Q&A: DEVDUTT PATTANAIK

Devdutt Pattanaik, au­thor, on his lat­est book, fans, crit­ics, and il­lus­trat­ing his works

India Today - - INSIDE - —with Sopan Joshi

Q. What’s the story be­hind your lat­est book, Shyam: An Il­lus­trated Retelling of the Bhag­vata?

Af­ter writ­ing about the Ma­hab­harata and the Ra­mayana, the third great Hindu epic, the Bhag­vata Pu­ran, was an ob­vi­ous next step. Be­sides, I haven’t come across any­thing else that tells the story of Kr­ishna from birth to death.

Q. How did you start il­lus­trat­ing your books?

Draw­ing comes nat­u­rally to med­i­cal stu­dents. But 90 per cent of the peo­ple don’t re­alise that I’m the il­lus­tra­tor of my books. A lot of artists have been gen­er­ous in praise.

Q. How do read­ers re­spond to your work?

I have read­ers telling me that I make things sim­ple and ac­ces­si­ble, that my writ­ing is highly in­for­ma­tive, that it’s a pan-In­dian view and a re­fresh­ing per­spec­tive. That the books make them happy.

Q. And the crit­ics?

Very few crit­ics are in­ter­ested in the sub­ject of mythol­ogy. Mythol­ogy has been a stepchild since colo­nial times. There’s only aca­demic ma­te­rial. And aca­demics write for each other. I en­joy the first mover’s ad­van­tage. Ev­ery day, I dis­cover new things. It’s like Alice in Won­der­land. I don’t have a par­tic­u­lar point of view.

To­tal num­ber of pages 100 (in­clud­ing cover pages)

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