Swapna Peri: Welcome to the Literature Today, Mr. Ajinkya Deshmukh. Congratulations on the release of your book,’The Shining Warrior’. What responses are you getting from your readers? Please share your experience with this book.
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Thank you. It is such a pleasure. I am glad to say that the response for my book ‘The Shining Warrior’ have been quite encouraging. ‘The Shining Warrior’ marks an important phase in my life and career. I have been strongly influenced by the great epic Mahabharata right from my childhood. Moreover, I have always put my faith in the notion that the great Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata hold the key to the questions faced by us in this day and age. We just the need the will to locate it. The lead character in the book is, in my opinion, everyone who struggles and wishes to make a mark in history. Although the backdrop of the book is based in Mahabharata, each and every page of it resonates with modern sensibilities and aspirations.
Swapna Peri: The cover image of the book is an artistic depiction of fully adorned warrior King Karna. But, he hung his head. The title and the page are in contrast. Can you explain the theory behind it?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: The answer of this question lies in the title ‘The Shining Warrior’. The lead protagonist of the book Karna, had to endure unimaginable hardships, prejudices and contempt on account of his desire to follow the path he chose. In doing so, he had to burn like his spiritual father, the sun god to showcase his brilliance to the world. If you look carefully at the cover picture of Karna, he is shown without his congenital armour which he donated to Lord Indra following his pledge and character of being a ‘Daanveer’, an altruist. He is not so much hanging his head as deriving strength during battle from his life of pain, as it were. So, in more ways than one, the shining warrior is harnessing the injustice meted out to him to prove to the world his mettle. Hence, the cover image and its background perfectly represent the title.
Swapna Peri: What are your achievements so far? Tell us something about your writing career.
Ajinkya Deshmukh: I had been the content creator for a number of coffee table books for a leading media house. Moreover, I have also interviewed over 400 celebrities, professionals, business magnates et al as a journalist. Conceptualization, event management, project management, content development, public relations and digital marketing have been my core areas of work so far.
Swapna Peri: How did the idea of re-writing the whole episode of Karna in a poetic manner happen?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Instead of the word ‘rewrite’ I would use the word ‘represent’. ‘The Shining Warrior’ is a representation of the fact that no matter how much evil you are subjected to, there is still a world of good you can do and stand for in your life. In my opinion, poetry is one of the best forms of representation of human emotions. Therefore, I ventured to portray the life of Karna in a poetic way.
Swapna Peri: Since you wrote about Karna, on a personal level, what are your thoughts on him?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Karna is an ideal depiction of what a human being is all about. He has his virtues and he has his fair share of vices as well. Moreover, what makes him a special character is his ability to overcome his weaknesses. He does it by acknowledging them and wearing them like his congenital divine armour. He is not perfect by any stretch of imagination yet he stands apart from the crowd like the sun does among other stars.
Swapna Peri: How difficult was it for you to re-write such big book into small and easily readable poems? How many days did you take to complete the book?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Let me clear it at the very outset that I was not rewriting or rephrasing any book related with Karna. ‘The Shining Warrior’ is a poetic account of the struggle every deserving and ambitious person faces while proving his worth to the world. It’s a series of whys, if you will, one asks to destiny, kin, peers and most importantly the powers that be while charting their paths to success. Since the whys are relatable, they are also easily readable to us. Furthermore, I didn’t keep a tab on the number of days it took me to write this book as I have been simultaneously working on other projects as well. However, the whole process must have been of about four months before I was ready with the final draft.
Swapna Peri: How do you like poetry? What is your favorite book of poems and why?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Poetry is a way of expression I have always been fascinated with. It’s the most crisp, concise and conclusive way of defining our strengths and weaknesses. Mahabharata is an epic which is written in a wonderfully poetic form. It is also one of my favourites. William Shakespeare’s sonnets are really dear to me. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience has always been close to my heart.
Swapna Peri: Do you think reading poetry is better? And why?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Poetry and prose are not antonyms of each other. On the contrary, they are inseparable like earth and gravity. They are complementary to each other. There is always poetry in prose and vice versa. A person with a prosaic bent of mind will always appreciate poetry in prose and a person with a poetic bent of mind will surely applaud prose in poetry. It is just a matter of perspective. Therefore, what’s important is you read, irrespective of whether it is poetry or prose. That’s something everyone must do inasmuch as there is a treasure lurking behind every paragraph and stanza crafted by a writer.
Swapna Peri: When did your interest began in writing?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Well, at the age when I actually began reading. On a serious note, writing has been my getaway, a place of my own where I feel most comfortable, akin to a mother’s lap. Right from my childhood, I have been fascinated by literature. I have been reasonably well-versed in the art of writing since my school days thanks to my mother who is my first teacher and the brilliant and dedicated group of educators I was blessed with right from my childhood.
Swapna Peri: What is the basis of your interest in epics like Mahabharata?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: I have grown up in a religious household. I can’t possibly describe my gratitude in words to my late grandmother for introducing me to the great treasure troves of Ramayana and Mahabharata. She had received no formal education yet she could explain even the most complex of verses from the Hindu scriptures with ease.
Swapna Peri: What did you want to tell the world with your book?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: My approach towards writing has been more about expressing human strengths in a brilliant light. Instead of telling the world what ought to be done, I prefer to strive and create quality content that the readers find worth spending their precious time on. We all are fighting a battle in our lives. ‘The Shining Warrior’ is a proof of the fact that though the path ahead of us is rough, we can clear it and smooth it out for the future generations with our work.
Swapna Peri: What is your idea of modern poetry in India and the world?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Modern day poetry in India is a reflection of the changing Indian landscape of thought and action. I would say it is the way in which India looks at itself and the world. The tenets of modern thought and a global outlook have always been an intrinsic part of Indian culture and practices. It is heartening to see the young generation of India getting attracted towards poetry as the recent data suggests. Free verse, untraditional forms of poetry have contributed immensely in enhancing the appeal of poetry in the world.
Swapna Peri: How you see Indian writing in the 21st century? What changes do you see in the modern way of writing? Do you feel it changed with the passage of time?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: Indian writing, in my humble opinion has been undergoing through a sea of changes in the past few years. Not only has it showed India and its sensibilities in a different light to the world but also encouraged a number of writers such as me, who come from the middle class working backgrounds that no story is worth keeping under the wraps, so to speak. Modern Indian writing is empowering. It is a means of self-exploration, reinvention and a rich source of motivation. The traditional way is steadily giving way to a disruptive way of thinking and action. The characters of the 21st century Indian writing have many shades that they is not afraid of expressing without any fear out in the open. I am proud to say that in keeping with this transition, ‘The Shining Warrior’ does full justice to a pragmatic and a progressive approach to writing.
Swapna Peri: What are your plans for 2021?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: I am happy to say that my hands are full with varied kind of projects. I am currently working on a book based on autistic children and their families. Moreover, I am also working on content development and digital marketing projects.
Swapna Peri: What message would you like to give to budding authors?
Ajinkya Deshmukh: The only message I like to give is the one that I follow dedicatedly. Be curious about life and if an idea or a thought wakes you up from sleep, don’t let it go before noting it down somewhere. It’s extremely important to have faith in what you write as much as it is necessary to have the willingness to reject your own draft if need be.