Leedstart publishers gave me an opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors Anand Neelakantan. So, let me not further make you wait to read about him.. the questions are marked in Bold followed by his answers..
Ready steady Poooooooooooo………………………………..
In ASURA ,I see that you have taken an Indian mythology. you have added a character Badra. how did Badra happen? he seemed steal the show. how to do you relate yourself to Badra??
When the stories of great men are told, it is often the common man or Aam Admi who gets ignored. Bhadra is the forgotten common man. Bhadra is no body and Bhadra is everybody. I wanted to create a third perspective of Ramayana and connect it to modern India. Bhadra became the bridge. I am related to Bhadra like every Indian is related to him.
Incase you were asked a write a novel original to self, as in not taken from mythology, how would it be??
I have not decided to write only about mythology. Asura and Ajaya are about Ramayana and Mahabharata, but soon I will be writing about day to day life.
Did any time while writing this book, you doubted about the acceptance of readers?? Indians quite believe characters of mythology to be GODS.
Yes, but our Gods are quite human. Many of the Bhakthi poets even scold the Gods. It is a part of love towards God. Hinduism may be unique in this tradition. For us, God is not someone who sits in the heaven and judges people. She is within us. Criticising God is criticising Self and self realization.
I found the illustration given in the book very traditional and authentic . were they done by you? I also understand that you are a cartoonist. do you have any plans to making a book with illustrations or just cartoons telling the entire epic or a story?
No, the illustrations were done by an artist called Ashokan, who is a traditional mural painter in Kerala. Unfortunately, like many Keralities, he has left to work in Dubai as the profession he loves does not help him make his living. I draw cartoons as a hobby, but I am not that professional to illustrate in books. Cartoons telling the entire epic is difficult, but will be great if done properly
there are so many good aspects in the book. you talk about Asura who were against cast system, treated women equally etc etc. Can we see you addressing present day problems ( economics, rape, fluctuating Govt.)without or without connection with epic in future?
My writing is my observation about life and my times. Using epics is just a method. The greatness of our epics is that it is relevant in any age and in any culture. I shall continue to do the same.
Writing and writers
Right now I see a trend that you are taking up ” accepted negative Characters” side, giving the story in a new perspective, sometimes telling un-revealed facts too . what has made you take their sides? In future which other antagonists are going get our attention?
Next one is Rakshasa. He was the anti hero in Mudra Rakshasa, the classic in which Chankya is the hero. Amatya- the Tale of Chanakya’s foe. It will deal with India in crisis at the brink of Alexander’s invasion.
I see most of the books being converted into movies these days. If at all ASURA has to made as movie, whom do you suggest to be your lead roles. ( let me tell you, there was a time when Telugu hero, NTR used to take up “Anti-hero” roles and give a new perspective to cinema.)
Having grown up in awe of six times national award winner Mohanlal’s acting prowess, I cannot think of anyone else as Ravana. Other choices would be Amitab Bachan, Chiranjeevi or Kamalahassan. I have seen most of NTR’s epic movies in Tamil (Telugu I cannot understand that well) and he was a legendary actor.
what are your suggestions to aspiring writers? yes I am one among them, how do you think we need to proceed with our ideas? who is your favorite author? is there any specific reason why you like him/her/them?
Keep writing, keep editing and keep rewriting until you are sure of the quality of the work. Rewrite known books for practise and try to bring your own style and shut your ears to criticism. Write from your heart and live the moment when you write something.
There are many favourite authors. Rather, there are many favourite books. I read a lot. Apart from Indian classics and epics, I love Midnight’s children, War and Peace, Lord of the flies, Great Gatsby, freedom at midnight, God of small things, Mark Twain’s and P G Woodhouse’s most books, Agatha Christie’s most books, Somerset Maugham, Kafka, O Henry, Jeffery archer’s short stories (not novels though), Michael Chriton, Basheer, M T Vasudevan Nair, Catch 22- the list is endless.
I understand that you were working for IOCL. I am just curious to know how this writing happened? what made you chose this alternate profession?
I am still working for IOCL. Writing happened by itself, initially as a time pass, later as a passion which possessed me. Now, I write on most days. I wish I could be a full time writer.
10 years back did you think you would be amongst top writers in India? 10 years ahead where do you see yourself?
No, I had not thought about that. It just happened. 10 years ahead, I do not know. However, now I dream of a being a writer who would be read many centuries after my times, just like I am being read today.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I would only say that, read Ajaya with an open mind. It is from Kaurava’s side, so what used to be white may turn to be grey and what used to be dark may also become grey, because the light is shone from another angle and shadows and figures may change places in this new light.
Thank you answering my questions. we wish you a good luck for AJAYA.
Thank you for your wishes and your interview questions that helped me to know more about my thoughts.
Please ready my review on Asura here.. and I am sure Ajaya is going to be still great.. you can buy these books from here and here. I am sure for his humbled nature, Anand will go long way in his writing career.. wishing him all the good luck..