‘Immortals of Meluha’ అన్నది ‘శివా ట్రైలజీ‘ అన్న పేరుతో రాబోయే పుస్తకాలలో మొదటిది. ఈ ఏడాదే విడుదలైంది. మిగితా రెండు పుస్తకాలూ రాబోయే నెలల్లో విడుదలౌతున్నాయి. ఈ Mythological Fiction రచయిత అమీష్ ఐ.ఐ.ఎం. కోల్కత్తా పూర్వ విద్యార్థి, ప్రస్తుతం ఒక భీమా సంస్థలో పనిచేస్తున్నారు. ఆయన గురించీ, పుస్తకం గురించీ వివరాలు shivatrilogy.com లో చూడవచ్చు.
We thank Amish for his co-operation during this interview. – pustakam.net
[ప్రశ్నల కూర్పు: సౌమ్య, పూర్ణిమ, చదలవాడ శ్రీరాం]
How did you get the idea of a video trailer for a book’s advertisement? Did you imagine the movie playing, as you wrote? 🙂
Yes. Actually I did see the book as a movie. I would just describe what I saw and the book emerged. One of my friends, Abhijeet, who had read the manuscript before its release said that the book is very visual and we should market it with a trailer film. And hence was born the idea.
Did you expect this response from the reading community?
Honestly, I had no expectations. I had just written the book the way it came to me. I am delighted that it has been accepted well.
When can we expect the other two parts?
The second part will be out by mid 2011. I’m writing it right now. The third book will be out in another year from there.
Why Shiva? Why not some other God?
The central theme of the trilogy is the nature of evil and its destruction. Who can be a better hero of such a story than the destroyer of evil Himself, Lord Shiva!
“I believe that the Hindu gods were not mythical beings or a figment of a rich imagination.” – What resulted in this belief? And is that what you wanted to convey through the trilogy?
A large part of this is from stories that I heard as a child from my grandfather (who was a pandit) and my parents who were very religious. There is an essential Hindu belief that God resides within us, in our hearts. All we have to do is discover Him. I used to be an atheist till a few years back. Of course, today I am a very devoted Shiva bhakt. Lord Shiva has transformed me for the better. In this story about the simple man behind the myth of a God, I discovered my devotion to the divinity in Him.
For whom was this book written? Indians? Indians who ignore their religion? Or anyone interested in India and Indian-ism?
I didn’t have any target market while writing the book. I just wrote what came to me. I hope it gives to others upon reading it what it gave to me upon writing it.
How would this book appeal to a non-Indian, while most of the settings seem to be lying in ancient India?
Like I said earlier, I wasn’t really thinking of a target market while writing this book. Having said that, I’ve actually got emails from foreigners who have picked up the book on visits to India and have liked the book. I think India is attractive to foreigners at this point of time and our stories have a much broader appeal.
Our movies are going beyond boundaries. Time for our books too?
Tell about your reading interests. How do you choose books? How did you get in to the habit of reading books?
I read all types of books – fiction and non-fiction. My family members are voracious readers. So, I generally rely on their opinions or online/offline reviews or some recommendations from friends. Also, in case of someone like Ramachandra Guha, who is one of my favourites, I generally read his books as soon as it is released.
Who are your favourite authors? What are your favourite genres / books?
I read all types of books and so, my favourite authors also are of different genres. Presently I am reading ‘Jaya’ an illustrated retelling of Mahabharata. I also like reading fiction by P.G.Wodehouse, Robert Ludlum, Dan Brown, Wilber Smith etc.
I also read a lot of history. In the recent past, I liked a book called ‘1492’, which describes the world events around that year and how they influenced world history and in effect created the modern world.
You mentioned in one of the interviews that you read a lot on religion, mythology etc. Being an atheist till then – how did you get the initial guidance on what to read, whom to read?
I had exposure to religion and books related to it since childhood, since my family members are religious. So, I had no problem with the initial guidance and choice of books. But I have to say that most of my knowledge of Hindu mythology is from my family members rather than books.
What’s the research that has gone into this book?
On the mythology front, I relied largely on what I learnt from my family. My grandfather was a pundit and both my parents are deeply religious, with good knowledge of our mythology. So, more than the books written on Indian mythology, I trusted what I heard and understood through my parents. On the history front, I am generally interested in History and read a lot of books on Indian as well as world history. It helped.
As a reader, how do you see the current Indian English literature?
I think this is a good time for Indian English literature. Thanks to Chetan Bhagat, a lot of people in India are reading now. He is like a Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bacchan, Chiranjeevi all rolled into one for our generation of writers. None of us have his market.
Do you plan to write more in future?
Yeah, like I said before, I am interested in mythology and historical fiction. I have a lot of story ideas in mind about the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Manu’s story, Akbar Egyptian mythology etc. Let us see how it goes.
How easy or difficult is it to publish and market your own book in the current era? How did you find and convince your publisher about this book?
It’s not very easy. In my case, the manuscript got rejected by at least 35-40 publishers and it took almost 2.5 years to see the light of day. However, I can understand the plight of publishers too. With the large number of manuscripts they get for examination every day, it is really difficult to expect complete understanding on their part.
Any suggestions / advices to wanna-be writers?
It’s a good time for Indian English writers. Actually, it’s a good time to be Indian now. There is a surge of creativity and a ‘can do’ confidence everywhere now.
I’d also suggest self-publishing in case you are not getting the backing of any publisher. Self publishing authors are also like entrepreneurs – they put their blood, sweat and money where their heart is. New developments in layout and printing technology can also help them a lot.
Why was the choice of language, English? Is it anything to do with number of copies to be sold?
English in India does not belong to a particular region. And hence it can sell throughout India. Having said that, I am of course enthusiastic about the book being translated into regional languages. Despite the spread of English as a language of commerce, the language of our culture continues to be our local language. Of the top 10 newspapers in India, only one is in English.
Are you happy with the response that the book got?
Yes. It was totally unexpected.
Isn’t announcing a trilogy a challenge in itself? There’s always a risk of your first book not doing well. What would be the point of sequence, when the first isn’t selling? How should a writer cope up with it? How did you plan?
Yeah, I agree its a bit risky. Also, its my first ever piece of writing. Having said that, one of the benefits of not knowing too much about publishing was that I wasn’t thinking about the risk. I just wrote what came to me!
You’re an MBA turned to writing. When into writing, should one always feed oneself through ways other than writing? Do you think, the IITians and IIMs etc would soon leave their lucrative jobs and settle down as “Indian English authors”?
It depends on what works for you. But I honestly believe that when writing, we should not let money come into play. Because then we corrupt the story we have been blessed with. You should not write a story that you think is saleable, you should just write what feels right to you as an author. While writing, it shouldn’t matter to you whether your book is saleable or not. You should think of marketing & money only once the book is already complete.
Is there going to be a movie adaptation of the book? Perhaps in 3D animation?
I was approached with this idea. Let us see about this in future.
What has been the response to the book from Hindu spiritual leaders?
There was no negative response anywhere. Retelling the story of God, is a way of finding your own path to Him. Only a devotee does that. So, why will religious leaders complain?
On the comment which said – ‘These are the rakhi sawants of Indian Literature’…
That Indian authors are Rakhi Sawants? I don’t know if I can comment on what others think of Indian authors or Rakhi Sawant. But if I may say one thing as my personal opinion on Rakhi Sawant. I know she may not come across as classy. But I respect her for the fact that she made it on her own. Without any godfather or the backing of rich & powerful parents. How many of us can say that about ourselves? That whatever we have achieved is completely of our own doing.
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