Watch: Alia Bhatt chats with Amish Tripathi about his new book, Sita — Warrior of Mithila
Author Amish Tripathi, of The Immortals of Meluha fame, chatted with Alia Bhatt over the trailer launch of his latest book, Sita — Warrior of Mithila, the sequel to Scion of Ikshvaku of the Ram Chandra series. The chat was streamed live on Amish's Facebook page, on Tuesday, 16 May 2017.
After having spent 14 years in the financial services sector, Amish maintains that rewriting mythology with a contemporary spin is a fun experience. He added that listening to these tales serve a dual purpose of teaching us, and delighting our sensibilities.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) May 15, 2017
Amish and Alia busted a few Bollywood myths even as they deflated some writer-ly stereotypes. They also introduced the trailer for the book, where we see Sita, in a secluded forest, practising battle tactics with her javelin. Amish maintains that the Sita in his book isn't a submissive, dutiful wife but an accomplished warrior as recorded in a number of ancient texts, like the Adbhut Ramayana, where Sita is known to have brought the elder Ravana to his end. He says that there are a number of unearthed shades to Sita which aren't limited to the 1980s subdued television version that the collective conscious of Indians remember her by. He adds that the character of Sita as seen in the, isn't someone you'd want to mess with. Alia asks Amish if the truth of a story is lost in the maze of multiple narratives, to which he quotes a Sanskrit adage that translates into, "Truth is one, but the wise men speak it as many".
Alia goes onto question Amish if the "gravitas" of a book is lost while adapting it into a movie, to which he replies saying that each medium "colours differently". While reading a book, the onus of interpretation lies with the reader, so each individual's unique experience crafts an entirely different picture. Yet, the loss of these nuances owing to the paucity of time are balanced out by retaining the primary essence of the book. He says that each page roughly translates into one minute of screen time and since having a 500-minute film isn't possible, the lifeblood of the film is held back. He adds, there have been great films like The Lord of the Rings series that have done much justice to the books.
Amish questioned Alia why Bollywood hasn't done a full-fledged feature film on any of the ancient epics, especially considering how they offer a range of emotions that serve to educate and entertain. Alia hints that there might be plans in the pipeline.He eggs her on about the myths that surround Bollywood blockbusters and if it really is possible to cash in on a commercial success while making a socially relevant film. She responds with: "There are just two kinds of films, good and bad, the good ones that don't work are failed by their budgets".
Alia prods Amish over the popular perception of writers — creatures of the night who limit themselves to solitary confinement — and whether or not this is true of him. Amish admits that whether or not those perceptions are true, he's certainly used them as an excuse when he feels unsociable. Alia also asked Amish why he sticks to the genre of mythology — to which the writer promptly responds that the stories of the gods have a "cool" edge to them. He quips that he has a great deal of fun writing them and is in fact done with writing a quarter of his next book in the series based on the character of Ravana. He adds that the first three books in the series chronicle the events that build up to the abduction of Sita while the last two books will narrate the trajectory of events that are an amalgamation of all the characters without pivoting on a single character in the series.
Alia asks Amish if he could envision an actor as Ram from the series, to which he responds: Ranveer Singh. Alia adds that she's quite fascinated with the character of Sita and would enjoy playing the role of the warrior princess.
Watch the full chat between Amish and Alia here: