‘Writing Jaal was like watching a movie unfold’

Stressing that she has not borrowed from Hindu mythology Sangeeta Bahadur explains how she spun a whole new world in her latest book.

Published: 13th July 2012 10:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2012 10:35 AM   |  A+A-


When did you conceive the idea of the Kaal Trilogy?

The story germinated within me perhaps eight years ago, and before I knew it I was completely enmeshed in the web of this world. The tale, the characters, the geography, history, religious configurations and cultural ethos were all so vivid that when I sat down to write the first book, Jaal, it was almost like watching a movie, with all the visual details worked out and inter-linkages of plots and situations clearly delineated. It finally took me around six years of weaving the multi-layered tapestry of the story.

How much time and research did you take to develop it?

The story itself came to me in a deluge of images translated simultaneously into words. There were, of course, points at which I had to pause and decide which fork in the road I should take, for the situations and characters constantly threw options and challenges at me.

Overall, though, the story grew smoothly enough. The layering of it was what took time — the weaving of the ethics, the philosophy and the metaphysics into the action without slowing the pace of the narrative or preaching from the pulpit. All this was unfamiliar territory for me, and it did take a great deal of reading, absorbing and reassembling to be able to work these amazing concepts into the tale. My husband — the more spiritually curious of the two of us — would discuss the concepts with me, suggest the reading material, and then step back and watch me write. The actual writing must have spanned around two years, stretched into six by long weeks and months when I simply didn’t find the time to write.

Have you borrowed from Hindu mythology or created your own?

I did not want to borrow from any mythology — particularly Indian mythology; far too many authors have already dipped into its rich brew for themes and characters and issues. I chose to create an all new mythology and thus ensure that the reader is surprised and intrigued at every turn, never quite sure what to expect next, emotionally and intellectually challenged by a novel context and matrix in a way that (s)he could never be challenged by an old, familiar one.  

Is Jaal inspired by The Lord of The Rings?

In one sense, every heroic fantasy written in modern times is inspired by The Lord of the Rings. However, that is like saying that every song ever written is ‘inspired’ by the seven notes of music. Sure, Jaal is also an epic fantasy, but its conceptualisation and execution are different — and completely and evocatively Indian in ethos, theme, content and metaphysical design.

What is the philosophical motif behind the adventure story?

At the heart of the trilogy lies the concept of what it means to be fully human, and the infinite possibilities inherent in that state. My protagonist Arihant is a superhero who evolves through the process of the inward realisation of potentials rather than the acquisition of advanced weaponry or magical pyrotechnics. The other dominant concept is that of practically creating the universe rather than it just being willed into existence by the word of god. The aim being to make the trilogy logically answerable to science, as well as philosophy.

How far have you worked out the next two in the trilogy?

The story is broadly worked out in my head, along with the unusual, often startling concepts I am borrowing from Indian spiritual traditions, as well as science, including stellar physics. Only the specifics of the weaving together of the two — the story and the concepts — remain to be detailed. I have already written the first 150 pages of Vikraal; the rest will, hopefully, be completed in a year’s time.

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