Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Bond- Meet and Greet with Ashwin Sanghi

It’s not every day that one receives a phone call to attend an exclusive meet with a national bestselling author, least of all the same author who had judged your story and found it good enough to be published. The author is none other than Mr.. Ashwin Sanghi who has churned one successful book after another, namely The Rozabel Line, Chanakya’s Chants, The Krishna Key and Private India (co-authored with James Patterson).

The meet with the author was organised as a prelude to the fifth edition of ‘Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest’ which is scheduled to be held from 30th October to 2nd November in Mumbai. The venues of the event are NCPA, Nariman Point (Oct 30 – Nov 2) as well as Prithvi Theatre and The Easel in Juhu (Nov 1-2).

The Book Bond- Meet and Greet with Ashwin Sanghi was organised on the 20th of October at Taj Vivanta, Cuffe Parade. Apart from the fantastic venue, the event even boasted of hosting Mumbai’s finest bloggers. The Tata Group needs to be given credit to bringing together such versatile bloggers under one roof.

The event started with the host Mr. Anil Dharker, who is the festival director as well, enlightening us about the Lit Fest. He went on to speak about how this year’s LitFest was bigger and better than the previous four editions. Mr.. Sanghi kept nodding in agreement; he added that the Tata LitFest was the most authentic literary festival in India with multitude of people actually standing in long queues to attend the festival.

Once the bloggers were informed about the LitFest, Mr. Dharker went on with his discussion with Mr. Sanghi. The various topics discussed included the present and the future of Indian literature, challenges of getting published in the Indian market, authenticity of history and mythology, present state of poetry, and the discussion concluded with words of advice to the aspiring authors by Mr.. Sanghi.

Ashwin’s Reading Addiction

Mr. Sanghi spoke about his initial days as a “book-keeper” and the influence his grandfather, an avid book-reader himself, had on him as a kid which enabled Mr.. Sanghi to devour books one after another. He confessed that he cherishes each book given by his grandfather and has them even numbered.

‘The best gift a parent can give his child is introducing him/her to the world of reading.’

Authenticity of History and Mythology

Mr. Sanghi questioned the genuinity of history. It was news to me when he said that almost 200 versions of Ramayana had been written. He further said that the first book on Chanakya was written 900 years after his death. So history is the co-existence of facts and fiction.

‘I had once happened to come across a temple of Amitabh Bachchan. The saadhu was offering his prayers to a huge photo of Amitabh Bachchan. It was only when I stepped outside and saw the Amitabh Bachchan Chaalisiya being sold outside, did I realise that the saadhu was chanting the same incantation. Now if more of such temples come into existence, then 500 years down the line, Amitabh Bachchan would be treated as nothing short of a messiah. Perhaps the same has happened before.’

Traditional v/s Self-Publishing

Ashwin Sanghi’s ‘Rozabel Line’ was rejected by almost all the traditional publishers, forcing him to self-publish under the anagram Shawn Haigins. Since ‘Rozabel Line’ received critical acclaim, Mr. Sanghi decided to try to get the book published again in India. And this time, Westland publishers obliged.

‘Self-publishing is the easiest way to get yourself published. A literary agent may help you get past the initial hurdle and approach the traditional publishers but unless the content is worth reading, it’s very difficult to get it published by the traditional publishers; whereas in case of self-publishing, the content never matters.’

Advice to Aspiring Authors
  1. Always keep a peg of Whisky alongside you while writing.
  2. Market your book shamelessly.

Mr. Dharker announced the shortlists for three coveted Book Awards – Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year (Fiction and Non-fiction), Tata Literature Live! First Book Award (Fiction and Non-fiction) and Tata Literature Live! Business Book Award.

The highlight of the evening was the autograph session wherein Mr. Sanghi showed his humble side as he signed personalised copies of ‘Private India’ (I got all his four books autographed) and answered numerous questions by the bloggers.

The spectacular event was just a sneak peak to the four days LitFest.