Monday, January 23, 2017

Meeting with Authors of The Unconquerable Heart

'The Unconquerable Heart' was a completely different book and uncommon in Indian literature. Author Duo Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay has created a story with five strong characters. We have reviewed and praised their efforts three months back on our blog post. Let's try to discuss various aspects of their book and how they made their journey through the book.

Can you tell us about your professional life apart from writing?
Shiva Thejus: I worked briefly for G.E, back in India after graduation. But it was a full time job. My bro, never worked for an employer. He’s been involved with our family business the whole time.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Shiva Thejus: I always dreamt of being an actor and I always wanted to do niche roles. But I never approached any producers or directors for roles. Hailing from a business family, I wanted to make my own movies and started observing and dissecting more and more movies, both local and International and naturally, the writer in me took wings. ‘The Unconquerable Heart,’ was my first script and I wrote it almost twelve years ago in a span of a fortnight, but back then the script was titled, ‘Rise of the Legend,’ and it was completely different from what you see now, it was suited only for the local audience (read as Indian). Following that, I understood I could write, and wrote a couple of other scripts as well.
Sri Vishnu Tanay: I had a natural flair for English language as well as for my native tongue, Telugu, when I was in high school. In fact, languages were the only subjects I topped in high school, without much of an effort. I was often lauded by high school teachers for my rich and eloquent school essays and my natural instinct for detail. I participated in a couple of school debates and was often called to deliver speeches for the ‘National Independence and Republic’ days, from the school’s podium. I was a ‘Star’ back then in school and had quite a following. But, that was all to it. I never really tried to be a writer. After graduation, I got myself involved in family business and that was it. I had no intentions of becoming a writer. But, I kept up with my brother’s efforts and was naturally drawn to improving his stories. But, writing was never my full time profession and though, I’d refurbished the story of ‘The Unconquerable Heart,’ almost four years ago, It took me all the while till 2015 year end, to really sit down delicately and finish it in whole.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing? Do you have a special time to write?
Shiva Thejus: Both of us are not full time writes as of now. I’m here in the U.S lobbying to portray ‘Munna Kaalika’s’ character, from our work, ‘The Unconquerable Heart.’ And, my bro who’s in India, is back to family business, at least, until I crack something here. He longs to be a Director someday.
Well, both of us don’t have any special allotted times to write. We both write on whim, whenever we please or whenever a new idea strikes us.
What have you written so far?
Shiva Thejus: A lot of scripts, spanning different genres. But, most of them are not ‘Final Draft’ ready. This is the only Novel, we’ve written so far. It’s our debut into the literary world. We’ve written scripts on Religion, Romance, Sci-fi, Societal issues, Fantasy, Comedy and even a raw ensemble on human sexual intricacies. 
How do you conceptualize a plot generally?
Sri Vishnu Tanay: It starts out as a general idea, then it progresses to an outline, then a plot sketch, then inner plots, then situations in inner plots, then a fixed ‘set path’ that blooms into a full blown screenplay.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Sri Vishnu Tanay: The Unconquerable Heart is a work of Fiction, where Five unassuming and prejudiced individuals battle out multiple obstacles, thrown against them by a malicious bigoted world, to present it with a collective Statement of Liberalism, shaming the very notion of bigotry.
Tell us more about your main character. What makes him or her unique?
Shiva Thejus: There is no single central main character in our story. There are five main central characters and each of them have their own stories. All of them are unique in their own ways and no character is lesser than the other.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay: Apart from the main five characters, there is one character, which we personally love the most – The character of ‘The Big Sister’ – Durga Didi. Durga Didi is a ‘Eunuch elder’ who shelters ‘Kaalika Devi’ and helps to raise ‘Munna Kaalika.’ Single-handedly, she gathers the sympathy of the entire Hijra (Eunuch) clan for Munna’s cause and plays an instrumental role in shaping his outlook and his fighting techniques. She is a wall. Period. A wall so strong that thousands of prejudiced souls from the Sonagachi area (the biggest brothel area in all of Asia), vouch by her and live by her principles. Her character is enigmatic, and down to earth. She is an inspiration of our very own four elder mothers, who stood by our mother, their lil sister, throughout our financial problems. You will find the names of our elder mothers in the Dedication Page of our book.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay: Tretan Bliecher – He is the villain of the story. He is a perfect embodiment of the evil that’s dormant in all of us. He is meticulous, calculative, cunning, narcissistic, egoistic, and is a megalomaniac. He is a Nazi-sympathizer and a sworn hater of the Jewish faith, a perfect misogynist and a racial supremacist, who still holds the black community in contempt. He would go to lengths to prove his superiority and see to it that his opponents are not just humbled, but trampled upon. He is ultra-rich and abuses God-given wealth to perfection. He has no remorse, no conscience, no regard for human feelings and is absolutely insensitive to human emotions. Every one of us has a streak of such negativity, only that it remains dormant until such time, when it’s stoked. People, in ‘POWER,’ (the term is explained in detail in our Authors’ section) who could remain passive without embroiling themselves in actions that could hurt others feelings, are a rarity nowadays and such humbleness requires a lot of self-control and restraint upon natural egos and inborn-inclinations. Tretan Blicher, may be our less favorite, but he is instrumental in bringing out the best in all of the five central characters - Testing their limits to prejudice and eventually making them preserve in their conviction to prove themselves to his devilish bigotry.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Shiva Thejus: This story had germinated in my mind just like that. Back then, I had no inclination to associating myself with any particular genres. My aim was to show the protagonist as a survivor of hardships and portray him as someone with extremely tough mettle. Indian movies are all about Hero worship and it naturally rubbed on me.
Sri Vishnu Tanay: I strongly felt that we could hit the Oscars with this story. But, it was unpolished gold. Being an avid follower of politics and contemporary world issues. I felt that each character could be shown, in such a way, to highlight the draconian ills the American society and the world as a whole still faced. Luckily, the story shaped up extremely well, bringing the plight of the prejudiced people – LGBT and racially abused classes to the forefront. The story also highlights other issues like Nazism and Misogyny as well. Though, it’s a gripping drama, it’s a very strong, message-oriented story.
What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
Sri Vishnu Tanay: We treaded on a lot of societal issues like LGBT, Racism, Nazism, Misogyny and Bigotry in ‘The Unconquerable Heart.’ Lot of people don’t even know the actual meaning of these words, let alone sensibilities towards them. But, all of us do have a natural inclination towards those ills. On an everyday basis, people might unconsciously be involving themselves in one or the other above ills, without thinking of the opposite person’s sensibilities. Our work is a lot more than Fiction. It is message oriented, and it tries to sensitize people’s sensibilities towards the above issues, by bringing the plight of the socially abused classes, in a poignant manner, to the reader’s attention. 
What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Shiva Thejus: Right now, I’m touch basing actors and directors in Hollywood to re-create ‘The Unconquerable Heart’ on celluloid. It’s like, door to door canvassing as of now. However, promotion of the novel is being taken care by our publicist.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay: It took us 12 long years, to ultimately get to this stage. Writing was a breeze, but the travel was tedious and cumbersome.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay: The story is bound to make any intense reader to reflect upon oneself and give a good thought about the society around him/her. This is exactly what happened with us too. We are better persons now than we were before and are definitely more sensitive to other people’s thoughts and emotions. This is the best part of writing this work.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
Kaalika Devi – Christian Bale
Hazeem Okonjo – Jada Pinkett Smith
Sylvia Amdur – Natalia Portman
Ethan Chapman – Dwayne Johnson
Munna Kaalika – Shiva Thejus
Durga Didi – Chow Yun-fat
Tretan Bliecher – Keanu Reeves
What is your next project?
Shiva Thejus & Sri Vishnu Tanay: Our immediate target, is to get ‘The Unconquerable Heart’ made into a movie. We have something almost ready on ‘religion’ and it’s going to be satirical and thought provoking.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Sri Vishnu Tanay: I would say, if you’re writing out of passion, then don’t expect money and If you’re writing to earn money and establish yourself as a professional writer, then I’d say, ‘Buddy! You’ve got a long road ahead. So, just keep your pockets a little filled. You might just need to burn some extra buck down the bumpy road! And, may God bless you with oodles of patience.’Siva Thejus : Comeon bro, don’t be so cynical. There are a lot of overnight successes. But, of course, we never know, whom choosy lady luck amours and smiles upon.
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