Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview : Ruchir Gupta

Ruchir Gupta is a graduate in Medicine and is a practicing doctor in USA. He has authored various books that deal with the topic of anesthesiology. His interests include reading, traveling, learning history and blogging. His book 'Mistress of the Throne' is the story of Mughal queen Jahanara (reviewed here). It is pleasure to present his views here for the readers of Literary Sojourn. 

  1. Dr. Ruchir Gupta or writer Ruchir Gupta, which role gives you more pleasure and satisfaction?

Both roles provide a different method of satisfaction.  Medicine is a very gratifying field but one that doesn't allow much creativity. As a writer, I have the chance to create new worlds and give life to different characters.  It is this act of creativity that I feel keeps me young.

  1. What motivated you to write 'Mistress of the Throne'? What is so mystical about the Mughal period in your opinion?

The Mughal period has often been thought of as India's golden age.  Unfortunately, current communal conflicts have caused many of us to view Mughal culture as foreign, even though it was a blend of muslim and hindu traditions.  At the height of the mughal empire, 1/4 of humanity lived in its dominion and its economy was 50 times greater than that of Great Britain.  Thus, the mughal empire has always fascinated me for its ability to unite people and build an entire civilization.

  1. Why do you think, historical fiction genre is attracting more and more readers these days?

I think people are now reflecting more on their past.  As Indians, we were often given a distorted view of our history for the purposes of furthering British propaganda.  I think people are now realizing how advanced and admirable our history was and in that past lie some of the answers for the present time.

  1. Which authors do you admire and like to read the most, who have written historical fiction, focusing more on Mughal period? How would you compare the works of Dalrymple, Eraly, Alex Rutherford, Indu Sundaresan?

With the exception of Eraly, I have read all of the aforementioned authors.  Dalyrymple writes nonfiction so my book is of an entirely different genre.  I rely on his work for much of the facts for my mughal projects.  I have emailed him a few times and I am a great admirer of his.  Both Rutherford and Sundarasen deserve a geat deal of credit for launching bestsellers in this genre and thus bringing the Mughal story to the masses.  I, personally, like Sundarasen's style a little more than Rutherford's, but this is just my opinion.  Sundarasen spends a great deal of time describing the imagery of the scene so that one feels as though they are in the Mughal palace itself.  She also writes often from the female perspective.  Rutherford, by contrast, spends more time on describing action and battle scenes.  His books have been from the male perspective.  My book differs from theirs in that I think I delve more into character development and creating an emotional dimension for my characters.  Again, all of these books are great, but the writing style is different.

  1. Do you have a dream story that you would like to work on? 

My focus right now is on my series, The Mughal Intrigues, of which Mistress of the Throne is the first book.  I am working on a sequel and have not yet decided if this series would be a trilogy or have 4 different books.

  1. Why do you think Mughal period is becoming the focus of more writings compared to other periods in Indian history?

Mughals are royalty and are the premier royal family for India.  The 1857 rebellion had the aging Mughal Emperor as the standard bearer for the cause; the flag is raised every August 15 from the Red Fort of Delhi.  Thus, the Mughals have been intricately tied to India and its opulence.  Additionally, the Mughals are inherently Indian.  Most Mughal Kings married Hindu princesses.  At a time when a marriage between a hindu and a muslim is considered taboo, it is sobering to realize that centuries ago, this was common amongst the royalty.  In fact, Shah Jahan was 3/4 Hindu, though he followed Islam.  Even Aurengzeb, who is known for his fanaticism and his destruction of Hindu temples, married a Hindu princess.  Thus, it's this plurality that has attracted the attention of the masses.

  1. In your opinion, which is the safest and surest way to the hearts of the readers?
Character development.  Readers wish to connect with the characters and be able to share in their trials and tribulations.   Thus, good character development is a great way to engage the reader.

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