29 December, 2015

#Interview with Jagmohan Bhanver, #Author of The Curse of Brahma

The man who became a Brahmarishi...
The curse that banished him to the hell of hells...
And the revenge that threatens to destroy the three worlds...

When Lord Brahma, the God of Creation, banishes his star pupil from Swarglok in a fit of rage, he does not foresee that his decision will alter the fate of the three worlds. Mortally wounded, and anguished at Brahma's unfair punishment, his pupil struggles to survive in Tamastamah Prabha, the hell of hells. In time, he becomes the Dark Lord, the most feared figure in Pataal Lok, who swears to destroy Brahma.

The power of the Dark Lord soon begins to make its presence felt in the mortal world. Vasudev, the brave prince of Bateshwar, becomes the hunter of Asura assassins; his closest friend, Kansa, almost dies while trying to save his sister from a group of deadly monsters; and the most valiant kings in Mrityulok turn over to the dark side, driven by forces beyond their control.

Only one person threatens the Dark Lord's well-laid plans - Devki, the beautiful princess of Madhuvan, who is destined to give birth to the warrior Krishna.

Will the Dark Lord allow Krishna - the person who has been prophesied to destroy him - to be born?

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I started writing at the age of 12. But I had been a story teller much before that. Ask my mother and she will tell you the stories I told her to keep away from being punished :)
On a serious note, writing served to calm me, right from my early years. I used to read a lot. I started reading classics at a very early age and if I remember correctly, I had finished most of the English classics by the time I was fifteen. Thereon, I moved to Russian literature and by 17 I was done with that. It was only then that I picked up a few old texts form Indian authors and realized that Indian stories had a charm of their own. And they stood up to the likes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bronte sisters, Dickens, Eliot and Hardy. 
I knew then that I had stories to tell and that there was a surge of them waiting to erupt. Till then I used to narrate stories to friends during the lonely long hours of hostel life and later after work. But I finally decided to start putting them down on paper around 2001. And that got me to seriously start thinking of leaving banking and making some sea changes to my life. 

What inspires you to write?
There are a multitude of stories hidden away in the recesses of my mind. And when an idea gets hold of me, it is like being driven by an ague. You can’t sleep, you can’t think of anything else. You have to write. And writing provides succor and peace. 
The experience of seeing your characters come to life on paper is the biggest high. Creating a story where none existed before, is another. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Living in UP (Uttar Pradesh) where I spent majority of my earlier life, it was impossible not to have heard of Krishna. Moreover, with the name that I have (Jag-Mohan), it was natural for everyone during childhood to jestingly comment that I was behaving like Krishna and that I was his namesake. 
So, I just happened to get very close to the subject of Krishna from a very early age. As I grew older and read more about Krishna, I realized there was far more to him than we made it out to be. I resolved to research this. 
Therefore when I took a sabbatical from my banking career in 2004, I started reading whatever material I could find on Krishna, including Vedic texts that date back thousands of years. 
And I realized that the story of Krishna as we know it could well be a myth....that the actual story might in fact have been so terrifying that history was compelled to hide the truth. After all, when we are talking of time dating back thousands of years, who can be certain where fact ends, and fiction begins. 
I had a two-fold objective in writing the Krishna trilogy. One, to tell my version of the truth! And secondly, to narrate it in a way that can appeal to the young of our country. A lot of us have lost interest in our culture because the way our old stories are narrated has not changed over time. Our children are happy reading about Greek mythology and Roman characters because those stories are written and narrated in a contemporary manner. All books in the Krishna trilogy have been written in a manner that it excites our readers and encourages them to take pride in our culture. Also, earlier it was the natural responsibility of grandparents to imbue the young with a sense of their culture. With families getting increasingly fragmented, tales told to children earlier by older members now require another medium to do so. The change in family structures has compelled writers like me to re-tell our ancient stories, blending research with imagination.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes, there are many. I have more than two dozen stories waiting in my Book concepts” folder in the laptop. Some days, I feel I need to have a few more lives to be able to put all of them on paper. Maybe some day, a few of these will get written. 
But for the next five years, I already have a few books that demand to be narrated. These will get done first :)

Tell us about your writing process.
You see, unlike majority of the Indian authors, I do both, non fiction as well as fiction. The writing style varies in both cases. 
When I write nonfiction, I select a subject that I have deep expertise in. Therefore, when I wrote Think your way to Millions, I was one of the handful of people in the country who knew about behavioral finance (the subject of that book). Or when I penned down Get Happy Now, I had just come out of the unhappiest phase of my life and I was in a zone where I had been able to live through it, and even be happy. I felt it put me in a position here I could share the same concepts with others. When Hachette India asked me to write about Satya Nadella & Microsoft or about Sundar Pichai & Google, they did so because they knew I understood biographies and the tech sector really well. So expertise is key when I do non fiction. 
Fiction is a different matter altogether. For me, if it is a piece of fiction, it ought to be an idea that I am really passionate about. It needs to get into every part of my system, my mind for me to write it. If it doesn’t stop me from sleeping or doing anything else that I do on a regular day, then the idea is worthless for me. 
When I decided to dedicate eight years of my life to researching Krishna, I did it because I knew I would not be at peace till I had done it and written the Krishna Trilogy. 
So writing fiction for me is a way to calm myself, to be at peace with the demons inside. To create stories where none existed before and give life to characters that can touch the heart of the reader. If I can create a character that resonates with the reader; makes them love the character even if the character is evil, then the purpose has been served. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
So, there is this scene where Kansa and his sister (Devki) meet. She has come to share something with him and she is worried about him. However, when she sees Kansa, she sees a changed man; someone who has metamorphosed from the caring and compassionate Prince of Madhuvan into a creature she cannot recognize anymore. She loves him and she hates him. She is scared for him and yet at the same time she is also fearful for his own safety. It’s a classic scene where a hundred emotions intertwine, and one doesn’t know any longer who is right or wrong.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
The Dark Lord (Amartya Kalyanesu) has a bit of me. And I think so does Kansa and Vasudeva. They have my tender side and also a bit of my dark one. I think when you write with your heart and soul, you find facets of yourself that you had never known existed earlier. And some of that finds its way into your characters. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know what I am going to write till I have written it. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I am going to do to the character in a particular scene. I allow myself to get into the zone and then the story unravels itself. All I have to do is type fast enough to capture it. That to me is the strangest and the most fulfilling thing about the way I write. The story tells itself. I keep pace with putting it down. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
For as far back as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. As a child I used to find solace in reading because I did not have many friends. Later I read because it was an integral part of who I had become. I read on an average 100 books a year and I think it has been this way for as long as I can recall. 
My favorite authors are Charles Dickens, Thomas, Hardy, Rohinton Mistry,, Hemingway, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Prem Chand. The list is endless. 
You become what you read! So I guess my personality to an extent has been shaped by what I have read. And somehow that finds its way into what I write too. So, I focus on relationships. It could be a mythological fiction or a love story or a crime novel. But for me, delineating the relationships and what is going on in the mind of the character becomes paramount. 
If you read The Curse of Brahma (Vol 1 in the Krishna Trilogy), you will realize what I am talking about. Even a character likes Kansa evokes love and sympathy. And that is because of the way his relationships with people around him have been developed, or the insights one gets into his mind as one reads the story. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
I don’t take advice on writing, actually. Writing is a very personal thing. To me, it’s sacred…like marriage. One evolves one’s own way of dealing with it and enjoying it. One doesn’t take advice on it. It’s not arrogance. It’s about respecting your own art and being true to it. When you do that, you do well. Not necessarily be any one else’s standards. But certainly by your own. And in the end, that is very important. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
As I said, writing is personal. One shouldn’t give or take advice on it. If however, you would want me to share a few things I have picked up on the way, I could do that.  The decision to follow it lies with the other person.
If you are writing nonfiction, select a subject where you are the expert. If it is fiction that you want to focus on, write about what you are passionate about. Don’t emulate the writing style of other authors Develop your own brand of writing and your own expression. There’s a greater chance of being recognized that way. And finally, don’t wait for the perfect moment to start writing. The perfect moment seldom happens. Make time to write. Use the weekend or the flight time or any other time you can make use of. But start writing!

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
The book has too many characters to put them all down. But if I had a choice it would be something like this. Varun Dhawan or Aamir Khan would do great as Krishna. Deepika Padukone as Rukmani. Arjun Rampal as Kansa. Priyanka Chopra as Devki. The Dark Lord (Amartya Kalyanesu) I am not too certain; that’s a very complex character, but perhaps Siddharth Malhotra. Saif Ali Khan as Vasudev. 

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
If I can’t carry people with me, then it would be my laptop (with unlimited battery supply), music and tones of toilet paper. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Whatever free time I have, I prefer to spend with my wife, kids and my Labrador. It could be anywhere. Could be a beach or a mountain resort. 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
Haha. As long as I don’t get sued on this one…. 
ONE: I have suffered from some OCDs since childhood. Some of them are downright funny. I remember as an 11 eleven old I used to have this obsessive urge to keep turning around and staring at the passenger sitting behind me in the bus. Sounds funny now, used to be crazy back then. 
TWO:  I like to have the best part of my food, right at the end of the meal, preferring to eat the lesser tasty stuff before that. So most occasions by the time I reach the end, the guys in the hostel used to gobble up the rest of it. These days my kids and my Labrador do that :)
THREE: I have this thing about calling up people (family, close friends) and speaking as someone else in a different voice and tone. It gets really hilarious at times when they don’t know who is calling and you feed them all manner of information that has the potential to surprise and shock them. Of course, I avoid meeting them for a bit after that. You never know who might want to hit you on the head for this :)

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Pichai – The future of Google (with Hachette) – releasing Dec 2015
Click (with Hachette) releasing in April 2016
The Rise of the Yadavas (Vol 2 in the Krishna Trilogy) – releasing in April 2016

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Live the life you dream of leading; 
Be the person you want others to be;
Don’t miss the woods, getting entangled in the trees;
Smile more, even when you don’t feel like it;
Love others, and you will fall in love with yourself too
Love yourself, and you will find it easier to love others too!

About the Author:

Jagmohan’s first book (self help genre) titled "Get Happy Now" was on the best selling lists of most countries and on the Top ten list of leading bookstores in India. His second book, titled "Think your way to Millions" which is on the subject of Behavioral Finance was nominated for the best non-fiction award by Hutch-Crossword in India. This is one of the few books on behavioral finance. His third book was titled “Nadella – The Changing Face of Microsoft.” This book was published by Hachette, the largest publishers in the world. Jagmohan’s latest book is part of a three-volume trilogy on Krishna and is considered as the most awaited book in 2015. It is titled, “The Curse of Brahma.” 


- 500 INR Flipkart Voucher
- Signed Paperback of the Book
(Open to Indian Residents Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. I'm happy to be introduced to this book, it's got me interested.