Book Review Blog

Interview with author Jagmohan Bhanver

I interviewed Jagmohan Bhanver, author of The Curse Of Brahma which is the first book of the Krishna Trilogy series. You can read my review of the book by clicking here Book Review : The Curse Of Brahma - Jagmohan Bhanver (Krishna Trilogy)

-- Interview with author Jagmohan Bhanver --

Q: What made you write the book “The Curse Of Brahma”?
A: 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.

Q: According to you, what kind of response have you received from the readers, any specific feedback/opinion you received and that made you go wow?
A: Thanks to Krishna, a vast majority of readers have rated the book in the “five star” category. There have been a few suggestions on the proof reading of the book and that feedback has been shared with the publishers who have rectified the same in the latest editions. The two things that made me really happy about the feedback center around the characterization and the plot. People have loved the way each character has been developed. When even a character like Kansa can draw sympathy and tears (in a lot of instances), one knows that the characters have done their bit. The feedback on plot tells me that avid readers have loved the intricacy and appreciated the work that has gone into weaving the same. The best feedback has come in from readers and critics who have said this is perhaps the best book they have read in the mythology genre. I think that’s a great compliment.

Q: After “The Curse Of Brahma” what can we expect from you in the future?
A: I have a book with Hachette India releasing in December this year. It’s titled Pichai – The future of Google and as the name suggests, it is the first book internationally on Google’s new CEO and the company he inherits from Larry Page. Another book with Hachette releases in April next year. It is called Click and it is India’s first definitive book on the eCommerce sector. And of course, Volume 2 in the Krishna Trilogy (The Rise of the Yadavas) too releases by March-April next year.

Q: Why did you select mythology as a subject to write, any specific reasons for that?
A: 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.

Q: Other than writing, what else do you do professionally?
A: The early part of my career was spent as a banker and I was fortunate to grow exponentially fast in that sector. However, after working for several years at national level roles, I realized that banking was not what I saw myself doing for the rest of my life. I wanted to spend my years writing and engaging with people through seminars and speaking events. And that is what I do today. As an Executive coach, I work with CXO’s and board members to help make a difference to their lives; and as a professional speaker I get the opportunity to touch hundreds of thousands of lives in some context or the other. And I hope, my writing opens up a new world full of exciting vistas for my readers.

Q: How are your books different from the other books written in the same genre and subject?
A: Each writer has his or her own style and I think one cannot really make comparisons. However, if I were to hazard a guess, I would say the key difference lies in the characterization. If one looks at the mythological genre, it would be safe to say that The Curse of Brahma is one book where each character has been carefully developed and can stand up on their own. That I think is the biggest differentiating factor. The other difference is the intricate plot. A lot of books in this genre, while eminently successful, have a rather linear plot. The Curse of Brahma doesn’t go in for linearity. The narration is a little more complex. At the same time, it is not so intricate that a reader gets lost in understanding the plot. Third is the research. It took me nine years to research the facts and myths behind Krishna’s story. I think that is something that is unique to the writing of The Curse of Brahma and the other two books that will be released as part of the Krishna Trilogy. Last but not the least is the grey zones built into the story and the characters. There is no easy way of saying what is good and what constitutes evil. Therefore, most characters have grey shades and that makes them more real, in my opinion.
Interview with author Jagmohan Bhanver
Interview with author Jagmohan Bhanver
Q: When did you decide that you want to be a writer? What inspired you to take it up?
A: 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.

Q: Do you read as much as you write? Which are your favorite books?
A: 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, RohintonMistry,, Hemingway, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Prem Chand. The list is endless.

Q: Writers block, have you ever faced it? How did you come out of it?
A: I know this is a much touted and discussed topic when it comes to writers, and I wish I could claim I have experienced it. The truth however is that I have never really been subject to the condition referred to as “writer’s block”. On the contrary, the challenge always has been to try and pen down the plethora of stories that keep bouncing around in my head. In my case, the bigger challenge is ‘time’. To take time out from my other responsibilities and dedicate it all to full time writing – that is the bigger battle. I think it is safe to say that there are enough stories in my head to fill the pages of a hundred books. And every day is a step forward in the direction of being able to create enough time to make this a reality.

Q: Can you tell us something about the research that you have put in to write your book?
A: I started the research as soon as I got out of HSBC – my last job in the banking sector. This was in 2004. Part of the research focused on meeting and talking with people who are associated with the Hare Krishna movement. Another aspect of the research took me to places I had never thought I would travel to. This included historical places where Krishna or other characters that are part of Krishna’s story have stayed sometime in the past, thousands of years ago. This was followed by painstakingly researching old documents and papers (including ancient texts) that could tell me something new about Krishna that hopefully majority of the world would be unaware of. The most critical aspect of the research however related to finding more about Krishna himself. Most of the information available on Krishna related to his role in the Mahabharata. But the latter talks more about the Kauravas and the Pandavas and in the Great War’s narration, Krishna has never been the player to occupy maximum space, even though he is a central character there. My objective therefore was to try and tell the story of Krishna from Krishna’s point of view; not with him as ‘one of the several other’ characters in some other story. Therefore, each book in the Krishna trilogy brings out aspects that to the majority of people would be fresh and new information. The first volume (The Curse of Brahma) for instance narrates the events that led up to Krishna’s birth. And this is not the story that we have grown up listening to, but an entirely different set of events. The second volume (The Rise of the Yadavas) covers the period of Krishna’s life that has seldom been talked about – his initiation into the art of war and the role played by both his teachers – Muni Sandipani and Angirasa – in shaping Krishna’s destiny. Sandipani’s life itself is a story in itself and will enchant readers of mythological fiction. The third and final volume (The Drums of Kurukshetra) tells the story of the Great War – Mahabharata – in an entirely different manner and I hope it will leave the readers with a very different perspective on the mortal warrior that came to be known as the God of Gods – Krishna!

Q: Two things that you like and dislike the most about mythology?
A: There is nothing to dislike about mythology, frankly. Mythology is the cornerstone around which the roots of a culture take shape and illuminate generations for thousands of years after the people who were part of the story have themselves ceased to exist. Mythology is rarely ‘myth’. It usually has its origin in history and events that are today referred to as mythology may well have been part of the history of a nation. Accumulated dust over the millennia sometimes casts a shadow over things that really happened, and then people begin referring to this as things that may ‘perhaps’ have been true but not necessarily so. And what was once fact becomes relegated to being described as myth. The greatest gift a nation can give to its people is to provide them versions of mythology. When that happens, people get to experience a slice of what their ancestors possibly were like. A good mythology product has the potential to transport a reader into a time zone thousands of years back, and by dint of that, letting them experience something they would otherwise never have experienced.

Q: You prefer reading e-books or you love the traditional paper/hard back books?
A: e-books suck as far as I am concerned. Though I think they are a great asset for people who are not married to traditional paperback/ hardcover books. I still love to inhale the smell of an old book or run my fingers over the spine of a freshly printed copy.

Q: How long did it take you to write “The Curse Of Brahma”?
A: The research took nine years. The actual writing of The Curse of Brahma took me three weeks. My publishers and my wife tell me I must be the fastest writer in the world :-). Those three weeks were a maniacal spree of frenzied writing. I would hit my office in the morning at 5 AM and the next thing I would notice is that the sun had gone down and it was already night time. There were no pangs of hunger and thirst was unknown. The office I was using for this purpose was not my regular office but a small studio setup that I have where I go when I require absolute silence and solitude. The phone was turned off and I was transformed into an anti-social beast for the duration of those three weeks. Some days I slept in the office and next day in the morning, I would be at my desk keying in the story from where I had left it the previous night. I genuinely believe the story was not written by me even though it may have come through me. I do not recall a single moment of conscious writing during those three weeks. It was like being in a trance, where you know you are typing something, but the words come to you unbidden and without thought – like an unseen hand guiding your fingers over the machine, helping create something that is not necessarily your own, but coming out through you. It was a beautiful experience. And I am waiting to go through it again when I start writing the second volume – The Rise of the Yadavas.

Q: Other than writing, what are your other interests?
A: 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.

Q: One message that you would want to convey to our readers?
A: 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!

Q: How can our readers connect with you?
A: They can connect with me through my Facebook pages (Author Page and The Krishna Trilogy page). They could also be in touch with me on Twitter (@AuthorJagmohan) where I tweet regularly these days. For those who want to receive posts about my non fiction books, they can be in touch with me on LinkedIn as well.

-- End of interview with author Jagmohan Bhanver --

You can order a copy of the book from Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal | Infibeam

6 comments:

  1. wow.. I didn't know Jaggi had written a book :-) we worked together at HSBC :-) will connect with him soon...
    thanks for sharing buddy! :-)

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    1. Thank you Archana for dropping in to read the interview, hope you liked it. Hope you read the book :)

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  2. Interesting perspective on Indian mythology. Liked the interview, keep up the good work..

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Rajeev, hope you keep reading my blogs.

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