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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Author Interview : Anand Neelakantan, author of ‘Rise of Kali : Duryodhana's Mahabharata' (Part 1)


Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelakantan has written the Interview of ‘Rise of Kali : Duryodhana's Mahabharata' with so much precision, that it becomes difficult for me to say anything beyond thanking him for it.

So, here's the Interview in which, he shares how he managed to change the ‘Gita’ into a discussion between Balarama and Krishna,  the growth between the first and the second books, the similarites and dissimilarites between Karna, Duryodhana with the lives of today, and the difference between a stand-alone book and a series. 

This is not all, and the Second Part is to come, next week. :)



‘Rise of Kali, Duryodhana’s Mahabharata’ was a brilliant book. The research seems tremendous. How can you tell the best parts, from all your research that you actually use in writing your book?

The book is part research and part imagination. It is reading between the lines, giving voice to the silenced and reimagining the story from the other side. The list of reference books is given in the last pages of the book.

How long did it take for you to research this book?

The book was researched along with ‘Asura’. I have been reading various versions of Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Puranas since my childhood.

It took almost 6-8 years of intense reading for ‘Asura’ and ‘Ajaya’ series.

You managed to change the ‘Gita’ into a discussion between Balarama and Krishna. It was a very well-placed read. How did you manage to touch upon the relevant factors and how was the experience? 
 
I approached ‘Gita’ like how a child with no religious prejudice would approach it. I kept asking more questions for every answer that ‘Gita’ is supposed to have. I was left with more questions at the end than I had started with.

What are your expectations from ‘Rise of Kali’, considering ‘Roll of the Dice’ did so well? 

Like any author, I also wish my book to be read by a large number of people.  I had put a lot of effort to research the subject and my heart and soul in writing it.  

Going by the reviews and sales so far, I hope this book will do better than my previous books.

What would you say is the growth of the characters, from the first to the second book?

The first book was just a set up. I was just setting up the tone and tenor of the book. In the second, every character undergoes a radical change.

In the first book, the princes from either side have not yet seen the world. They are young and impractical, swayed by the ideas of elders.
 
It is in the second, that they experience life up close. I have tried to bring the changes suitably.

How would you relate the life of Karna and Duryodhana to the lives of today? Any similarities or dissimilarities?

I bet everyone would have felt he has a Karna or Duryodhana in him. These characters are eternal. 

For the society’s sake, we will agree that Yudhishtra or Rama are the ideals and may be they are, but practically, we all are closer to Ravana, Karna or Duryodhana than we dare to admit. 


The entire ‘Ajaya’ (1 and 2) must have begun a long time ago. Could you describe the journey? How did it begin?

I had the wish of rewriting Ramayana and Mahabharata from the age of 14. 

Though I started writing ‘Asura’ at the age of 32 and completed it at the age of 38, and took another 3 years to complete the Ajaya series, these books have been always inside me for the past 26 years.

How different is writing a series compared to writing a stand-alone book? 

‘Ajaya’ was not meant to be a series. I had written it as a huge single book of 750 pages, but I felt I was not doing justice to the great epic. I decided to do it in two parts and it required rewriting the entire manuscript.

It would have been a commercially sound decision to have a one book. The problem with serialization for a counter telling is that it will not give a sense of completion to the reader if she or he reads only the first book. 

It took 18 months for the second book to come out and there is the problem of reader losing interest or forgetting the first part. I have tried to overcome this problem by giving a summary of first book in the second. 

I cannot presume that everyone who is picking up ‘Rise of Kali’ would have read ‘Roll of the Dice’. ‘Rise of Kali’ can be read as a standalone book also. Serialization works best with fantasy books.


You can Read the Reviews of 'Rise of Kali' here and 'Roll of the Dice' right here.
 
You can also Buy the Book here.


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