Interview with Asmit Rathod
Asmit Rathod is an author of Indian origin who lives in Australia at present. Deeply affected by India, Indians and everything about India, he writes novels, poetry and also shayaris and ghazals. His debut novel Life is a Bitch has done better compared to other debuts made in 2015. Interested in writing about the common men and common men’s feelings, Asmit intends to write the works that can connect with the readers easily.
Alok Mishra: How did you come into writing fiction, Asmit? When and how did you decide to write your first book?
Asmit Rathod: I observed that making a socially unwise choice is always a risky business, and so the majority of us tend to make decisions which are practical and in accordance with social norms.
But the question remains that who decides what is a practical decision and what is not?
As the years passed, this single question began to grow stronger within me and for reasons unknown to me, I thought of a character “Kumar”; a character who, out of sheer impulse ends up making so-called unwise choices in his life.
Kumar, who largely resembles with the majority of middle-class youth of India, gradually grew so strong within me that it became impossible to keep him confined within the boundaries of my conscious. With “Life is a Bitch’ I have brought him out to daylight.
Alok Mishra: When and how did you leave India? As you live in New Zealand now, does it affect when it comes to choosing your themes and plots to write a novel? As you have said, Indian society has too much to offer to make an author a world-class writer!
Asmit Rathod: I left India in the year 2002 for New Zealand and in the year 2007 I moved to Australia.
Staying away from your motherland has its own advantages and disadvantages.
While away from home, you begin to appreciate those small-small things found only in Indian society that you usually took for granted while you lived there. You start to understand and appreciate the unique social fabric of Indian society.
The disadvantage as a writer is, while living in western society, it becomes difficult to create different characters or incidents in the backdrop of India, especially of the rural environment.
Also, there is no place in the world which is so diverse. Life in Assam can be totally different than life in Kerala and so on. A lifetime may not be long enough to understand India in totality. Because of this unique diversity, I feel Indian culture, Indian society offers the best backgrounds for some amazing stories.
To understand India better, I frequently visit India- at least twice in a year. My next book is a love story of a girl from Banaras and I intend to live at least three months in Uttar Pradesh-mainly in Banaras to get the real feel of life in that part of the world.
Alok Mishra: You have picked your characters almost from real life in your debut novel. Please elaborate on that.
Asmit Rathod: Yes, you are right Alok. Kumar and other characters are not completely fictional. To some extent, the character of Kumar is inspired by the ups and downs of my own life. Other characters are too have some resemblance to the real people I have met. Even the places I have chosen- Goa and Singapore- I have lived there or have visited frequently. Singapore is my most favourite city-state. Though it is largely a business hub, somehow, I find Singapore very romantic.
Alok Mishra: How do you see the Indian book market today? How do you read the mind of your target readers? Do you plan before writing a fiction or you just write and then look for the ideal readers?
Asmit Rathod: Indian book market which is the 3rd largest English book market after only USA and UK, has a bright future. Indian have a great appetite for a good story.
No, I do not write for any particular audience. I simply write about life around me in as simple words as possible and hope that my readers may be able to identify themselves with at least some parts of it. Because of the simplicity of narration, One major criticism I received for ‘life is a bitch’ was that it didn’t have any literature in it.
Alok Mishra: Asmit, when it comes to writing, I have learnt that you also write poetry in Hindi and shayaris, ghazals as well. What kind of writing are most of those?
Asmit Rathod: I got interested in Shayaris, ghazal by reading some very good creations on Facebook. I so much liked this particular form of expression that I took serious interest to learn it. I usually write on the romance and beauty of a woman. I do not prefer to or you may say I cannot write sad Ghazals. Though one cannot deny the existence of pain in life, I prefer to look at the positive side of it.
But, the prose is my first love. Ghazals, I write only as a hobby and haven’t thought about writing them professionally yet.
Alok Mishra: Please share about your future plans. What books are you planning after Life’s a Bitch?
Asmit Rathod: Currently I am working on two projects. The first project is a fiction titled “Incomplete manuscript”, which is a love story of a middle-class girl of Banaras. I intend to publish this book in English as well as in Hindi. The Second project is a horror film script, tentatively called “Anhoni”. I am very much keen to make an entry into Bollywood as well.
Alok Mishra: Reading your book and knowing about you, one can easily find that the characters have many things in common with you. How much do you think personal experiences matter in writing fiction?
Asmit Rathod: Majority of the writers, when they write their first book, they tend to write a story based on a personal experience of their lives. I did the same.
But I feel, it is good enough only for once. A good writer has to learn to look at life in different perspectives, other than his/her own. It’s advisable to write by observations than experiences. That way a writer can connect with a wider range of readers. The idea is to increase one own’s range of writing and connect to a larger reader base.
Alok Mishra: How do you deal with negative feedback or criticism? Does it affect or you just learn from it and move ahead?
Asmit Rathod: Well, since Life is a Bitch was my first book, I was expecting and was ready for criticism. I knew, getting everything right at first shot was a bit too much to ask. So, I accepted appreciation and criticism equally. Criticism is good if you intend to become a good writer.
Alok Mishra: Well, coming to the Indian English literature in contemporary age, how do you see it? Are the authors able to meet readers expectations? How do you see literature yourself? What’s your purpose behind writing fiction, Asmit?
Asmit Rathod: Any form of Art is aimed at enriching the society in some or the other ways. Literature not only entertains us, makes us experience different emotions, it also helps to understand things around us in a different light.
As far as I am concerned, I strongly believe that a book, in the end, should have some message or some learning to take home for readers. If a book doesn’t change a reader’s mind, even in the smallest way, it’s not worth reading.
I am so sorry, I haven’t read much of Indian literature so I am not able to comment on it. But I have learned that Indian writers are beating even their foreign counterparts in terms of popularity and sales. And That really is good news.
Alok Mishra: And at last, many thanks for your time and your answers to my questions. I wish you all the best for your future works!
Asmit Rathod: Thank you so much Alok. It indeed was nice to talk to you. I promise that I start reading the Indian literature now so next time we can discuss it in much details.