Q. Does Legends of Ramayana take sides in the debate about whether the Ramayana is myth or history?
We should not play this game by the rules set by our former colonial masters. The idea that their religion is history and everyone else’s is mythology is just not true. Even the view that ‘history is fact and mythology is untrue’ is silly in itself.
Q. The docuseries suggests that Lord Rama had an elder sister. Many of us didn’t know that
There are many versions of the Ramayana. The TV show, which is the basis for most modern urban Indians, made quite a few changes to Valmiki’s Ramayana. Shanta [Rama’s sister] is mentioned in some versions. In fact, her role is quite seminal because it was her husband who did the yagna that allowed emperor Dashrath to have sons. The documentary will give audiences many more such ‘aha!’ moments.
Q. There are talks of Shekhar Kapur adapting your Immortals of Meluha. Given how grand the books are, do you think any screen adaptation will be able to do it justice?
There are books that have scale. When rendering them in an audio-visual format, they need scale as well. It has been done—Gone with the Wind, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. The key thing an author has to ask is if the team has the ability to do it. Roy Price is one of the top Hollywood producers, Shekhar Kapur is one of the best [directors] we have, Suparn Verma [co-writer, The Family Man] is the writer. I am involved as a creative consultant. I think we will have a series that is worthy of our devotion to Lord Shiva.
Q. How did you react to the news that your publisher, Westland, was shutting down?
I was heartbroken. Westland distributed Immortals... when many had rejected my manuscripts. Most Westland authors will tell you that [CEO] Gautam Padmanabhan is one of the finest people. His father started the business. One can only imagine his pain.