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Monday, June 10, 2013

An Interview with Ravindra Shukla - Author of A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life

A Maverick Heart Between love and Life is the story that takes you on a journey from the IITs to Wall Street. The same has been the journey of the author. Lets know from him what part was fact and what fiction. Here is Ravindra Shukla himself....

Q. When did you begin writing?
A: I began writing since I remember my life. To be more specific – I started writing movie script since 2001, converted script into full fiction in 2009 and edited final draft on 2011 when I was in India.  

Q. What is your motivation behind the same?

A: Key motivation came from an urge to share my thoughts and views with people. Book reflects events of my own life what happened in IIT campus, what happened in US corporate world (both Wall Street and Silicon Valley) and what’s happening now in India – current social-political revolution led by youth.

Q. You are also a member of the Film Writers Association, Mumbai. Tell us something more about your work on movie script writing?

A: In 2002, when I was visiting Finger Lakes area in New York, I saw screening of film “Seven Samurai” along with screening of “Godfather” at Cornel University, NY. I had read book “God father” and seen movie also. I was big fan of it. Screening of “Seven Samurai” next to God Father caught my attention. Since then I became fan of Kurosawa movie. I started following all classic movies – Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Satyajit Ray, Quentin Tarantino – you name it.

Q. How did your journey into writing a novel begin? How was the overall experience? Would you like to highlight important lessons or issues that you faced?
A:  Writing started with my urge to share my thoughts with people. I have seen enough life around me. I have travelled from a village to IIT to Wall Street and Silicon Valley. I am always looking for activities which can quench my thirst for knowledge, for meaning in life and emotional relation. From my journey, I have learnt more about publishing process, pain of editing and effort needed in marketing. Getting a book to a reader needs much more than just writing.

 Q. Tell us something about your recent book “A Maverick Heart: Between Love and Life”?
A:   A Maverick Heart -is about following what your heart says. It does not evaluate what is good/bad and what is beneficial. It is flow of life. It is about following what you believe and live that life. Life poses many challenges. Love is very intrinsic part where heart involvement of the heart is very deep. The balancing act between life’s problems and heart emotion is tricky. I have just given a maverick side - how does he do it. A maverick response (natural response) to what we face on to everyday life. 

Q. What triggered your imagination to write this story? How did you imagine the concept, the characters, etc?

A: Richita‘s character - A part of existence, like a background music going inside my mind always. She is the image of love and inspiration.Rahul’s character - Is nothing but reflection of my own thinking, living life on your terms. No looking back and no remorse. True evaluation is our own reflection to us. We do not need others opinions to correct us if we listen to ourselves.Neerav’s character – I wanted to share how people can contribute from different areas and background to good cause/meaningful cause, where they can derive satisfaction in terms of bringing something new to the world, We need both – leader who take the hit and people who support in the background. There is meaningful combination in this union. 

Q:  Are any of the incidents/characters depicted in the story real? How much of it is inspired by your life at IIT?
A: Most of the events are real. The story is an amalgamation of imagination with reality. First 1/3 part is from IIT. Inter IIT events, hostel fights, class room events, discussion about girls/boys/sports, conflict between secure career vs jumping into social events – all are real.

Q: Your character Rahul was very inspiring, how many people have you met who leave the smooth lucrative road and can be change makers like him?
A: Outliers are always rare, therefore I too have seen few but not many. There is always a Rahul struggling deep inside everybody heart but we just ignore him and thrust ourselves in convenient life. Fear of losing your current secure life makes it difficult for people to be Maverick.

Q: Your story highlights major concerns in Indian education, thinking and politics. Did you choose to address these issues or they just came by as a part of the story?

A: We need youth energy in all area. We do not need to segregate areas. We need fresh talent, innocent raw energy and maverick approach without any fear in different areas. I just hate compromises. We start compromising slowly and end-up losing ourselves. I included these issues to create this spirit

.Q: This is a question that has always puzzled me: Why do most people from IIT turn into authors?

A: May be there is burning desire to share their thought with others. What else can be reason? It is definitely not money. Technology is not good enough to quench their thirst. 

Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: Editing in particular, I write but when I have to re-edit and make it full proof, it becomes repetitive.  

Q. What is the best and worst part about being an author in your opinion? 

A: Best part - you can interact with a large number of people, share your ideas and thoughts and make difference. Bad part – it’s not high paying area. You need to still have your full time job. I am not talking about the few exceptions where people were good at marketing and did well or have somebody else to support in family. If you are sole earner in your family and have passion in creative world - its challenge to sustain both. 

Q. Did you ever get “The Writers Block”? How did you overcome it?

A: I am not sure what is “The Writers Block”? Let me Google it.

 Q. Who are your favourite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A:  Premchand – Deep emotion and realistic picture of life, Jaishankar Prasad - Sarcasm against society at best! , Kurosawa – Love all his script, Hemmingway – Winner takes nothing, Shakespeare – It’s all about “to be or not to be”, GB Shaw – Love all his plays, Victor Hugo – Epitome of realty and emotion, William Wordsworth – Child is father of man! 

Q. What books have most influenced your life?

A:  Perelman (Russian Mathematics) refusal, successful story of Asha Foundation, Indian corporate billionaire’s in Silicon Valley, Premchand, Prasad, William Wordsworth & Frost poetry.

Q. What are you reading currently?

A. I have been very busy in move and job transfer. Not having much time but planning to start poetry/classic one again. 

Q. Broadly what are your next projects (books and movies)?A: I have already picture of my next book. When a character high in academic research gets into conflict with underworld- what will happen.

Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?

A: We lack depth in current writing. Many epics become a hit; however serious writing - classical and message oriented is still lacking. I have read better literature 30-40 years back. We need to bring deep and sharp message thru current context. We just cannot enjoy only masala. Masala should be limited to 20%, rest should be real tough and raw content. We need raw talent, not practiced and trained masala. 

Q. Any advice for budding writers?

A: Just follow your heart and enjoy the journey. Do not accept anything less than your heart believes. And face the consequence of your action. Do not be scared to ask yourself – will I be happy if I did not try this? Life is not about result but giving a full attempt in what you believe. 

Q. A message for your readers?
A: Please read the book and share your reaction. It is character based story full of messages.  You know what to do best. Follow your own consent, heart. I do not believe in telling others what to do. I give my perspective thru my characters.Book is full of your own thoughts and contains a message. Please read and react.   


  1. Awesome Interview. Thank you Nimi and Mr.Ravindra Shukla for this insightful QandA. "Just follow your heart and enjoy the journey."-- Lovely message,

    Ankita Singhal

  2. I am glad you liked it Ankita :).