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Going back to the source

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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CHAT Author Amish Tripathi feels that Indian literature is beginning to get rooted in the real India

REACHING OUTTo the real IndiaPhoto: Mitali Rajadithya
REACHING OUTTo the real IndiaPhoto: Mitali Rajadithya

Athinking audience is what author Amish Tripathi thought of the Bangalore junta who attended the recent Bangalore Literature Festival.

“Though I was only there for a day, I really liked the experience. The audience asked me questions that had to do with philosophy, the Upanishads, the Vedas and the meaning of mythology. I like conversations like that,” he shared over telephone.

Amish was one of the authors who took part in the festival in a tete-a-tete moderated by Deepthi Talwar.

“Another aspect of the festival that I liked was that it devoted time to Kannada literature. I think all lit fests should encourage regional language literature and translations and open up local cultures to India and the world.”

He observes how there is a growing number of young authors in India, who are being widely read. “That is good news because India is a young country and it needs new stories. And so many genres are opening up these days. There are good thrillers or mythology-based novels, which are doing well. It speaks of a vibrant reading culture in the country.”

And he finds that literature fests only serve to deepen the reading culture with the author interactions. These interactions, he feels, deepens the understanding of the underlying philosophy behind the writing and what the author is trying to say.

The growing instance of these lit fests also serves to break down the image that literature is an elitist pursuit.

“In the ancient times, bards went around singing the epics, which were storehouses of philosophy. It is only in the last over hundred years that literature has become elitist. That is not good because it is then cut off from the roots,” he explains. “Earlier the publishing industry was quite small. But now, partly because of these fests, the publishing industry is rooting itself in the real India.”

“This does not mean that we should be anti-West. There is a lot that we can learn from there. At the same time, we must be rooted in our culture. There are some things, like the caste system or the status of women, which must be opposed. Still there is greatness in our past. And we should be able to balance both.”

He points out that translations are a great way to learn about Indian culture. His own books, The Immortals Of Meluha and The Secret Of The Nagas (of the Shiva Trilogy, which have sold over 8,50,000 copies so far) are being translated into regional languages.

The Immortals Of Meluha is now out in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu. We hope to have the Bengali, Assamese and Tamil versions out soon. The Secret Of The Nagas has so far been translated in Hindi and the other translations are in progress.” This is Amish’s way of reaching out to newer audiences and having the book penetrate deeper into the “real India”.

As of the much-awaited third part of his Shiva Trilogy, Amish says he has just announced that it would be released in early-March. “The book has grown longer that I though it would be. There are 53 chapters, which makes it twice as long as the other books. I guess I wanted to say a very long good-bye to the trilogy,” he smiles.

He is not forthcoming about what readers can expect, except to say that “evil will be taken out of the equation. So there will be many brutal battles. After all, it is a war against evil”. Dharma Productions, which holds the movie rights to the Indian language versions of the books is now working on the script. “Once that is clear, we will move towards the pre-production stages,” he finishes.

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA

In the ancient times, bards went around singing the epics, which were storehouses of philosophy. It is only in the last over hundred years that literature has become elitist. That is not good because it is then cut off from the roots

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