Millennium Post

‘I don’t see if society needs a book or not’

We know history is written by the victors. Why did you take it upon yourself to explore the other side rather than going with the flow?

There should be someone to say about the other side too.

Why Mahabharata? Why not any other epic?

Because, I had already written the other great epic Ramayana. Asura, Tale of the Vanquished. From there to Duryodhana’s Mahabharata in Ajaya, epic of Kaurava clan, is a natural progression.

Why do you think the world would be interested in a sympathetic view of the Kauravas?

I have a sympathetic view on the Kauravas. I would be happy if the world shares my sympathy. 

Many authors, recently, have taken up Mahabharata – like the Aryavarta chronicles and have tried viewing it from alternate perspectives – what do you have to say about that? Is there a need for alternate view on the epics?

Aryavarta chronicles is Krishna Udayasnkar’s Mahabharata, Ajaya is mine. An author does not see whether the society needs a book or not. An author cannot conduct a market survey to decide whether there will be a market for one particular book and write about it. Authors write because they have a story to tell. Many great writers have written about Mahabharata and Ramayana and many more will continue to do so. I have an alternate view on Ramayana and that became my first book, Asura. I have an alternate view on Mahabharta and that is my forthcoming title, which is getting published in two parts. Ajaya, epic of the Kaurava clan, Book I: Roll of the dice and Book II: Rise of Kali.

Do you think how people perceive the Kauravas will change after your book? 

I have no such illusions of  grandeur. Mahabharata is a great epic that is still alive after 5,000 years. Mine is just a small addition to the vast  literature on this great epic. If I can instil a small doubt that may be there could be some truth in Kaurava’s side too, I will be happy.

Who is your favourite amongst the Kauravas?

Suyodhana, also called Duryodhana.

Did you pick Mahabharata over the Ramayana because toying with facts would be a lot less controversial?

As I said earlier, I have already written Ravana’s Ramayana and sold more than 1.25 lakh copies of it. I did not worry about controversy then. It is 18 months now and still Asura is in the top seller chart. Asura is coming out in 10 Indian languages. So is Ajaya, the epic of the  Kauravas. A writer who is afraid of controversy or a writer who seeks controversy for publicity is no writer at all. A writer writes because he or she has something to say.

Tell us a bit about Asura and now Ajaya? Are you going to keep siding with the historical ‘other’? What’s next in the pipeline?

Asura is about Ramayana from the perspective of the Vanquished. It is not only Ravanayana, but also Asurayana for there is a character called Bhadra, the common man in my first book, who tells half of the story from the perspective of the ordinary man and how lives of great men affect  little men’s lives. Ajaya is Mahabharata from Kaurava’s side. It is also the story of forgotten heroes like Ekalavya. The next one will be Amatya, the story of Chanakya’s foe. I love viewing popular stories from the other side. However, I will explore other genres too, like humour and thrillers.  It may be a children’s novel in the future or perhaps a science fiction.

Have you considered exploring the female characters in epics? You seem to have steered clear of that.

Ajaya has very strong female characters.  A story can be told in many ways. I had toyed with the idea of writing Asura from the perspective of  Soorpanakha and Sita, but I felt a female writer could do more justice to such writing by bringing lyrical beauty and thoughts to writing than me. Asura is all about raw male emotions and arrogance. I had to write according to my strength. I cannot bring the soft lyrical beauty and careful thoughtfulness that Chitra Divakurni achieves in 'Palace of Illusion'. I would be a failure if I attempt to write like that. I am more comfortable in bring power in my writing.
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