May 12, 2017
Amish Tripathi speaks about his second book, Sita- Warrior of Mithila from the Ramchandra series, his narration techniques and his real life inspirations
He has been hailed as India’s first literary pop star and after the super success of his Shiv Trilogy; Amish Tripathi is currently exploring his next literary journey by retelling the Ramayana. While his first book from the second series, Ram- Scion of Ikshvaku went on to become the highest selling books of the year, he is now all set to release his second book of the series, Sita – Warrior of Mithila. In a candid conversation, he speaks his heart out about Lady Sita of his book, his respect for Indian culture and more. Excerpts from the interview…
What can the readers expect from SITA – Warrior of Mithila? How different is she from the one that we have known?
The version that we have of Sita Ma in today’s time is that of television serials. The 1980s’ Ramayana is based on the modernisation of the original Valmiki’s Ramayana, called the Ramcharitramanas. But in very ancient Ramayana, Sita Ma is a very strong character and she is shown as a warrior in them. In my book, Sita Ma is a strong woman, a warrior, an adopted child who rises to be the warrior Prime Minister.
Tell us something about the multi-linear technique of narration you have adopted in this series.
In the Shiva series, I have used the linear narrative where there is one long story divided into three books. In Ramchandra series, I am experimenting with a different narrative technique called the multi-linear narrative. The first book started from the birth of Lord Ram till the kidnapping of Sita Ma, the second book starts from the birth of Sita Ma till her kidnapping and the third book will starts from the birth of Ravana till kidnapping of lady Sita. The fourth and fifth book will be a common narrative, the fifth book being the last one. This is perhaps very rare and complex way of narrating a story. It has not been used in India too much but it is common abroad. It is real fun to write it like this and I feel my readers love complex things.
With just one series you had already become one of India’s most bankable authors. Were you in any kind of pressure when it came to writing your second series on Ram?
Not at all. When I am writing I don’t think about how the readers, critics or the publishers will react or think. I write on what feels right to me. So that way I think writing is the best part of my life. I don’t feel any kind of nervousness or pressure because while writing I don’t think about how it will be received.
One thing that made your Shiva series an instant hit is its relatibility. You humanised him so that readers can relate to him. Same is the case with your second series. Was this a conscious effort?
The concept of localising and modernising myths has been in India for thousands of years. Ramcharitramanas which is written by Tulsidas ji in the 16th century was a localisation of the original Valmiki Ramayana. There is also this Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil that was written by Sri Kambar ji which is a modernisation of the Valmiki Ramayana. This idea has always been in India. There are many examples like these not only in Ramayana but also in Mahabharata and all the stories of our Puranas as well. So we have this tradition of keeping the soul alive while modernising and adding something new to bring in the new generation into it. It makes them relatable to them. In that sense what I am trying to do, in my very small way, is follow the ancient tradition. I genuinely worship our Gods and Goddesses and I am very proud of our culture. I am just trying to tell stories of that time in a modernised manner. That is what exactly I am trying to do.
Religion is a touchy subject in India. Do you have any kind of inhibitions while writing on subjects related to Gods and Goddesses?
I did not have any kind of inhibitions or reservations while writing on these subjects. On the contrary, I feel if you want to write books like these, India is probably one of the best countries to do so. We are living in a very liberal culture. Being able to accept different points of views, this is liberalism. So that there can be multiple truths. This is quintessentially Indian. In India we are comfortable with multiple truths so I don’t think anybody should have a problem. The only condition is whatever interpretation you do, it should be right and written with respect. I am not writing to create controversies or in a disrespectful manner. I have been writing for so long now and never have I courted controversy.
You have made heroes out of Gods and Goddesses we worship so that we can connect to them. Who are your heroes in real life?
My real life heroes are my family. All of them including my parents, my immediate family, my wife, kids are my real life heroes.
Films made on bestselling novels are on a roll these days. So if ever a film is made on your book, what according to you will work in its favour?
The fact that it is so deeply connected to our roots, will work in its favour. Regardless of the language spoken, regardless of the region, religion or social class, who in India does not love Lord Shiva, Lord Ram and lady Sita? Their stories and they are deeply connected to our roots.