Monday, October 17, 2016

Interview of Author Vikram Balagopal

For author Vikram Balagopal, his book Savage Blue is an escapist fantasy adventure meant to be read for fun, but still addresses many world issues. He speaks to Sapna Sarfare about the book & more

Vikram Balagopal

Literature always welcomes newer pens with open hand and readers always look forward to something new. Adding to this list, HarperCollins Publishers India is presenting Vikram Balagopal’s Savage Blue, a book exploring environmental issues with feminism in an interesting manner. Balagopal is an award winning author, illustrator, a cartoonist, a film-maker and a published poet who previous attempt at writing is an award-winning graphic novel Simian.

One is really intrigued by Savage Blue, which is depicted as an escapist fantasy adventure with romance in the present era. Vikram adds, “Savage Blue is an escapist fantasy adventure meant to be read for fun, but within its story I still wanted to address many of the issues in our world. The relationship between the two main characters, Akila and Shyam, and keeping that real was what mattered most to me. There is love and sex but it is far from a fairytale romance.”

With Savage Blue, Vikram feels readers will connect with the lead in their own way and he wants to know the connection is more on which side. “Every day of our lives we all know what it is to be trapped in something, be it tradition or debt or social norms or our own insecurities and that desire to break free is universal.” 

The idea for the novel came from Vikram’s need to write a present-day fantasy, which took time to develop & be written. One sense Savage Blue is Vikram’s efforts to showcase himself as a multi-faceted writer. “I’ve worked as a screenwriter and filmmaker before I did my graphic novel Simian. I’ve never chosen to do something one way or another simply for the sake of doing it differently. In the case of Simian, I felt that the story suited a graphic novel best in the way I wanted to tell it, and now with Savage Blue, it came to me as a novel. That doesn’t mean I can’t adapt it later to another medium. It is just that this is its original form.”

Ramayan was the base of his graphic novel Simian, but from Hanuman’s point of view. Vikram divulges, “The story in Simian, where Bhima and Hanuman meet, has existed as a part of the Mahabharata and I’ve seen it performed in Kathakali as well, where it is called Kalyana Sougandhikam. It is a famous episode in the epic and when my grandmother used to tell me bedtime stories it was the one I requested most often, along with other stories of Hanuman. In it, Hanuman and Bhima have a chance meeting in the jungle. They have a connection because they are both sons of the wind god Vayu, and when Hanuman learns of the troubles the Pandavas have had to endure in their escalating conflict with the Kauravas, and he sees Bhima’s lust for vengeance, he tries to persuade him that violence and war is not the answer. He has personal experience of it from the Great War between Ram and Ravan and he shares his wisdom with Bhima that war is unpredictable, leading to the participants compromising on their morals, and then spending the rest of their lives living with the consequences of their decisions. And the best way for him to illustrate this is to tell Bhima what really happened the only way he can, through his eyes. Simian was not done with the purpose of being another point of view, but it is instead a quest to understand and dig deeper into this thing called war that touches and shapes our world every single day.” 

Good writers are avid readers, of course. One thinks that the writer might have different topics to read through as a reader. Vikram responds, “That’s a difficult question to answer because my selections as a reader are so eclectic and this is only my second book, so it’s too soon to tell.” He does think there are a lot of new Indian writers who can be described as wonderful. This makes his reading queue quite long. His only remorse is, “I only wish I could read faster and that I had more time for it.”

As a trained filmmaker, he is constantly working on film projects. As for his next from his pen, he reveals that he is waiting to see.

BOOK: Savage Blue 
AUTHOR: Vikram Balagopal
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers India 
PAGES: 416
PRICE: Rs. 399
RELEASE DATE: September, 2016

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