Even in the words of the best-selling author Amish Tripathi, the third book in the Ram Chandra series, after Ram-Scion of Ikshvaku and Sita-Warrior of Mithila is very dark. Naturally, we can’t help but wonder if it built on the back of dark experiences in the author’s life.
Author Amish Tripathi, who was in the city to launch his latest book Raavan-The Enemy of Aryavarta, spoke at length about his latest book, his experiences that gave birth to this story and more.
“Raavan-The Enemy of Aryavarta is undoubtedly a very dark book. Sadly for me, penning this book coincided with a personal down point too, so also, I believe I took back a lot from this writing process. For one, I’ve understood that everyone experiences grief. But I also learnt that the kind of reaction Raavan had to grief, which is anger and vengeance, should be avoided,” says the author.
A nuanced take on a demon king
The Ram Chandra series, which is a 1,500-year prequel to the author’s Shiva Trilogy, has been narrated in a multilinear format, offering a much deeper understanding of its principle characters. The first one Ram-Scion of Ikshvaku, for instance, was all about Lord Ram, from his birth to Sita’s kidnapping. The second in the series, Sita-Warrior of Mithila, was about Sita, beginning from her birth to her kidnapping. Raavan-Enemy of Aryavarta also charts his character from his birth till the time he kidnaps Sita.
And 44-year-old Amish says he has tried his best to be nuanced about his portrayal of the Lanka king. “In modern times, Raavan’s seen in a simplistic manner, in an almost one-dimensional mould. But he has so much more to offer than being type-cast as the evil one. I don’t deny that he has his share of negatives, but there’s no denying that he has strengths. Even Lord Ram had acknowledged Raavan’s knowledge. My book showcases his strengths and weaknesses. For one, Raavan has a huge ego problem. As individuals, it’s best we learn that if someone, even as supremely talented as Raavan, doesn’t get a grip on his ego, it will lead to a huge problem. Second, anger has a purpose, but unrelenting anger can become corrosive, taking you down with it, and that’s where Raavan had gone wrong. Raavan was also brutally violent, almost enjoying the violence. I don’t think extreme non-violence is good but I also don’t think extreme violence is good because it can lead to chaos,” shares Amish.
Tackling his own demons
Amish is an author who always stuck to his one-and-a-half-year writing time policy. So what caused the delay with this one? “I’ve never faced a writer’s block before this, but there was this one phase in the middle of this book, when I was not in a good place for a few months. And I was in a bit of a difficult situation around then, and writing was my escape plan. But I guess the drawback of creativity for a creative person is that at the end of the day, it can affect one’s mind too,” explains the author.
So what helped him come out of it, we wonder. Does he have a writing process, a room perhaps? “I don’t have a process per se; stories just come to me and I can write anywhere. I don’t need any particular room either, but music helps. Surprisingly, this time too, it was a song that helped me get out of the state I was in. My twin brother and I were watching TV, and there was a song that came up, and in the first 15 seconds, I was hooked to it. I listened to it on a loop as I was walking in the park for almost an hour. I remember I was crying. And like magic I wrapped up the next 3-4 chapters within no time,” Amish elaborates.
All the stories to tell
Amish has already started working on his next book, which will maintain a common narrative till the death of Raavan. But does he fear a backlash for the story given the times we live in? “I am very proud of our culture and I have always written my books in respectfully — yes, through a different perspective-but always respectfully. Fortunately, Indians have a liberal approach towards religion and respect other’s perspectives,” says the author. But would there be a cinematic take on any of his books? “The challenge for my books is that they require a large-scale production. There was a time when Karan Johar had taken the rights and was talking of Hrithik Roshan to play Lord Shiva, but that didn’t materialise. So there’s another talk going on now; let’s see what happens,” says Amish.
Even as he hopes that his latest book does well, Amish shares his love for the city. “For one, I have family here, for my sister-in-law is from Hyderabad. But I also believe that Hyderabad readers are fantastic, and my books do amazingly here. I am always happy to come back,” he says, signing off....