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”
The story is being put together, or at least the process has begun. The pre-cap for tomorrow brings promises and with it dread
Saraswatichandra is struggling with his memories. His later mother had ingrained in him, gently ordered him to follow his father’s wishes, whatever they may be. She had illustrated Lord Ram’s actions when it came to fulfilling the wishes of his father. She wanted her son Saraswatichandra to follow Shri Ram’s footsteps.
Saras finds it very difficult to do that. Of course, he has no Dashrath for father, even though he has “Kaikayi” like step-mother. He had realized long back that his father didn’t understand him, he would never be able to. Who then could he talk to about his wishes?
He wants to talk to Kumud and tell her that he can’t marry her. But how can he do that? He can’t ask his father for Kumud’s father, Vidyachatur’s phone number. He has no idea if Kumud has an E-mail address. In an instant, he realizes then what he must do. He must write a letter to her!
And so he does that, hoping that she will at least be able to understand him. Strange isn’t it? He expects her to automatically understand his point of view but doesn’t trust anyone else would. Is he not then already attuned to her, without knowing it?
Of course in the later part, he groans that he had ever given the responsibility of posting the letter to his friend. The receipt of the sent letter falls in the hands of his step-mother Ghuman, who for reasons of her own, supports him and doesn’t let his father, Laxminandan find out about it.
Kumud is on cloud nine, unable to believe her luck. Could fate really be so kind as to bring the man of her dreams into her real life? Was that possible? She writes poetry, waiting for her dream man to come face to face. Her sister Kusum adds to her hopes. Of course, she had met her dream man and what’s to stop them for having a happy ever after?
Mother comes in and urges the girls to go to Shiva temple. It is Mahashivratri and they must go and offer milk on to the lingam, so that they may be blessed with a husband who’s fair, handsome and rich.
Kumud will not make up her mind until she’s spoken to her badi-ma. Here enters a new character in the story in the form of Vidyachatur’s elder sister, who runs the house with a strict hand. Kumud is her sweetheart and they both share a special bond where they are more than aunt and niece. They are friends. They can read each other’s eyes and share all joys and sorrows.
Kumud’s aunt is overjoyed that Kumud had received an offer of marriage, but turns stone cold when she finds out who has sent the offer. She makes it plain to Vidyachatur and his wife that she doesn’t trust Laxminandan Vyas or anyone in his family due to the bitter past they share. She is obstinate in her belief that Kumud will never be able to find happiness in that household, rich though it may be. She rejects Saras as a suitor for Kumud but quiets down when Vidyachatur tells her that Kumud has her heart set on this wedding.
At the Shiva temple, Kumud asks for forgiveness from God and offers milk to the hungry children sitting outside the temple rather than pouring it over the Shivalingam. Her sister Kusum warns her of Shiva getting annoyed. What if Kumud finds that she may have married but not found love? Kumud is, however confident. She will find both; love and marital bliss. Kusum teases her by saying that she, Kusum will definitely marry a better man than Kumud. Their conversation gave me goose bumps. The two sisters spoke unknowingly of what was to happen in future.
The third sister pops up, excited with the news that a letter has come to Kumud from Saraswatichandra. Surely it is a sign of love? It is with eager hopes that I wait for the next episode where Kusum will read out Saraswatichandra’s letter to Kumud.
While watching “Devon Ke Dev Mahadev” a show that comes on Life OK, I felt touched by the way they show Lord Shiva grieving for his human lover and wife Sati. It is heart rending to say the least when the Lord says, Shakti; the only one I ever have been in love with, who had taken a human form simply to be with me is now dead. What use am I alive? Lord Shiva wanders around like a man dying internally of grief. His world is shattered already while the other Gods are uncomfortable and uneasy, waiting for the Universe to shatter.
It made me realize that this was the first ever unsuccessful love story, where in a way when Sati died, the husband Shiva died with her. Ascetic Lord Shiva lived on but the husband, the lover in him died while grieving for his beloved Sati. He turned away from the world and came back again only when Shakti was born under a different guise- Parvati.
She was re-born at King Himalaya’s abode and didn’t see Lord Shiva until she became of age. When she first saw him, she decided that he would be the only one she would choose as her husband. With grim determination, she set out to please ascetic and “away from the world” Lord Shiva. Shiva had no interest in coming back to the world where love, grief and other feelings were waiting. Parvati slowly and steadily wins his respect, affection and then finally love. So Goddess Parvati got her wish. She loved him, worshipped him, cajoled him and finally became one with him, to be forever.
What was the difference then between both the love stories? It is something that I had always pondered upon and today- all of a sudden, I had an epiphany. Was it because the first love- love between Sati and Shiva had one ingredient that till today is considered taboo among lovers? Do you know what? I do now. J It was ego and self-restraint. When you love someone you must let go of your ego, your hesitancy, your restraints and more than that, trust the person you love with his perception of things.
Any love story that we have known of, read or seen in the light of a true love story is always filled with not just struggles but sometimes also tragedy. Laila Majnu, Romeo and Juliet, Heer Ranjha- all of them. Why? Because none of the couples could let go of their self-restraint until it was too late. We see it in reality as well, don’t we? Why is it that so many love marriages fail while some succeed beyond wildest dreams according to you? Your thoughts on it?