Famous novelist and script writer, Anand Neelkantan’s second book of the ‘Ajaya’ series in Hindi was launched in Bhopal recently. After the launch, the author talked to HT City about mythology and the challenges of writing for TV.
Tell us about your new book.
This is the second part of the Ajaya series. The English version, released last year, was on the best seller list for close to 22 weeks. This is the Hindi translation of the same. It has been translated by Rachana Bhola Yamini; my other two books have also been translated by her.
Do you think any part of your book’s essence is lost when it is translated into another language?
Honestly, any book, when translated, loses its essence, because someone else is writing it. As an author, you know what you want to say. But then translation is the only way you can reach bigger audience. These stories that I write about are very close to India. English does cater to the younger audiences, but there is a huge group that can be reached only through Hindi and other regional languages. All my books have been translated to almost 11 languages.
What do you want to convey to your readers through your books?
The main thing is that the original Mahabharata and Ramayana are not judgemental books. In these books, there are no gods, there are avatars; there is a subtle difference. In Indian mythology, there is no concept of good and evil. That is why, Rama became a hero, Ravana became a villain. But in actuality, the books are about karma. These stories speak about the action and the reaction, and no one is spared of that. This is what the story talks about.
Has there ever been a controversy around your books, since these topics are sensitive in India?
No. I think usually the problem comes when there is no respect when you talk about these things. My books are not frivolous. I don’t use a western logic to define it. I don’t become judgemental that Rama is wrong or Krishna is wrong. I take a viewpoint. My books give strong arguments, but I am not present there. I play with perspectives. I want the reader to decide who is bad and who is not.
How much are your books related to the present scenarios of the country?
If I don’t relate them to the present, nobody will read it. If you read the books you will find that there is 100% similarity in the story and the present scenario. You can find contemporary political leaders in blind Gandhari, Dhristrashtra, Arjuna and all others, provided you know how to look at it. I will not point it out, because there’s no art in that.
You write for TV as well. You’ve written Siya Ke Raam, Hanuman, few episodes of Adaalat. What is that medium like?
TV is a compromised medium. Book caters to a certain market; people who have probably read about the subject already, seek different perspectives and therefore, want to read your book. TV is giving people what they really want. While writing for TV, the author’s craft is not there much.
Which one do you prefer, novels or TV?
Both have their merits and demerits. Novels give intellectual satisfaction, freedom to play with your thoughts and a much bigger canvas. Novels will still appeal to the people after 50, 100 years. TV gives feedback instantly and has an enormous reach, but it kills it as an art. There is no satisfaction there; it a competitive market.