Sudipta Bhawmik, an award-winning playwright and author of four books, provides insights into his latest work and tips for writers during an exclusive interview with Zorba Books. The book, rooted in his immensely popular podcast, ‘The Stories of Mahabharata,’ has garnered over 40 million downloads!
- The title immediately seizes the reader’s attention. Which aspect of the Mahabharata have you focussed on?
- So many books have been written on the Mahabharata. What makes Sudipta Bhawmik‘s book a unique read?
- You have previously written plays and done podcasts, which were successful. What made you write a book this time?
- What are some misconceptions that people have about the genre of mythological fiction?
- You have a background in engineering, which is a pretty strenuous job. How do you take out the time to write?
- At what point did you decide to be an author and what was your path to publication?
- You have previously written successful plays and done podcasts and now an author. What part does marketing play in your success as a writer and podcaster?
- What would be your advice to budding writers with creative writing potential?
1. The title immediately seizes the reader’s attention. Which aspect of the Mahabharata have you focussed on?
“Dwapar Katha” covers almost the entire Mahabharata in an abridged form. Yes, I did omit some stories and substories to keep the narrative tight and cohesive. My focus has been to capture the players’ character dynamics and try to capture the conflicts that drove them to do what they did.
2. So many books have been written on the Mahabharata. What makes Sudipta Bhawmik‘s book a unique read?
Yes, over the years several books have been written on the Mahabharata. I believe what makes Dwapar Katha unique is the storytelling style in simple language that emphasizes the drama that unfolds with every page turn. I have not tried to get into any interpretations, rather just tell the story as it happens. I tried not to get into any religious or theological debates and treat the epic as a literary work rather than a religious text. Readers will find Dwapar Katha to be a chronicle of humanity and should see themselves as many of the characters of the Mahabharata.
3. Sudipta, you have previously written plays and done podcasts, which were successful. What made you write a book this time?
One of the key reasons for publishing this book was that my podcast listeners were asking for it. I also thought that a book would serve as a companion to the podcast and could help the listener/reader navigate through the world of the Mahabharata.
The other motivation was to reach out to the Gen-Zs and Gen-Alphas who have not been introduced to this great text and have been seeking for something that speaks their language.
4. What are some misconceptions people have about the mythological fiction genre?
One major issue is that some of us often confuse between fact and fiction. We often don’t understand the distinction between history and mythology. Some mythological fictions have such a strong influence on the readers that they often take it to be the absolute truth. What they fail to understand is that mythology helps us understand ourselves better, and they don’t necessarily need to be facts to prove their philosophy. That’s the power of mythology. Whether the characters of the Mahabharata did exist in reality or not does not matter at all. What we learn from their journey is important.
5. You have a background in engineering, which is a pretty strenuous job. How do you take the time to write?
As they say, where there is a will, there is way. One can always find time to do the things they really want to do. Yes, if I could devote 100% of my time to writing, I might have completed the book earlier and could have written more books. But with whatever time I have, I try to do my best.
6. At what point did Sudipta Bhawmik decide to be an author and what was your path to publication?
Before Dwapar Katha, I had already published 4 books. All of them were play anthologies and in Bengali. Dwapar-Katha is my first book in English, and it was Harper Collins who reached out to me with the possibility of publishing my podcast as a book.
7. You have previously written successful plays and done podcasts and now an author. What part does marketing play in your success as a writer and podcaster?
Marketing, in a broader sense of the term, means to reach out to a large number of people with your message. Hence, marketing is an essential component of any production or publication that is meant for the public. However, marketing can only take you to a certain extent. If your content is good and is liked by the people, the snowball effect is created by word of mouth. As far as my success is concerned, I started modestly by marketing through social media at no cost, and then gradually, it gained momentum as people liked my creations.
8. Sudipta Bhawmik, what would be your advice to budding writers with creative writing potential?
Keep at it and never give up. Try to learn as much as you can from the masters, from the writers you like – and then write on your own. Find your own voice and have something to say something original. You won’t regret.
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