Retelling the tales of Lord Shiva — in a modern, contemporary and relatable style and resensitising our minds to our rich cultural past — author Amish Tripathi has clearly brought mythology into the living room conversations and debates. First came The Immortals Of Meluha where Amish’s Shiva was stunningly depicted as a warrior. The success of the first book was no fluke as his next two offerings, The Secret Of The Nagas and The Oath Of The Vayuputras completed the trilogy trajectory entrenching Amish on the literary scene.
From an atheist to a believer
“I was never a creative person. I was an atheist for many years. I was totally left brain, academic-oriented. I don’t think I chose the artistic expression. The expression chose me. I didn’t even want to be an author,” he shares.
Amish grew up in a religious household. “My grandfather was a pundit and my parents are very religious. We are an academically obsessed family. Debates, discussion are an integral part of our life. At the same time, we are a very liberal family. The more religious you are, the more spiritual you get. That’s how I know about scriptures and mythology.”
“I stopped counting after 20 rejections. All of them felt that this was a religious book and the youth isn’t interested in religion so there was no hope for this book. To be honest, I don’t see my books as ‘religious’ even though I’m a devoted Shiva worshipper. It’s an adventure series. Finally, we self published it. The book picked up within the first week and the publishers who had rejected it came back for a transfer.”
Leaving a cushy job
“Financial services pay well. I come from a middle class background. I can’t say I was brave or romantic. I wrote the first two books along with my job. I didn’t resign with this romantic notion of writing. I resigned only when my royalty cheque crossed my salary slip. Now you can call me boring. I don’t have daddy’s money to survive.”
Critics don’t matter
“I don’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks of my writing. I am anyway not a social person. I can always go back to banking but will write the way I want. Once the book is finished, then of course I have to be a pragmatic marketer. Luckily, all three books have succeeded. I don’t know for how long the good run will continue. Maybe the next book will flop but I will continue to write the way I want to.”
The mythology movement
“I don’t think mythology ever went out of fashion in India. We are one of those rare civilisations with a culture spanning more than 5,000 years. We’ve kept our traditions alive. We allow our traditions to adapt with time and we are not rigid about it. Stories also modernise and localise, which keeps them alive. This tradition of modernising and localising mythology puts life back into it and makes it relevant once again. I primarily read non-fiction. I really like Devdutt Pattanaik and Ashok Banker.”
Meluha: The movie
“I’m there as a creative consultant so I’ve briefed them. They are scripting right now and they’ll run the script by me once it’s complete but I’m focused on my next book series. Karan Johar is producing it and Karan Malhotra is working on the script right now.”