Monday, December 11, 2017

Meet Veteran Author Rajendra Kher - Writer of Udayan - The Forgotten Pandava

Today we have Rajendra Kher the author of Udayan - The Forgotten Pandava.


Can you brief our readers about your educational and professional background?
I am a commerce graduate and I inherited the writing skills from my father the well-known Marathi author Late B.D. Kher who wrote over 100 books and was recipient of national & international awards including Soviet Land Nehru Award, Maharashtra State award etc. 
When did you start writing? (It may be your first article or blog.)
In 1982 I first wrote a short story named ‘Vidhata’ for a Magazine.
When did you decide to become a writer?
In 1992 I decided to become a writer.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to present ancient Indian culture and history through my writing to the world. I want my books/writings to be published in different languages of the world and be distributed though out the world. That is my ambition.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?
Udayan was the fifth valiant king in the lineage of the Pandava dynasty. (Some say, he was 26th). Kaushambi was the capital of Udayan’s empire. The king was an ace Veena player. Apart from the musical legacy from his forefathers he was a master of the Vedas, various arts and craft, different sciences and of course, use of different arms and weapons. Alas, all his qualities proved to be his undoing as far as politics was concerned. Because of them, he could hardly concentrate on the day-to-day governance of his empire. The empire that stretched from the sea to the Himalayas, started deteriorating and eroding as a result. Unable to bear the pain of watching the decline of the empire Yaugandharayan vowed to make the king wake up and do his job, and reclaim the lost glory once again. Thus began the conflict between the love for art in Udayan and sense of duty in Yaugandharayan. Around that time, Udayan learned from the book ‘Hastishiksha’ about a mammoth, blue bodied elephant by the name Neelkuvalayatanu. No one in India had ever seen such an elephant in those days. Udayan resolved to find the elephant and tame him with his music. One fine day, Udayan left his palace with a few of his most trusted men without informing anyone and started scouring the jungles for the Neelkuvalayatanu elephant. The news of this extreme pursuit of Udayan soon reached his sworn enemy Pradyot, the king of Avanti. King Pradyot had a beautiful daughter, Vasavdatta, who too was an avid player of Veena. In fact, Pradyot was searching for a capable guru for his daughter. When he learned from his informers about Udayan’s quest for the Neelkuvalayatanu elephant, Pradyot laid a trap. Udayan walked into the trap and he was captured by the soldiers of Pradyot. They dutifully took Udayan to Ujjayini. In the jail, Ghoshvati the Veena that was closest to Udayan’s heart was confiscated and was returned to him on the condition that he taught it to princess Vasavdatta! While all this was happening, Amatya Yaugandharayan was greatly distressed by the audacity of King Pradyot, who so swiftly took away the Vatsa king from under the nose of the brilliant Amatya. Yaugandharayan spread a net of his informers all over Ujjayini to bring Udayan back and take a revenge on Pradyot. However, Udayan himself created an obstacle for him. By now, he was deeply in love with Vasavdatta. There are many plots and subplots involving Vasantak, Vasavdatta and Yaugandharayan to influence the king of Magadh, the second marriage of Udayan and Padmavati, Udayan’s great and successful mission to reclaim his empire as per the plans of Amatya Yaugandharayan etc.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
  • Udayan: was an ace Veena player, was blessed with extremely good looks. Apart from the musical legacy from his forefathers he was a master of the Vedas, various arts and craft, different sciences and of course, use of different arms and weapons. An avid art lover that he was, Udayan loved a good life. He loved to drink alcoholic drinks sipped by his dasis and he used to have physical relations with them.
  • Yaugandharayan: Amatya Yaugandharayan, who was fiercely loyal to the empire and hence, was concerned enough for its state. The empire was a matter of constant concern for the Amatya. Thus began the conflict between the love for art in Udayan and sense of duty in Yaugandharayan.
  • Rumanwan: General in the form of Rumanwan, who, like Amatya Yaugandharayan, was completely dedicated and was extremely valiant. In the absence of the king’s attention, these two trusted lieutenants of his took care of the affairs of the state to the best of their abilities.
  • King Pradyot: Pradyot’s kingdom was quite large and he was a brave man himself. His enmity for Udayan was unilateral however and Udayan had largely ignored Pradyot’s political advances and diplomatic games against him.
  • Vasavdatta: King Pradyot had a beautiful daughter, princess Vasavdatta, who too was an avid player of Veena. In fact, Pradyot was searching for a capable guru for his daughter. The princess was swept off her feet by the extremely good looks and equally endearing qualities of Udayan. The two became inseparable soon. The two young and artiste hearts grew closer by the day.
  • Vasantak: He was loyal court jester.
Where did you get idea for this book?
I read dramas of Bhasa, ‘Pratidnya Yaugandharayan’ & ‘Swapna-vasavdatta’ in my childhood (around in 1970). They were beautiful stories and I decided to write a novel on this story when I finished my novel on Arjuna in 2003. 
In last 7 years, we have seen gigantic wave of books on mythological history. Did this wave help you to get your book selected by publisher? Would you like to tell us how the initial response of publishers for this book was?
No doubt, this wave helped me. When I submitted the MS, I received contract from Ms. Chandralekha Maitra, editor-in-chief within no time. 
How much research did you do for this book?
For almost three years I was reading many books on the subject. I read ‘Pratidnya Yaugandharaya’, & ‘Swapna Vasavdatta’ by the great poet-writer Bhas. ‘Bruhat Katha’ by Gunadhya, ‘Katha saritsagar’ by Somdevbhatta, ‘Bharatiya Sanskriti Kosha’ ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Samarangan sutradhar’ and many more! Got information from the net.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? (If applicable)
King Udayan the hero of this novel is my favorite. I am a music lover. And Udayan is a musician King. So I have tried to focus on his point of view and an artist’s creative mind.
Who is your least favorite character and why? (If applicable)
Yaugandharayan is the second best character of this novel. He is the best administrator. He has steady intelligence. Not emotions but duty towards the Kingdom and faithfulness towards the King is his prime motto. 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
It was hard for me to write the intimate scenes of Udayan and Vasavdatta.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?

What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on the great sage/ Rishi Agasti.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I like to write separate book/novel rather than a series of books.
How was your experience with Publishing house (Lead Start)?
Leadstart editorial team is very capable and helpful. Especially Chandralekha Maitra and CEO Mr. Swarup Nanda. They have tried to make available different platforms to this novel. Promotional guidance is also given from time to time by Lead Start Team. 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Experience is very important capital – experience of writing and reading is apart; aspiring author should see and experience real life out there! In my writing I present positivity – not melodrama. My thinking is, if you don’t have solutions; why you create or write on problems?
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
  • 6 prestigious awards
  • Personal Letter from the then President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam after reading English translation of my novel on Bhagavad-Gita: THE SONG OF SALVATION.
  • Bestseller Marathi Author. Over 1 Million direct readers.
  • Received profound praise to my novel on the life of Rev. Pandurang Shastri Athavale, the founder of Swadhyay Pariwar of millions of people world-wide. This original Marathi novel is translated in other 3 languages viz: English (THE SILENT REFORMER), Gujarati & Hindi.
  • Pioneer of Novel, which is written on any philosophy. My novel on Bhagavad-Gita Geetambari – THE SONG OF SALVATION - received great response from critics as well from readers.    
Links for your book readers
We would like to thank Leadstart Publishers (Frog Books) for providing this opportunity to connect the author. Readers can check their wonderful collection of books by going through this link - Leadstart Books
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