On Author’s Circle today, meet author Jagmohan Bhanver, to talk about writing, life and his book
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?
1. So, what’s your new release about?
The Curse of Brahma is the title of the first volume in The Krishna Trilogy. It’s called that because the entire story of Krishna actually begins with Brahma cursing his favorite disciple – Amartya Kalyanesu – and how this event leads to circumstances that compel Krishna to be born.
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.
3. Do you have any strange writing habits?
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.
4. What does your day look like?
A standard day is a rather chaotic day :) I usually get up around 5:30 AM and spend some time doing Pranayama. After that, it’s office. A typical office day means spending time coaching business leaders or managing the daily affairs at the workplace. I head two rather different ventures; one of the companies is a leading name in the OD and Executive coaching space in South East Asia. The other is in the education domain.
I try reaching home by 9 in the night, after which I like to spend time with my family and my Labrador. By midnight, when the others have slept, I begin my writing. This is the time during the entire day when the creative juices are at their pinnacle. Some days I sleep by 2 in the morning, and on other occasions the day stretches to 3 or 4 in the morning. The next day, the cycle begins yet again.
5. What’s your favorite book by another author, and why?
I think Rohinton Mistry is an amazing writer. Most of his work falls in the “slice of life” kind of style.
Favorite books would include Family Matters from Rohinton Mistry; Great Expectations from Charles Dickens; The mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy; Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
6. If your book becomes a movie whom would you want to play the hero and the heroine?
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.
7. How did you become a writer? In other words, tell us YOUR STORY.
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 J
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.
8. What is your best marketing tip?
As a principle, I believe one should let their work speak for itself. Unfortunately, these days there has been an advent of authors who have not been averse to spending several lakhs on promoting their books, including buying their own stocks to create a sense of hype around their work. The average reader doesn’t understand this because they see what the media shows them. So if a media channel says a particular book is doing great, you have thousands of readers (and in some cases, hundreds of thousands) picking up the book because it has been touted by media as a best selling book.
This becomes a problem for writers who may have the talent but not the money power to promote themselves or their work. I would recommend two things that can be done – these are inexpensive alternatives and more sustainable and ethical. Build a social media presence. It doesn’t take much to develop a digital presence and these days most potential readers spend a lot of time on the web. If you have a good story to weave around your work, people will listen and go out and buy your book. The other thing is to do a lot of speaking at public events where one can address their potential audience and excite them with what they have to say.
Remember, no amount of money substitutes for great talent and interaction with the readers.
9. Why write Mythology?
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.
10. Is there a certain scene you find difficult to write?
On the non fiction side, I occasionally have trouble writing portions that are very text heavy. Inherently having the soul of a novelist, I balk at the prospect of penning down mounds of information that does not tell a story, even if it is a non fiction book. The way I manage this is by trying to weave a story even around topics that are otherwise dry and jejune.
On the fiction side, I don’t seem to have too much trouble writing any particular kind of scene, at least not yet.
11. Is your writing character-driven or plot-driven?
Plot and character goes hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. The twain are inter related. A great plot would fall flat if the characters are dull. And brilliant characters cease to grab the attention of a reader if the plot is below average or routine.
For me, the plot is paramount; because that is the starting point. However, once I start writing, I ensure that each of my characters is aligned to the plot so that the twain generates a potent mix.
12. Naturally, in part you are all your characters (they come from your head) but which of your characters is the most like you? Or resonates in you the most? Why?
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.
13. What do you wish to convey through your writing?
Through my non fiction books, I like to inspire and motivate people to be more than they are and to achieve their potential.
My fiction does not intend to educate. At its core, my stories are meant to entertain and delight readers. However, at a more subliminal level, the stories and the characters do tend to leave the reader with questions. In The curse of Brahma, for instance, a reader would be compelled to ask – “What is Evil? And everything that is evil, is it completely so?” Or for that matter one might ask, “Can our perception of truth be colored by what we experience? Can one man’s truth be another man’s truth as well? Or might that lead to intolerance and subjectivity that connives to destroy more than it nurtures!”
14. What can we expect from you next?
Pichai – The future of Google (with Hachette) – releasing Dec 2015
Click – The incredible story of Indian ecommerce (with Hachette) releasing in April 2016
The Rise of the Yadavas (Vol 2 in the Krishna Trilogy) – releasing in April 2016
15. To end lets try a Rapid Fire round. Your answer should be the first word/s that pops into your head when you think of:
LIFE: If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am merely for myself, then what am I?
PASSION: You know it when it happens. It will drive you; not the other way around
HERO: My dad
LOVE: Unconditional, and beyond forever
HATE: A wasted emotion
Thank you once again, Jagmohan, for being here and talking to me. It was fun!
(Interview part of Book Review Tours)
About Jagmohan Bhanver:
Internationally best-selling 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.”