"I am an Indian and inheritor of Hindu and Islamic cultures,” Amish Tripathi sets the record straight, as he sits down for lunch in a chair under the shade at the sprawling Taramati Baradari. Clad in a light blue shirt and brown blazer, the author of the best selling Shiva trilogy __ The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras (set to hit the stands this yearend) __ believes conflict arises when a few own a religion without realising its meaning.
“I have nothing against Islam. In fact, I borrowed elements from Islamic culture to shape the Suryavanshis,” he explains as he munches on his modest meal of dal, rice & pappad.
In the city for the literary festival, the IIM graduate and former insurance banker comes across as a modern philosopher __ sans the beard. By his own account, he was “least expected” to be so by his own family members.
“I was born into a middle- class family that stressed heavily on education and I was kind of behind everyone in academics,” he says, downplaying his own IIM education. “We were watching television, when the idea struck me that Shiva could be a great man in his time whose legend later on made him Mahadev.
My family were surprised that I could come up with such a proposition,” he smiles, recalling the moment he conceived the inconceivable, so to speak.
But what drew him to the whole idea of mythology in the first place?
“My family was and is religious. Besides, I was into reading and what intrigued me was the unity somewhere in the cultures... for example, as we refer to Gods as Devas and demons as Asuras, the ancient persians used to do the reverse!” he points out, echoing the predominant theme at the festival that we need to look at India as a civilisation, not just as a country.
In fact, his eye for details like these that makes his work truly revealing __ deft touches like the war cry of the Neelkanth, “Har Har Mahadev” (Each and everyone is a Mahadev). If one hears the same outside, it goes through one’s ears without meaning. But not in Amish’s novels.
And this self-confessed Shiv Bhakt, taking a leaf out of his Lord’s teachings, remains stoic despite his phenomenal success.
“I have sold the Hindi movie rights to producer-director Karan Johar. My agent Creative Artists Agency is in talks with Hollywood producers,” he says in a matter of fact way.
Asked if he isn’t afraid that movie makers might do injustice to his Shiva, he replies that he’s Karan Johar’s creative consultant and that he has confidence in the highly successful producer. He clarifes that he isn’t writing the script. For now, though, he is busy penning 'The Oath of the Vayuputras', which he reveals will hit the stands by this year-end.
And what after that?
“I have some story ideas..Ramayana and Mahabharata..,” he reveals with a chuckle as he finishes his lunch.