We know all the story of The Great Rama and his epic victory on Lanka. The Tale of how the Prince of Ayodhya conquered the greatest evil Ravana is a legendary one. Ramayana has been narrated to us throughout ages and Rama the avatar of Vishnu is worshipped by all Indians.
But there’s a twist in the Tale…..
What if Ravana was not the Villian?
What if Ravana turned against the gods to save a dying race?
What if Ravana was just a hero as Rama for Ayodha for the people of Asura?
Well these questions will certainly make you curious..
There is a new Book Our Bestseller Charts Titled Asura: Tale of The Vanquished. It is the story of Ravana and his people which has never been told by anyone.
We got candid with the author Anand Neelakantan who hails from a small village near Cochin and spends his free times cartooning and on oil paintings. He has grown on these stories and since the last 6 years had nightmares of Ravana pleading to tell his side of the story to the world.
He says very modestly that he works at an MNC just to put food on his dining table but he definitely enjoys writing to the fullest.
Here are the excerpts of his Interview.
1. Do you feel after your story of Ravan can he be looked in a different light by the people who have always out casted him as a villain in the Ramayana?
Though Ravana was considered as evil incarnate, there always was some admiration lurching behind the hatred. Ravana was never an ordinary Villain. Accomplished Scholar, great musician, pious Bhaktha of Shiva- India has celebrated this most infamous villain in various ways over the last three thousand years or more. The heroism of the hero is proportional to the greatness of the villain. Ramayana works in the classic formula of an ordinary man challenging the might of a great emperor and winning against all odds. The God and Devil angle might have developed later.
What I have attempted is to reverse the gaze. Here an ordinary person is fighting his war against all odds, against the god incarnate and his mighty army. More than this war with others, he has to fight a war within himself, with his conscience, with his values and with his dreams. I have also tried to view Ramayana, through the eyes of an ordinary and poor Asura- Bhadra, who adds another perspective to the story. Usually, epics are the stories of great men and their deeds. In the cacophony of heroism, divinity, demons, right, wrong, white, dark etc, the voice of the common man remains silent in any epic. But if we listen carefully, a faint voice can be heard. My Bhadra is the magnification of that feeble voice of such insignificant men.
I have tried to give more importance to humanity than divinity. My attempt is to view the events in this great epic rationally. Putting simply, Asura is the child of the thought-‘Why it could not have happened like this?’. A mark of a great literature is its power to change perceptions and thinking. Every author thinks that his piece of literature is a good one. I am no exception to it. However, it is in the hands of time to prove me right or wrong.
2. How important was for you to tell this story?
It was that important for making me toil six long years in writing it. It was that important for me to challenge every belief I have grown up with. It was that important for me to spend sleepless nights thinking like the Asura emperor or the poor Bhadra. Asura, I believe is as ancient as humanity and at the same time, it is as modern as possible. Writing is a painful process. But it is a pain that I enjoy. I write only when my thoughts become so painful that, unless I put it into words I will get choked.
3. What are some of the unique characteristics of Ravana Outlined by you in the book?
Ravana is neither the demon as portrayed in the traditional Ramayanas nor is he the great hero who could do no wrong, as some Dravidian movements had tried to portray him a few decades back. In Asura, Ravana is man who lifts himself from abject poverty to become spectacularly successful through his determination, hard work and his strong sense of destiny. He starts of an idealistic youth, but gets lost in the labyrinth of power, and desperately tries to reclaim his ideals when it is too late. He is shown as an ordinary man who succeeds extraordinarily, but who gets corrupted by power. Despite this he manages to retain some shred of humanity till the last. On his positive sites, he is determined, intelligent, learned, brave, idealistic and passionate about life. On his negative side, he is a megalomaniac, arrogant, proud, and sometimes very naïve. History abounds with such characters like Napoleon, Alexander, Raja Chola etc.
4. What are some of the interesting comments you have got from your readers?
As it can be seen in various websites and reviews, mostly the comments have been positive. People have commented that the story has the power to change perception. I was also delighted to hear a few of the critical comments that said that though I have forgotten what Ramayana actually means and the story is based on my wrong understanding of the great epic, my narration skills are excellent and the book is a great read. One reader had written to me saying though he does not agree with even a single sentence in the book, he wanted to congratulate me for the good narrative and the logical arguments challenging the traditional Ramayana.
I was apprehensive that a bulky book of 500 pages, that deals with Ramayana, a story that has been told innumerable times will not find much favour with the young crowd who enjoy the light reads that gets mass produced these days. However, the response have been so overwhelming that the book is in third reprint now with more than 15000 copies sold so far in seven weeks.
5. A para or a verse that you would like to quote from your book?
It is not the Gods or God men that my country lacks. It only lacks real men.
6. Your views on your book being on Our Crossword Bestseller charts?
It is a special feeling which is difficult to express in words. I will try to tell you why this is so special. Crossword has always been in the front of encouraging good writing in India. The Crossword award is proof enough for that. The customers, who frequent crossword and I am one among them, are very discerning and choosy. Mostly the purchase decisions from the bookshops are made after lot of thoughts. It is rarely an impulse purchase over the click of a mouse. You have to really love books to drive in the pounding monsoon, visit the shop, and stand in the queue and crowd. You have to be passionate about the smell of the books. If someone who spends time in sampling the blurb and a few pages of the book, and then again spend more time to compare them with other books in the shelf and then finally decide to purchase it, she should have liked what she could sample. So every purchase from crossword is special, in a way that could never be said about other modes of purchase.
It is such discerning customers of crossword have made my book Asura a best seller. I feel it is as special as any literary award and a great encouragement for debut writer like me. I would not mind spending many more sleepless nights for such success.
7. Do you plan on sticking to the Mythological genre?
My publisher, Leadstart publishing Ltd is publishing my second book by this time, next year. It is on the next great epic and needless to say, I will be trying to view it from the other side. I do not have any plans to stick on to one particular genre, though I am passionate about mythology. I would love to write a satirical version on Indian Politics after my second book and another one spanning five generation, a semi-autobiographical one, that will portray my city of Cochin. Cochin is a city having a colourful history of many centuries and it will be fun writing about it in a wide panoramic background of my main story. Finally, when I am confident enough, I will pen down a children’s book. I believe, writing a quality children’s novel is the most difficult of all writings. Whenever I tend to forget this theory, my daughter and son are there to remind me this quite forcefully. Most nights, when I sit down to tell stories to them, I find them to be more difficult to please than my strict editor or even the most critical reader-s.
Publisher :Leadstart publishing
Price: Rs 250
Signing off for Now..
Until Next Time