A professional who belonged to the financial service sector prior to his venture into writing, Amish Tripathi surprised the Indian literary scene when his first book, “The Immortals of Meluha,” broke into the top sellers chart in February 2010, that too within a week of its launch. The bestseller was also a “surprise” because it had been rejected by more than 20 publishers before it hit the market.
The book is about the adventures of Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity, with Tripathi’s re-imagination of the myths. It is the first installment of the Shiv Trilogy, which was followed by “The Secret of the Nagas,” released in September 2011. The final installment, “The Oath of the Vayuputras,” is slated to be released at the end of 2012.
As of August 2012, the first two books have crossed a print run of 700,000 copies. The popularity of the first installment made its sequel equally popular before its release, making them the most-awaited books in India.
As of August 2012, his first two books in the “Shiv Trilogy” have crossed a print run of 700,000 copies. His upcoming book and the final installment of the trilogy “The Oath of Vayuputras” is already the most awaited book.
The thirty-seven-years-old author will soon be visiting Nepal to mark his presence at this year’s Ncell Nepal Literature Festival which is taking place from September 20-23.
The Week’s Asmita Manandhar had a conversation with Tripathi through Skype to get insights into his literary endeavors. Here are the excerpts:
With no formal training or a background in writing, how did you decide to write a novel, that too a trilogy?
I genuinely believe that was a blessing from Lord Shiva. Though I had no experience in writing, I was born into a very religious family, and since my childhood, I was acquainted with religious books and Hindu myths. And history was something I was very passionate about, so I devoured books on history from a very early age. I think these two variables were the boost for writing the Shiva trilogy.
Why did you choose to rewrite the myths of Shiva, of all the Hindu gods?
When I had started the book, it wasn’t anything like the present one. I had earlier written a book on philosophy of evil, but I later thought it wasn’t a good idea. And so I started writing the books that centered on the adventures of Shiva. Though the books are fiction, there’s a part of philosophy underlined in them. It was a matter of revising and revisiting the core idea.
How was your experience while writing the books, especially when you were a novice when you started?
I was stunned with how the story proceeded. The story got hold of me, and writing became a means of happiness and joy. Even when the first book was rejected by most publishers, I didn’t stop thinking about the second book. It was something for me that I should do, without thinking about the results. I felt like I was following the famous line from the Shreemad Bhagvat Gita which says, “Do your duty without worrying about the outcome.”
You were credited for a fierce marketing strategy for the “Immortals of Meluha.” Why did you think it was necessary, and how important is it for a book?
When you begin anything, I believe you should do it with complete commitment. Therefore, I found it necessary to put my heart and soul into the book. And as the Bhagvat Gita also mentions, even though you don’t worry about the outcome, it’s necessary to do your duty to your best possible ability, and I simply followed the code.
Also, I realized that Indian publishers don’t focus extensively on marketing, which is a major drawback for any book. It’s a fallacy to think that a good book sells without any effort. There are many wonderful books which should’ve topped the bestsellers chart but due to bad marketing, many people haven’t even heard of them. So I deeply feel professional marketing strategies are very important for a book.
Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions is making a movie out of the first book. Do you think the movie will come to your expectations?
I’ve met Karan and his team, and they were undoubtedly passionate about the book and the story. I believe that when you’re passionate about any venture, half the work is already accomplished. Also, when you’ve decided to work with a group of people, it’s very important to trust them, and I entirely support the team for the movie.
When you were rewriting the myths, that too fictionalizing the characters from modern perspectives, did it ever occur to you that this may spark controversies among the believers of the faith?
It’s been three years since the first book was published but there’s no trace of controversy till now; and honestly I’m not surprised. In Hinduism, the retelling of religious events isn’t a new concept at all. If we take examples of Ramayan, there are many versions of the religious texts. In North India, people follow the Balmiki Ramayan while South Indians refer to the Kamba Ramayan. There are certain differences in them. Also, the creation of the world has been differently put in the Shiv Puran and Brahma Puran, almost contradicting each other.
So I was pretty sure people would accept and enjoy the versions of Shiva’s adventures I’ve portrayed in my books.
Even though you were brought up in a religious family, you’ve said that you were an atheist before writing the book but you have now turned into a believer. How did the transition take place?
My family is extremely religious but they are also extremely liberal. They are religious but they aren’t extremists. So I had my choice over religious beliefs. But in the process of writing the books, I rediscovered my faith in Lord Shiva. It was a natural process; that’s how I would like to put it.
What are your expectations from the Ncell Nepal Literature Festival and your visit to Nepal?
This is the first time I’m coming to Nepal. So I’m pretty much excited. When I think of Nepal, I visualize mountains and natural beauty and I’m also looking forward to experiencing it finally. Also, the Pashupatinath Temple is going to be a big part of my visit.
About the literature festival, honestly, I haven’t read any of Nepali books. So I’m taking the visit as an opportunity to explore Nepali literature. I have plans to buy a lot of books when I’m in Nepal. I’m looking forward to my discussion sessions as well.