Last night, I was determined to complete this post on the interview. Then Anuja Chandramouli happened. (Yes she’s an expression too) Her replies to the questions for the interview left me smiling, elated and I felt, this needs elaborate time to be done right. After many hours of working on this, ladies and gentlemen, am proud to present the next interview in the Inspirasi series – Anuja Chandramouli.
The Start of a No Ending
I wouldn’t say I met(as am yet to), but rather was introduced to Anuja Chandramouli through my work at JustBooks. We exchanged a couple of mails and some phone calls, I was smitten. I have a deep sense of admiration and respect for Anuja, which keeps growing as time passes by. She is one of the authors who doesn’t have an air about being famous. Also she is never two sided or never have I seen her pretend. She takes appreciation and criticism in the same manner. A quality that many authors lack.
But the main charmer for me or rather the main reason of admiration, is how she is unapolegetically herself. She has opinions, which she talks about and holds ground on them. It’s not about being politically correct, more so on standing up for what you believe in. More than her books, it’s Anuja who inspires to be yourself and do everything you want to do.
When you have 3 bestselling books and 3 more on their way to be one, Anuja Chandramouli is one person, I don’t see morphing into a high nosed arrogant author who knows she’s the best and none can question, like the many authors we have now. I adore her and look upto her. That’s why I called it the start of a no ending, because I believe she will never stop inspiring me and many others.
Anuja Chandramouli – Bestselling author of 8 Books
Anuja Chandramouli, is the bestselling author of Arjuna – Saga of a Pandava Warrior – Prince, Shakti: The Divine Feminine and Kamadeva: The God of Desire. She has recently published 3 books all at once (Check end of the page for the books), a feat for an author to have a hatrick of this sort. But I strongly strongly reiterate, the biggest feat of it all is retaining who she is and being her, in my opinion.
The opening question had to be about how she feels on the hatrick release of books and Anuja responds, “I work with words and yet it is really happy to describe these things. Guess, I am just really happy and grateful for the opportunity to do something I care deeply about. Plus, it is not like I pulled it off all by my lonesome self. Really thankful for all the lovely people in my life who made it possible – my husband, kids, parents, siblings, cousins, editors and readers. Their support and encouragement means the world to me.”
Mythological fiction is a genre, that continues to be trending in India. Anuja Chandramouli also writes in the same genre, with a mix of psycho-thrill and fantasy. It’s a wonder why and how authors choose to write in this genre, as it is a story people know already. The book solely stands on the perspective you bring in and a new light on things, that would intrigue the reader. Intrigued as to why she chose to write in this genre, I prod her on it.
“I tend not to analyse my actions in this space too much. For me, writing on mythology, history and fantasy is a romp that is both fun and fulfilling. And of course, retelling and reinterpreting beloved stories in keeping with relevant, contemporary themes is a great way to keep them alive and kicking. The way I see it, dipping into the past in the present is a great way to negotiate the uncertain terrain of the future. ”
The same reason, we all love reading Mythological fiction too right?
Lets talk about Arjuna
Anuja Chandramouli cites that she adores Arjuna and even looks up to him as a savior and guide in her life. I wonder why? Arjuna is sure one of the beloved Pandava, but there is much negatives(would that be a right word?) about him, many shortcomings. So I wondered, if Anuja disliked anything about him. To which she said, “Actually, I love him too much to find fault with him not that I deny he had his shortcomings. I guess, it was disturbing how ruthless he was when it came to eliminating a potential competitor like Eklavya. His decision to sever Burisrava’s arm when he was engaged in combat with his pal, Satyaki was not what you would describe as entirely ethical. His blind obedience and acceptance with regard to his big bro Yudhishtra’s more dubious decisions can be galling as well.”
“I could go on for he was not perfect but his flaws, especially his arrogance are a part of him and foibles notwithstanding, Arjuna is an incredibly special person.To this day, he inspires me to strive for excellence and push past the limits of reasonable endurance. And for that and so much more, he will always have my love and unalloyed affection.” It marvels me though, because personally I do not like Arjuna, as I feel he had the power to do many things different. But I guess that is the beauty of Mahabharatha, it shows everyone is prone to making mistakes.” says the true admirer of Arjuna. 🙂
Has things changed? – From the Mythical times to now
Do we move forward with time? Are there changes in mindsets and society? Some may argue as ‘yes’ while others bring in a strong ‘no’. This is something I wonder about a lot. I wanted to know what Anuja thinks about it. ” Well as Alphonse Karr, so wisely and wittily put it – The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have made a lot of progress in some ways but the fact also remains that we continue to make the same mistakes made by our ancestors in the distant past, instead of learning from them. It is why our lives are still plagued by the evils of hate, intolerance and violence.”
She also adds, “Still those who came before us held on to hope as well as the power of little acts of kindness and we do too, even at our worst. Which is why the future, bleak though it may seem holds a world of promise as well.” Yes there is hope, but there is also this miserable feeling when people choose to move backward to the stone age. May it be about gender issues, religion, education etc, the thinking seems to be becoming narrower. For example, the recent Padmavaat issue, it is a movie for christ sake, treat it as a work of art. There are battles that need to be fought and won.
I ask Anuja Chandramouli to give a piece of mind to our ‘so-called society’ and she says, ” Mind your own beeswax, if inclined not to be helpful!”. I almost stood up and clapped my hands to this. Simple isn’t it and yet, am sure this will only bring more nonsensical talks and hurling. Oh the times you wish, life was simpler.
Feminism & Shakti
I think too much to ask this question, but in Anuja’s case, it was more to know her thoughts on it. Anuja Chandramouli is a feminist and all her writing speaks volumes about it. To my question of why she is a feminist, she responds. “Of course, I believe in feminism for obvious reasons. As a mother of two daughters, I would hate for them to inherit a world that is not just, safe or filled with opportunities for men and women to achieve their full potential. I believe in equal rights for everybody and in my opinion, the idea is to balance the scales not tilt it in favour of either gender.”
Her second book, Shakti: The Divine Feminine is a book that emanates Feminism and also shows bouts of sexism that exists even for Goddesses. But I feel, this essence was somehow lost towards the end of the book. A question I have been wanting to ask her, What was the thought behind Shakti- the start and the ending? “Shakti is a celebration of womanhood and the idea behind it was to inspire people to embrace the Shakti within. So many readers have got in touch with me to say that they could empathize with it on a profound and personal level. Many felt that it was powerful, moving and inspiring. And yes, there were also those who felt it was too progressive or regressive for their tastes. Go figure!”
“Ultimately Shakti was intended to be an intense experience without the intrusion of analytical thoughts or restrictive rationale. In a lot of ways, it changed my life and I’ll always be proud of my Shakti.” says Anuja.
Anuja Chandramouli – An Inspiring Woman
Anuja, is not just an author but also an acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer, a mother, who also conducts regular workshops on creative writing, mythology etc,. As they say, when you love what you do and are ambitious to want it all, you will end up having it all. The most kickass part of it all it is, what she said when asked about it. 🙂 ” That is such a pretty bubble and I hate to burst it! Also, many thanks for the flattering description. 🙂 But the honest to goodness truth is that you have described exactly fifty percent of me.” Anuja says
“The rest of me is cantankerous, angst – ridden, grumpy, cynical, restless and inclined towards protracted bouts of sheer laziness. Still, I have always tried to balance the better with the bitter and in the end, I think it is why I am able to get out of bed in the morning after successfully resisting the urge to go off into hibernation.”
Like I said before, Anuja is not trying to sound grand but, just herself. You relate to her when she talks and inspires you that you could be someone too. Yet not loose who you are. Inspiring isn’t it? I ask her to share a thought with the women across the world and she says the best thing ever.
You are the hero you have always dreamed about who will rescue you. Believe it!
Closing Thoughts – I wish I could ask her more 😉
The Inspirasi Interview series is hard to end, especially when the thoughts are so stimulating. What next for Anuja was to be my last question. To which she said, “Hmmm…. I refuse to talk about hats that may adorn my big head in the near future unless I have earned the right to wear them. :)”
Yes that was to be my last question, but I couldn’t resist and asked her to rant about anything that she wished too. This was more a way to ask for her to share her opinions. Oh! She definitely did not disappoint. I leave you all with this, something for you to ponder on,
This blame and shame game and trial by social media which are suddenly the rage and being considered the empowered things to do is something that I just can’t get on board with because it is neither fair nor just and there is too much impetus for this kind of self-righteous indignation and vigilante justice to devolve into an outright monster that indiscriminately devours all in its path.
Every frickin horror story in history started in a similar manner with moral outrage and loss of faith in corrupt systems. Remember the Spanish Inquisition? The unspeakable terror when Robespierre decided that the answer to everything was the guillotine? The Salem Witch trials? The jerks who lynch citizens for eating beef closer home? We would all do well to remember that the only thing worse than systemic injustice is mob justice. So it would behove all of us to make the effort to play nice even when overcome by the urge to take out those we believe to be the absolute worst in society with a sledge – hammer. – Anuja Chandramouli
P.S: Am Waiting to read her 3 new books. Check out all her books here.
Thanks a tonn Anuja for taking out time for this interview. I adore you forever and ever. 🙂 All pictures are copyright of the author.