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Karma cola and masala mythology

Arghya Ganguly 

The Immortals of Meluha, last year’s runaway bestseller, could soon become a film. Its author, former banker Amish Tripathi, tells Arghya Ganguly that he hadn’t expected such success

Amish Tripathi, self-avowed “boring banker turned happy author”, just got happier. The Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency, which represents A-list and emerging stars in movies, television, music and sports, and has, among others, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg as clients, has signed a contract with Tripathi to represent the movie rights for his “Shiva Trilogy”. The agency is already in talks with producers from both Hollywood and Mumbai.

The Immortals of Meluha, published 15 months back, is the first instalment of the trilogy. Combining history, fiction, philosophy and interpretations of mythology, the book is, as its blurb describes, is a “compelling tale of the simple man (Shiva) whose karma turned him into a legend and then on into a God”.

Tripathi, who “chucked” his 14-year-old job in the financial services sector last month to focus on writing after having tasted commercial success with his first book, has finished penning the sequel which will be published next month, and will start working on the third part after a brief interlude this year.

The IIM-Calcutta alumnus insists he didn’t do any special research for the trilogy. “I’ve been an avid history-book reader for the last 30 years or so. This trilogy is a culmination of that,” says Tripathi (36), adding, “My family is also heavily into mythology. My grandfather was a pundit in a temple in Benares. We often have discussions on such subjects.”

It was while watching a documentary on ancient Indians and Persians that the idea of writing a book occurred to him. The Immortals of Meluha started off as a philosophical reflection on the question: “What is evil?” When his family members gave the thumbs-down to the first draft, Tripathi threw in adventure, thrills and romance into his fable to make it more alluring.

The only “writing which I used to do regularly” prior to The Immortals of Meluha, says Tripathi, was “strategy reports or presentations denoting company targets”. Of course, earlier, in college, Tripathi says he did try to write a few ditties, which were all severely panned by his friends. The only person who appreciated it was the one he got married to.

Tripathi didn’t have any grand expectation from his first book. In fact, he confesses, he didn’t expect the book to be bought by people outside his family. Now that 125,000 people have bought it, apart from his family members, and he has bagged a deal with a reputed agent in US, Tripathi perhaps feels glad that he took the calculated risk of leaving his job on the insistence of his family and wife — the first fan of his writing.

First Published: Sat, July 09 2011. 00:44 IST