Everything Becomes A Myth One Day, Says Anand Neelakantan
While many technology and management professionals venture into fiction writing in India, fame rests upon only a few writers, who can make it big in terms of success and reputation. Anand Neelkantan is a writer, who boasts name and fame in the world of fiction writing. His debut novel Asura: Tale of the Vanquished was a breakout hit and hit the list of bestsellers of 2012. In AJAYA: Epic of the Kaurava Clan - Roll Of The Dice, Neelkantan recreated the magic and this too went on to become a successful story. Indian mythology is a pool of inspiration for Neelkantan, who weaves engaging plots to revisit historical events with a complete new perspective. In this exclusive chat with Infibeam, Anand Neelkantan talks about his love for writing, his passion for Indian mythology and why epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat are great source of inspiration for people today.
Que: Many IITians and IIM graduates become writers today. Do you think that you are following the trend? OR writing has been your passion?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: I am not a graduate from IIT or IIM, I have done my engineering from Government Engineering College, Trichur, Calicut University, Kerala. I believe writing has nothing to do with qualification and writers come from all walks of life. Writing has always been my passion and I did Engineering to get a job and make a living.
Que: Indian Mythology is the flair of the season. After Mehula series, your stories are sold well in book stores.
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Indian mythology is an ocean of stories and it has always been an inspiration for writers in most Indian languages. A good book will sell irrespective of its genre.
Que: With myth, everything becomes possible. Your comment on Claude Levi Strauss' observation.
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Everything becomes a myth one day. It is just the play of time.
Que: Bhasa, one of the celebrated Indian playwrights in Sanskrit used to brand villains as heroes in his dramas. How Ajaya is different from plays written by Bhasa?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Bhasa's Oorubhanga is a one act play, depicting the last scene of Duryodhana's life. Bhasa is always an inspiration for all mythologists. After two thousand years, his take on mythology appears more modern than most of the present day writers. Ajaya is different in the sense that it is Mahabharata seen from the angle of not only Duryodhana, but also other characters like Karna, Ekalavya, Aswathamma and a common man Jara.
Que: What makes you think (or believe) that ancient scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata are relevant even after thousands of years?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Look around and one need not think or believe. It is a fact. Ramayana and Mahabharata are a part of day to day life. Without these epics, all Indian languages will lose its colour.
Que: Do you think that fiction based on mythology strikes a chord with Indian youth?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: A good story will always strike a chord with youth of any time in any country.
Que: What is the biggest challenge before you while writing Asura & Ajaya? Were you apprehensive of themes you have chosen?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Counter telling or Prati Vada is a part of Indian culture. Hindu mind has the capability to hold opposing concepts and be in home with both. The questions I ask in Asura or Ajaya are the questions that most of the people would have asked in their youth or most of the youth are asking now. I have just put them in a logical pattern. The questioning of our scriptures is a part of our tradition. There is nothing called blasphemy in Hinduism.
Que: What motivated you to write this book?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: My love for mythology, my family back ground, the village I grew up where Puranas are still a living tradition and my fondness for the so called villains.
Que: What do you intend to express through the book?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: If a reader is not able to understand what I am trying to express through the book, it means I have failed as a writer. My book is my expression.
Que: You would like to be remembered as - an engineer or a writer?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: If I wanted to be remembered as an Engineer, would I be writing stories? Writer, obviously.
Que: Any message for Indian readers?
Mr. Anand Neelakantan: Please read my books with an open mind. I am not only aiming for entertainment, so if the book slows down in some chapters, it is because I want you to think with me. It is in the purest Indian tradition of Vada and Prati Vada.