Author Interview: Ashwin P Chandran on his new book 'The Sixteenth Night Of The Kurukshetra'
Professor Ashwin Chandran elaborates why he chose to write about the 'The Sixteenth Night Of The Kurukshetra' in 16 conversations that took place on that fateful night.
Professor Ashwin Chandran, please tell us something about your book. It is about the Mahabharata; which portion of the Mahabharata? How does your book stand out?
The book titled 'The Sixteenth Night Of The Kurukshetra' is a semi fiction novel based on the great epic Mahabharata. The novel is not a deviation from the original text. The book shifts the focus to the seventeenth day of Kurukshetra war, which happens to be the decider of the war as Arjuna and Karna will fight for the last time. The book encompasses the emotions, the anxiety and the nerves of both the Pandavas and Kauravas. I have written the book as 16 conversations that took place on that night between different people.
The unique aspect would be the narration of the story through 16 conversations. One of the key features of the book is that it can be speed read. Like all Mahabharata versions, it clearly gives the message that you may be brave and the most powerful but victory will always be with Dharma.
What made you pen this book? Where did the idea of this book come from? What inspired you to write this book?
I have read a lot of stories based on the Mahabharata, watched most of the serials and films based on it but I have always felt that many conversations or incidents were not given the value or significance it deserved. Certain elements or scenarios could be added which would have added much more value.
Lord Hanuman is related to Karna in many ways but I have not read any version of the story that he meets Karna. I wanted to bring these incidents and conversations to the readers. Also, in most of the books or dramas, importance is given to the ninth night of the Kurukshetra war as ‘the fall of Bhisma happens on the 10th day.
I thought the writers and storytellers have not given importance to the 16th night as it was the most emotional and anxious night for all. I have watched almost all plays or serials related to Mahabharata and read several books on it. I got inspired by BR Chopra’s Mahabharata serial. I have watched all the episodes more than 20 times. I wanted to write a screenplay titled ‘The Sixteenth Night’. But I thought a book would be the best option for me at this point of time.
Please tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in writing?
I work in an Engineering college, where I take care of Training and Placements. I also have my own training institute that impart training for competitive examinations like GATE, ISRO, Placement Training and AI for kids. I used to write short stories right from my school life. But it’s been a long gap after I joined college.
Is this your first book? If not, please tell our readers the names of your other books. What other books do you plan to write in future?
In 2006, I wrote a technical book on Computer Peripherals and Interfacing based on the then University syllabus. I am working on a book on Interview Preparations. I have four to five stories in mind. Two of them are based on mythology.
Who are your favourite authors? Name some of your favourite books.
Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s ‘Wings of Fire’, Shiv Khera's ‘You can Win’
Who inspires you to write? From among people around you? Also, which authors inspire you and whose writing styles you love to follow?
My late grandmothers used to narrate Ramayana and the Mahabharata to me since I was very young. I was always very curious and raised various doubts about the stories. They told me that as you grow you have to read many books and find answers to those questions and maybe write a book. That certainly has inspired me. I have always been inspired by great authors.The foreword to my first book was written by Dr Achuth Sankar S Nair who I consider a great author. There are other numerous inspirations. I would like to develop my own style of writing.
You are a Professor; how do you manage time in between your work to write?
Teaching and writing can of course run parallel. The lockdown of almost 15 months gave me the luxury of time. It was utilized for writing
In these days of lockdown, people have difficulty accessing printed books; they are listening to audiobooks through Storytel, Audible, etc. apps. Do you have any plans to convert your book into an audiobook alongside the printed book, so more readers can access your writing from their home?
The book has been released as an e-book and is now available on Amazon Kindle worldwide. Infinity Indica Publishers have published the book. I have plans to release audiobooks and paperbacks soon.