Writing changed me from an atheist to a Shiva bhakt: Amish Tripathi
By day a control freak boss and by night a writer, Amish Tripathi has faced many rejections by publishers in the last few years. Today, he is the best-selling author of The Shiva Trilogy. Sonakshi Babbar talks to the acclaimed author about the book, being famous and more.books Updated: Sep 10, 2011 10:02 IST
By day a control freak boss and by night a writer, he has faced many rejections by publishers in the last few years. Today, he is the best-selling author of The Shiva Trilogy.
I call him up at 9 pm, quite late by industry standards for calling up people for interviews. He picks up at the first ring sounding pretty excited. "I hope this is only for transcript not a podcast because I have just downed a glass of wine, we're celebrating the success of The Secret Of The Nagas, it has only been a week and the book has gone into reprint."
He warms up to the theme. "You know, I faced a lot of rejections from publishers who wanted me to change a bit of the story, asked me to drop philosophy as it seemed like a gyan session but I was adamant."
The story reads like an adventure of the characters with an underlying philosophy. So did he find himself compelled to give his book a Dan Brown treatment?
"When I wrote the book, it read like a philosophy thesis, my friends and family suggested that I write it in the form of an adventure story as people will then at least give it a chance. This has been done a million times before, Ved Vyasa wrote Mahabharata to convey the philosophy of Vedas as they can become intense for most people. I didn't do anything wrong. As a writer it's important to stay true to your story without giving a hoot about publishers, critics and readers. You should do your karma as an author - the way you want to and rest is up to God."
Such faith in Lord Shiva seems surprising in someone who was an atheist eight years ago. "I was an atheist and had never written any fiction, not even a story in school, I was a hyper-comparative, screaming, typical MBA corporate type person, I can't think of a more undeserving person than me to write this book. I haven't done anything to earn it. But writing the book has changed me completely. He has turned my life around by 180 degrees, I still don't understand why Shiva has blessed me so much. I believe he'll bless the worst of us first because we need it the most."
Tripathi's mythological characters talk like us, cussing and expressing emotions in modern day lingo. So why has he written the story of Hindu Gods in English, a language which still remains only the second language of most Indian?
"Writing about our Gods in English is unnatural but I believe language is just a carrier - a means to an end. I believe if you want to convey a complex philosophy its advisable to keep it simple, day to day lingo. This has been demonstrated in history - Tulsidas, is the official Ramayana of North Indian he wrote it in Awadhi language of the common people.
True to this philosophy, The Secret Of The Nagas is even more unflinching. It takes up where the first book ended. You'll come to know if Sati has been killed or saved by Shiva. Many mysteries will get solved, many new mysteries will be created it will be the same fast pace like you saw in the first book, with new nuances, wars, treachery and new characters. The core philosophy - What is evil? - that I'm trying to convey will evolve more.
As the National Head of IDBI financial insurance until two months back, Tripathi was well equipped with solutions for everything except when it came to writing. "When the idea first came to me, (during a family discussion about devas and asuras), I diligently made excel sheets of my chapter plan but it didn't work. For the first time I was at a loss. It was something my wife said, which put things in perspective, she said "You think you are in control of everything but this is not your team at your company, these characters have a mind of their own - you are not in control of things. Your only job is to enter their world and record what they want you to do - Don't approach the book with the arrogance of a creator, approach it with a humility of a witness."
These words of wisdom changed everything.
Now, the author is soaking in the attention and adulation of readers from all over India. He is on a promotional tour of his book. And here his MBA training comes in handy - a fancy website and book trailers. "I am deeply involved with the marketing process of the book - the book cover, the sales, promotions."
So how does he get time to work on the book itself? "Well I like to compartmentalise my time. Right now I'm in the promotional mood, I will get back to the third book in October, then I will cut-off everything and just concentrate on the book."
The 36-year-old author is often accused of being too young to be creating stories about Hindu Gods, but he laughs it off. "Well I'm blessed to be given this opportunity by Lord Shiva."