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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Author Interview : Devdutt Pattanaik, author of 'Shikandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You'

Unfortunately, I had never heard of Devdutt Pattanaik before I read ‘Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata’. Sometime after that, I laid my hands on  ‘Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana’ and now, it is ‘Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don't Tell You’. 

I was completely overwhelmed and fascinated, all over again when I read Jaya. It was almost fascinating, yet again. I think after that only ‘Shikandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You’ made me feel the same way again. 

I hope that I can ask Devdutt Pattanaik, the questions he deserves in my next interview, because this interview would feel incomplete to most of my readers. But, here it is. :)

‘Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don't Tell You’ was quite the revelation. Could you describe the journey? How did it begin?

When you have been writing on mythology for 20 years you often wonder why there are so many queer stories in Hindu mythology as compared to Abrahamic mythology and why it is so different from queer stories from Greek mythology.

Shikhandi attempts an answer

What kind of research was involved in a book, such as this one?

I don't divide my work as research and writing... it is all part of my seamless immersion in mythology for the past 20 years

Coming from being a doctor, who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

I did not intend to be an author. I love documenting ideas. I have always done so even in college days as part of college magazines.

Mythology was a passion even then. But just as a hobby. I did not realize that I knew much more than most people until people pointed it out.

But then a publisher, who was impressed by my understanding of mythology, asked me to write a book for them and that is how it all began nearly 20 years ago. 

What do you say are the similarities with some of the characters to lives, today?

You are assuming mythology is 'past'. A common and popular assumption. If you see mythology as mind-maps, you will realize the characters are timeless. 

What was the most challenging part of writing this book? 

I don't see writing books on mythology as a challenge. I have always been writing books. This would have been my 25th book....I have lost count. 

What are the most fulfilling parts of this book? Which particular characters did you feel most close to?

These are generic questions asked to every author, is it not? :-) 
I like all characters. 

Why do you think there is a sudden surge in stories based on the retelling of mythology?

Our lives have lost enchantment because of dry scientific and rational thinking. Harry Potter books and Lord of the Ring films fired our imagination. This is a global phenomenon. 

Did you think that your books would become as successful as they have become today?

I don't write books to be successful. That's so childish. 

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