathamma, Karna, Ekalavya etc.
Ajaya was conceptualised as a two part series from the beginning and entire chapters have been plotted meticulously, however, what I fill in the chapters is known to me only after I have written it. I plot in detail and design chapters. However, I do not plan what to write in a particular chapter. I leave my mind free. I use both methods - detailed plotting with chapter outlines, and spontaneous writing within the chapters. When I start a book, I know what the last sentence would be and what the first sentence would be. What is difficult is to fill the stuff in between these two.
No point tagging characters as negative
Usually the vanquished are portrayed as negative characters. If we view the epics impartially, all characters are with shades of grey and no one is totally positive or negative. The victors write history and paint the other side as evil. In recent history, we see both the Allies powers and Axis powers committed atrocities in world war II, but only Hitler is vilified.
Churchill was responsible for more than three million deaths in Bengal famine, yet he is a hero where as Hitler who killed almost the same number in his gas chambers is the evil incarnate. If Hitler was evil, so was Churchill with his hatred towards Indians, especially Hindus.
Harry S Truman, the American president killed many more people on a single day than Hitler by dropping the atom bomb on a civilian population in Japan, but only the side that lost carries the burden of evil now. So is it in our epics.
Mythological fiction is hard work
I like writing and I am comfortable with writing about what I am passionate about . It does not mean that I will not venture out into other genres in the future. History is a subject that fascinates me. My next book is a historical fiction- Amatya, the story of Chanakya’s foe. For me it was easy, because I grew up in an air soaked with mythology. It requires a lot of research and hard work. Asura took six years. Writing mythological fiction is more difficult than writing other popular genre. Research has to be meticulous and there will be many versions to consider. Moreover, there will be lot of prejudices and getting acceptability is more difficult if one goes against the conventional thinking. Ajaya became easier because most of the materials I collected for Asura was useful for Ajaya too.
Deconstruction of myths in a society
There is nothing canonical about our myths. They keep evolving. Every era has produced its own Ramayana and Mahabharata. Our mythology is not like Greek or Egyptian one, which have got frozen in time as the civilizations that produced them are dead. Ours is a vibrant and living culture. Only in such cultures does mythology get reinvented again and again.
Bestsellers and awards
Asura has been shortlisted for the Popular Award category for IDBI Bank Crossword Book
Award 2013. The shortlisting is based on total sales volume. It means that it is one of the well accepted books of 2012-13. That is a great honour and I am really thankful to all my readers for the same. Being in best seller list means more people are reading the book. Which author would not love that? Critical award does not mean anything as it is just the opinion of a few people. A best seller connects with readers more. No award can match that.
I would not be shying from big screen
Film is a collective art, whereas a book is mostly an individualistic pursuit. These are two different mediums of storytelling. Adapting a book to a film is a real challenge and I love challenges. Given a chance, I would not be shying away from a big screen adaptation.
I enjoy writing
One day, I am sure writing will become my bread and butter. I enjoy my job but my heart is always in writing or painting. I wake up at 4 am and write till 7.30 every day. All these would not have been possible without the unstinting support of my wife Aparna.