From facing rejection to his work being taken up for film adaptations, it’s a dream come true for Amish Tripathi
In early 90s, when Mumbai was ravaged by serial bomb blasts, Amish Tripathi and his friends were put off by religion. “We were in college; my friends and I blamed religion for what was happening in Mumbai. My father tried explaining that it wasn’t religion but people misusing religion who needed to be blamed. I didn’t buy his argument. I turned an atheist,” says Amish. Writing the Meluha trilogy turned out to be a personal journey that made him a believer again.
The Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta) graduate and former banker is on the verge of announcing the release of the third book of his trilogy, The Oath of The Vayuputras. “A formal date will be announced soon,” he maintains. Amish’s priority at the moment lies in promoting regional translations of Immortals of Meluha. The author was in Hyderabad to launch the Telugu translation at Oxford Bookstore, The Park. Translated by Rama Sundari and published by BCS Publishers and Distributors (Rs. 225), the book has sold more than 5000 copies in a month and is awaiting its second print order of 10,000 copies.
After Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati versions, translations in Bengali, Assamese, Tamil and Bahasa Indonesia are in the pipeline. The English editions of both his books (Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of The Nagas) have sold around 8 to 8.5 lakh copies and Amish believes the translation will help tap vernacular markets. “I firmly believe in the power of Indian languages and by saying this, I don’t mean to disrespect English,” says Amish. While he leaves it to the discretion of publishers to choose authors for the translations, he is firm with two guidelines, “The language has to be simple and the author has to approach the subject with some respect since it deals with lord Shiva.”
Amish is aware of the need for good marketing to sell his books but when he writes, he approaches it purely as a creator. “You cannot do market research and write,” he says, talking about the days when his work was rejected by more than 20 publishers who felt his Meluha series will neither address young adults (due to its mythological content) nor will it appeal to literati (owing to its simple language).
How he risked publishing Immortals of Meluha himself and the book becoming a success story has been much written about. The underlining thought of Bhagvad Gita on karma kept him going through the tough phase. “People tend to misinterpret Gita’s ideology of focusing on karma and not expecting its fruits. What it means is to detach yourself from success and failure to avoid both pride and dejection, which can distract you from karma,” says Amish. Being a risk-averse banker, he didn’t quit his job before his books got published. “Like most middle class Indians, I didn’t have inherited fortune to fall back on. It would have been irresponsible of me to quit my job leaving my family to struggle,” he says.
The author will be the script consultant for the film adaptation of Immortals of Meluha (to be produced by Karan Johar) and talks are on for an international adaptation as well. “Inshallah things should go well. I didn’t know if my book would get published and now we are on the verge of film adaptations. It’s like a dream, so don’t wake me up,” he laughs.
Myth and the truth
Amish believes his almost pop-like interpretation of mythology is not new. “People have re-told mythology over a 1000 times before. I think there is no better country than India for such a book,” he says, citing how each version of the Ramayana is different from the other. He gives more examples: “Brahma Purana or the ‘adi purana’, said to have been written 2500 years ago, has a reference to Sun Temple at Konark, built only 800 years ago. Does it mean we aren’t reading the original Brahma Purana and only a version edited much later? Again, the myth of creation as described in Brahma Purana differs from that of Shiva Purana. Indians understand that the core of myth is not the story but the truth. The task is to reach truth through different means,” says Amish.