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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Author Interview : Mohan Prasad, author of ‘Legacy' (Part 1)

Mohan Prasad

Read up, Interview with Mohan Prasad. This was an absolute pleasure. I noticed that he writes his answers, as if he were writing a book, and I really enjoyed that bit.  Because, he does not find an end to whatever he may be answering. And even that is an experience, indeed. 

In this part of his Interview, he describes his journey of writing the book, which character he feels most close to, what he thought was the most challenging part of the book and how India's socio-political background influenced his writing, Folks...

How did ‘Legacy’ happen? Could you describe the journey? 

My grandfather was a freedom fighter. From him, I used to hear stories that increased my curiosity with regard to our freedom fight as well, as our History. There were a lot of things that we did not know about our own country and was never taught, as well in History classes. 

Moreover, I always had a love for stories. This was due to my grandfather and my mother, both good storytellers. I used to write short stories as a hobby, but when I graduated to writing a novel, History kept haunting me. That’s why; I took a break from my career and got into research. 

I am writing historical fiction (Legacy, as well as, my forthcoming books) to present the story of India to a curious and energetic new generation with a fresh perspective, in an engaging manner. Most of us don’t go through History books properly because they become quite boring at times. 
Moreover, text books at times try to follow the political agenda and often play safe. They don’t touch on controversial topics or events, and even if they do, they just graze over.

How did the main characters, Darshan and Anita come about? How much of you, was in there?

When Satya Sai Baba died, I had just returned to Gurgaon from my village. I
Anuradha Ghandy
had never considered him, a divine personality but mostly, more of a fraud. He has done some good for the society, but with our money itself. Even his predictions, regarding his own death were wrong. Even in my Literature class at IIT Delhi, our professor had once discussed how God-men and women who start believing in themselves, as miracle makers.

So I decided to write a book on a Godman and why he became so and what all, he thinks. Anita is inspired a bit from Anuradha Ghandy, a female Naxal, originally from Mumbai. The idea of combining these two characters in one book came to me, while I was in the sea, going to Gangasagar. It suddenly struck me that both could be lovers who see life in their own ways and act accordingly.

What according to you is different about your book?

Legacy’ touches recent history of India, which probably no fictional work has described in detail. There are books, which move around Emergency, or ones focussed on Naxalism. But there probably isn’t any book, which covers in detail the major historical events after the war with Pakistan and China till the beginning of the 21st century, when India could be seen as a rising World Power.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

I feel close to Darshan, in some ways and Anita, in some ways. I liked Anita’s no-nonsense and action oriented approach, however not her violence.

While I can associate with Darshan’s practical approach and search for a meaning in life, his con acts as a Godman are not palatable for me.

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Legacy’?

The most challenging was to keep the narrative in control. There were a lot of times that I wanted to inform readers of the Historical events, as well as small nuggets, which however kept the narration from running smooth.

Having a balance, between the two was difficult. Also, at times the characters seem to go out of control. It seemed as if they had a life of their own and I could not dictate what they did, but I just saw and described it.

How did the socio-political background of India affect your writing?

It has got everything to do with my writing. We often forget history and its lessons. Anna Andolan made me look into the JP movement and research it thoroughly.

Subhash Chandra Bose
The rise of Naxalism is a product of our caste and class system. The rise of Godmen and Godwomen in India is an everyday story of our society and has been for centuries.

Bhagwanji baba, who is rumoured to be Subhash Chandra Bose was brought into the book to remind ourselves of the Independence struggle, its directions, real heroes and their vision of India.

Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

Most of the stories of Darshan and Anita, while growing up are based on experiences I and my friends from my school hostels went through.

The culture of Bihar and Jharkhand that I have described are mostly based on experiences that I had or my relatives had or people in our region have gone through. Mishri’s story is really inspired by one of our ancestors, while some stories of Shankar are also inspired by one of my uncle’s life.

And hold on for the second part of this Interview, too.

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, here as well.
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