After spending a hectic Saturday evening and Sunday morning, I sat down quietly this evening, with cup of Espresso and a plate of home-baked apple pie, thinking about the event from yesterday afternoon.
A few days back, I had received an E-mail from Qyuki, an organisation that encourages creative talent to be, and gives it a voice. They invited me to be a part of their chosen audience that would get to listen to the conversation between Shekhar Kapur and Amish Tripathi.
For those who are unfamiliar with QYUKI, it is based in Bangalore, and pioneered by two brilliant minds from the entertainment industry. QYUKI’s pioneers are Music Director A.R. Rehman and just as famous Film Director; Shekhar Kapur. Mr. Kapur has made movies like Elizabeth, that had been nominated for 7 Academy Awards and Bandit Queen. A particular favourite of mine from his directions is Hindi film, “Masoom”, while A.R. Rehman is known for his music in “Slumdog Millionaire”.
It is always a pleasure to hear two top notch brains talk, since there’s almost always witty, intelligent conversation involved. And that’s exactly how I felt when I heard them talk. Amish is one of my favourite writers from modern times. (For those who haven’t read his books, and are interested, look for his Shiva trilogy- “The Immortals of Meluha”, “The Secret of the Nagas” & his latest “The Oath of the Vayuputras”.) I’ve read and re-read it and crave for more. The back and forth witty retorts timed by well-eyed observations actually had me smiling and even laughing at times.
Amish had been accompanied by his charming wife and son. It was obvious that they were the centre of his world and he of theirs. There was so many questions teeming in my mind, when I started to listen to what he had to say. I was only able to ask one, but here’s what he had to say to the questions he was asked by his fans as well as Shekhar Kapur.
Amish called himself a literary pop star when he was asked if he liked being labelled as a best-selling author from India or a literary genius. He elaborated this by saying that writing was a process that involved not just his head, but a lot of other heads too. He admitted to suffering from writer’s temperament and he showed his gratitude towards his family, wife, publisher, & his editor for being patient with him.
For him, writing is not just about making money although the practical side of him wouldn’t ignore it either. He was making quite a bit of it as an investment banker in his life, before he made writing his full time profession. Though he spoke about how he wished to let the story flow onto pages as a non-ending saga, he did confess that at the end of the day, creativity must meet practicality. It is the publisher and editor who must earn from his writing, just as he earns the accolades from his fans. Thus, he has to be disciplined and focused with his work.
For his Shiva trilogy, he informed the audience that he had so much to write on it; that his creativity flowed through like a constant stream of thoughts and dialogues from his characters. At the end of the day, it was only about 25% of his writing that was published as a book.
He dismissed the idea of Shiva trilogy becoming a quadrilogy at any time, but did express hope that he may be able to give voice to some of the lovely stories of the characters inside the book. I so hope he writes in details about Brahaspati & Tara, Bhadra and Krittika as well as more about Panchwati and Maika. He didn’t elaborate much on the content of his third book; “The Oath of the Vayuputras”, since there were many who’d not read it yet. But he satisfied my craving to know more by giving a little inside information & saying, he had a wonderful time thinking about all those lovely stories behind my favourite characters.
On being asked about the fundamental philosophy behind the trilogy, he spoke about realism of philosophy and the question one asks to one self, “What or Who am I?” He informed the audience that he worked on similar philosophy for himself and adapted what he learnt from it. For the book, his philosophy was “Evil serves a purpose”. It is through evil than greater good emerges while God stands in as a witness to it.
When asked about how he turned from an atheist into a believer, he replied that he had simply re-discovered his belief in religion, in God. In his words, he comes from a family of ‘Gyaan yogis” (ascetics who thirst for knowledge of all sorts). His belief gradually came back and thus, started the journey towards re-discovering faith.
To aspiring writers, he gently recommended believing in their own work and not losing hope if they can’t find a publisher. Technology these days, as he rightly said, gives a writer the freedom to post his book online to make himself visible.
One of the fans asked him on how he felt about his books in the wake of religious intolerance that presides in the country today. He smiled at the question and replied about his own belief in his concept, regardless of the consequence. His reply showed his hope in his countrymen, when he said that there may be extremists- religious and secular, but he believed his countrymen were mostly liberal in thoughts and thus, he is not concerned with religious intolerance factor. Those who wish to read, will read it. Those who don’t, can follow their own philosophy.
All in all, I feel that his replies were not stinted, not staged. Despite the rush, and despite his busy schedule, he did take out time to sign books. Good luck with your next adventure Amish! I look forward to reading more of you some time soon.
*photo credit “Qyuki”