Asmit Rathod is the author of Life is a Bitch, a novel published in 2015. He is currently writing his second novel and a Bollywood movie script. Here is a conversation that our team had with him.
Literature News: Asmit, before we begin, how do you envision your writing? What’s the role of an author in terms of contributing to society?
Asmit Rathod: Let me begin by answering the second part of your question and answer it in a broader spectrum.
The contribution of a writer to society is immense. In fact, they build societies. They define the fundamentals of cultures. The best example of that is our ancient rishi-muni who wrote Vedas, Upanishads, which by and large laid the foundation for our Indian civilization.
Same goes for other cultures too. Quran, Hadees and other literature shaped Islam and similarly Old Testament and new Testament shaped Christianity in today’s form.
The huge impact of writings of great thinkers like Plato, Aristotle and Karl Marx is very much evident even today on our civilization. Coming back to the modern era, the modern day writers too have an impact on society, however small it may be.
I believe that a writer is a thinker first. And when a thought is coupled with sensitivity or knowledge, the outcome is a book, a book worth reading, I look forward to writing thought-provoking books blended finely with a reflection of present-day society.
LN: How do you believe your debut book, Life is a Bitch, was unique? What will you tell the readers who haven’t read your book yet?
AR: I found that In Indian society, there is some kind of blind race of scoring higher grades only to get into a comfortable career. Our kids are not taught to look beyond the safety of a job. Life is a Bitch is my honest attempt to break that mould. I firmly believe that youth should not look for comfort in life but look for challenges and contribute actively in creating a dynamic and vibrant society.
LN: In a novel you write, how much personal elements and how much of imagination are there? And also, how important is realism according to you for a writer?
AR: Being my debut novel, the protagonist of ‘Life is a bitch’ largely resembles with me. Other characters are by and large imaginary.
Though we usually adore larger than life characters, we only identify ourselves with those characters which sound real. A realistic character appeals to the reader much quickly and deeply.
As I understand it, real as well as imaginary characters are equally important. End of the day, it all depends on the objective of a writer for creating a particular character and also the society that character belongs to.
LN: How much importance do you give to other forms of your writing – poetry and shayaris? Tell us about your interest in writing poems.
AR: I feel poetry is a more effective form of expression than any other artistic forms. Poetry has more potential to reach to the masses through word of mouth. What can be a better example than Ramcharitmanas or Kabir ke dohe that has reached to the population which is not even literate.
I feel lucky to have born in a country of Urdu shayaris. It’s a wonderful form of expression. in a few words, a shayar can make you feel the most complex emotions and touch your heart.
I compare Sher with modern day twitter where people put forward their opinions or views in just 140 words and yet its a major force in opinion building in a modern society.
Same goes with a she’r. A skilled shayar can touch your heart, or can make you ponder in just two lines. I cannot resist reciting my own she’r to justify that.
मेरी बात तो अलग ही है, मेरे शोख़ तो अलग ही है
मुझे ज़िंदगी से ना डरा, मेरे ख़ौफ़ तो अलग ही है
LN: Also, do tell our readers about your upcoming projects.
AR: My upcoming book “Incomplete Manuscript” is a book within a book, a story within a story. It’s a love triangle between two boys and a girl. while the Book is written from the perspective of a protagonist, the story within the story is a story of a girl from Banaras. That within a story is in the form of a manuscript and so the title. In the end, the manuscript doesn’t remain incomplete but reaches its most natural conclusion.
LN: Tell the readers of Literature News about your thinking behind the plots and themes of your writings. How do you decide the subjects that you will feature in your writing? For instance, how did you decide the subject for your upcoming novel – a girl from Varanasi?
AR: The idea of ‘Incomplete Manuscript’ has sprung from a simple fact that “Though it’s good to love someone, it is best to be loved by someone”. I am writing this entire book to establish this single fact, which I believe stands true in any genuine relationship.
LN: We have all heard that a good writer is always a good reader too. Please tell us about your reading habits, Asmit. Who are the authors you read and admire?
AR: My reading is not limited to any particular subject or a particular genre. I love to read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, history, sci-fi, self-help, biographies anything. But I am a bit more partial towards Biographies of great people. I still remember how I felt when I read the book “ Iacocca – an autobiography” during my high school days.
I believe every book is an idea so I do not favour any author as I believe in exploring ideas. I feel popularity should not be equated with good writing so I do not always go for popular writers.
LN: And as you are an author considering to launch your second novel, it has already about four years passed since your first – how much do you think the book market has changed? What are the challenges in front of new authors today?
AR: The biggest challenge any writer faces is that of a readership. Globalization and digitalization have opened unlimited options for a reader. A reader from even a small town doesn’t have to rely on a local book store or a library to source books of his/her preference.
Services likes kindle, audible has changed the way books are read. With so many self-publishing services in the market, the number of books published every year is unprecedented. The literature space is crowded with too much noise to grab attention. In this scenario, to find a readership of loyal followers, I believe is the greatest challenge.
LN: And when can we expect to see your second novel in the market? What would you like to tell the readers who are anticipating your second novel, Asmit?
AR: I thought about ‘Incomplete Manuscript’ not long after my first book got published but due to some personal reasons, I couldn’t start it. But now, when I have started it, I expect to complete it by mid-2020.
LN: We at Literature News wish you all the best for the second novel and all your future projects!
AR: Thanks a lot. It was nice talking to you.