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Amish Tripathi: My Books Have Never Caused Any Controversy, The Key Thing Is…| Exclusive – News18

Amish Tripathi can wisely be termed India’s most popular mythological fiction writer in today’s day and age. His books sell like hotcakes and his writing beautifully caters to and interests readers of all ages. It must be noted that not many can do what Amish was able to as a writer, he reimagined mythological figures and breathed life into them turning them into relatable characters with heroic traits.

Ever since ‘The Immortals of Meluha’, Amish’s debut novel, there has been no looking back for the author and he is only on the rise. Amish Tripathi has been ruling the hearts of his readers ever since his debut novel came out more than a decade back and years later he still continues to be the favourite for many and has tons to offer

In an exclusive conversation with News18 a while back at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Series Jaipur Literature Festival, Amish talks about reimagining mythological tales and making them his own- the process and the rules of it, his writing technique, the rising interest in Indian mythology and more-

Your books beautifully blend mythology with fiction. How do you manage to strike a balance between staying true to the source material and adding your creative touch to it?

I think the key thing is to try and read as much, any author in this case, try and read as much as you can. The more you read, the more, let’s say, ingredients you will have. If you want to write on the Ramayana, of course you should read the original Valmiki Ramayana, but read the other versions as well. So Valmikiji is created with three versions of the Ramayana, Valmiki Ramayana, Anut Ramayana, and Ananda Ramayana, they’re all three. And there’s a Kamba Ramayana, which is the Tamil version, Ramayana Darshanam, the Kannada version, the Kritibashi Ramayana, the Gauli version, Ramcharitmanas, Goswami Teerthijarathi, read as much as you can.

I’m just giving an example of Ramayana, and various other examples like this. That gives all the ingredients. The second thing is actually more at an emotional level, that if you approach the subject with respect if you approach the subject with respect, the balance automatically just emerges.

You find that there are some authors, and some filmmakers who do make interpretations, and you find no controversy around it. And you find some authors, some filmmakers where there is controversy around it. I think at a fundamental level, it would be a lack of knowledge or a lack of respect. How will you have those two, then it’s a similar thing.

You just spoke about how pivotal it is to be respectful towards your sources, so I am going to ask you to maybe share how you have managed to do that for so long while still add your own creativity to your writing.

That just emerges. And so for example, let me give an example. So, goddess Sati, we all know that the traditional legends say that she created a Swayambhu fire from within. And therefore, she died. I am sure everyone knows that story. And with that, she jumped into the sacrificial yajna. So my interpretation struck me, could it be that she was shot by a poisoned arrow? And the poisoned arrow was such that it created a fever within her which would never break. Now if you have a fever which never breaks, your organs will start failing and you’ll die. And that is in a way like a fire from within which never stops. So this is a kind of plausible interpretation of what the legend was. Now this is a thing which struck me. And there are things like this. So my books have never caused any controversy, the key thing is again having all that, as much knowledge as you can. And writing with respect.

How do you approach character development in terms of dealing with mythological figures that we are so aware of and know the stories of?

As a writer, and I’ve said this often before, I discover the story as a writer as much as you as a reader would discover it while reading. I discover it while writing. I don’t make a character sketch. I don’t make a story, a scenario, a flow. I don’t do all that. I open the laptop, a parallel universe opens up and I just record what I see. So in a way, I’m not creating it. I’m just a witness. Lord Shiva is just giving me the blessing. And I see it and I record what I see.

Many of your works explore profound philosophical terms. How do you incorporate these ideas into your storytelling? What is the process like as a writer?

For me actually, the process has always been research as much as you can. I read a lot. I read at least 5-6 books per month. I’ve been reading at that pace for decades. And I don’t do research on a subject. I just love researching all the time. Because I have no idea what will go on in the book. So research as much as one can. I am also lucky in the family that I was born into. It is a very high IQ family. I am the dumbest guy in my family. Our dinner conversation is about our philosophies, about main debates etc. So all that kind of forms those philosophies in my mind. Now how that emerges in the story, that is instinctive. I don’t plan that. So my job is to just get as many ingredients as I can.

Are there particular philosophical or spiritual concepts that you find yourself returning back to constantly for help or maybe taking inspiration from?

I think life experiences make you revisit many of those philosophies and learn them at a deeper level. For example, I learnt at a young age, that Gautam Buddha had said, the first of the four noble truths, grief and suffering are a fundamental reality of life. And it helps you grow. There’s a lovely line I read somewhere that ‘wisdom is the reward and grief is the price you pay for that reward.’ This is a theoretical concept in my mind, a very beautiful philosophy.

But my family and I passed through a lot of emotional turmoil in the last seven, or eight years. For all of us, our careers were going better and better, but we passed through a lot of personal tragedies. We lost many people in our family, some of them very tragically. We went through our own personal grief. I think that experience helped me understand this philosophy a lot deeper, I guess. Philosophies help you deal with life. Life has its ups and downs, who escapes suffering?

Did you ever envision your books reaching out to a global audience? And specifically for someone like you, who is writing for a specific cultural context, keeping in mind Indian mythology, how do you try and appeal to the global audience?

I didn’t even think my books would get published. I don’t envision anything. When it started getting published…But even now, I write what feels right to me. When I’m writing, I don’t care about the audience, critics, publishers. I write what feels right to me. I start thinking about those practical things only when I’m marketing. Look, if the purpose is just money and fame, there are much easier routes. Writing should be the voice of your soul. I always believe that. Write for your soul.

In recent years, there has been an increased interest among Indian readers in stories of mythology. Why do you think this is happening?

I think as a culture, as we grow wealthier, and regain our historical self-confidence…For most of human history, India was the wealthiest, most powerful land on earth. We have had a bad few centuries. Happens. But we’re coming back now. And as we rise in self-confidence, then we don’t want to understand our land and our philosophies from Western eyes. Why should we? We want to see it from our own eyes. We want to learn about life from our own background, and our own philosophies. That rising confidence, and self-confidence, is what is leading this reconnection and a search for our roots. Which is a good thing. It makes us stronger.

Lastly, can you provide some insights into your latest work or something that you’re working on?

I am working on a book on Rajendra Chola, the great Indian emperor from Tamil Nadu. From modern Tamil Nadu. And that should be out by the end of the year. And I’m going to start writing the fifth book of the Ramchandra series, which will connect it to the Shiva Trilogy. It’s a long 15-year journey. It’s all coming together.

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