From myth and fantasy to the graphic novel or children's fiction, Samit Basu wants to try them all
Locking myself for hours on end and coming out with a glazed look in the eye. That convinced all the relatives that I was doing drugs or something A Google search on Samit Basu tends to be mystifying as on the one hand there are gazillion references to the mind altering Simoquin Prophesies and on the other there are these very learned physics papers on all sorts of unpronounceable Greek thingies. So is the young Mr. Basu (he is 26) a Lewis Carroll kind of person alternating between stodgy papers on complex theorems and insane conversations, Jabberwockies and limericks? "I wish," says Samit with a wry grin. "There are two of us and I have had friends send me the physicist's photograph and tell me how I have changed!" In town for the launch of the sequel to Simoquin, The Manticore's Secret, Samit insists Simoquin "happened by itself. I have never been a fantasy fan per se. I would rather call myself a myth fan. As a child I travelled around Europe quite a bit and was greatly attracted to huge castles. What appeals to me about myth is the scale, the connections and the common ground between cultures around the world. So I thought why not write a multi-cultural fantasy bringing all myths into a gigantic cooking pot and stirring it up a bit. My life is anyway so boring that there is no way I could write the semi-autobiographical coming of age novel!" Hardly boring when you consider Samit left IIM (an act that has gained mythic status) to write. "I am so over that. One needs a certain degree of insanity. I made sure I burnt all my bridges. My immediate family were very supportive while the larger circles of aunts were convinced I needed therapy. It was fun acting extra eccentric. Locking myself for hours on end and coming out with a glazed look in the eye. That convinced all the relatives that I was doing drugs or something." Samit did not have any trouble finding a publisher for Simoquin, "it just took a long time. I sent my manuscript in April 2002 and it was accepted in December. There were not many changes. Just some violence the publishers (Penguin) found gratuitous, but I insisted it was central to the story!"After sending his manuscript, Samit went off to UK to study film though he prefers writing as "you are left on your own and do not have to deal with logistics." Samit is hopeful of a movie version of the novel. "It would have to be animation. I cannot imagine a regular Bollywood version of the film. For it to work, changes that would kill me would have to be made."
"Simoquin was fairly self-contained. I was happily treading on the shoulders of the greats and used parody a great deal. Tolkien set the template and one of the basic genre rules of fantasy is a trilogy so I kept all those loose ends in Simoquin to lead to the sequel." The sequel Samit says is, "less referential and darker."Expectations according to Samit are a "good thing. It keeps my wilder instincts in check like killing off the hero arbitrarily with a falling pebble or something. I do not suffer from a writer's block as much as a writer's execution syndrome. When you write four thousand words and feel it is all very bad, you just select all, delete." Next on the cards after the third book is either "a children's series or a graphic novel." A fan of Terry Pratchett, Samit says he writes for "people who love books," and is very pleased with being compared to Quentin Tarantino. "I love the totally pointless violence in his movies." And returning to his namesake physicist, "I am slowly taking over on Google but nothing less than world domination will satisfy me." That also seems on the way what with Simoquin being translated into Swedish, German and Spanish!MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER