We interviewed Mohan Prasad. He has done B.Tech from IIT Delhi, MBA from IIM Lucknow and is currently a Manager, New Business Initiatives at Meritnation, New Delhi. He had topped the Bihar ICSE in 2001.
He has won several awards which include:
- Social Service Awards by the Governor of UP for support to a destitute girls’ home (Manisha Mandir, Lucknow), 2011 & 2014
- Rotary Youth Leadership Award by Rotary Club, Dhanbad Chapter, 2003
- Gold Medal and 100 percentile in Mathematics, International Assessment for Schools, UNSW, 2001
- National Rank 05, NSTSE 2000. National Rank 48, National Science Olympiad, 2001
- National Rank 10, NSTSE 2001. National Rank 09, EROSE Infotech Scholarship, 2003
- Winner of various B-Plan competitions, debates, carrom, table tennis & structural design events at college level
Let us know more about one of the most academically smart Author in his own words.
What inspired you to start writing?
My grandfather was a freedom fighter. He used to tell us a lot of stories of India of the 1940s as well as folk tales from all across the country. My mother also used to narrate stories to me and my siblings. This created in my young heart, a love for human stories with their intricacies, emotions and details. Later in life, I took to reading extensively books from different genres. In fact I would have read at least 700-800 books since my college days. I used to write short stories in school and was encouraged by my Hindi Literature teacher to put my mind into it. It was in my MBA days that I seriously started thinking of writing novels.
What did you liked to read when you were a boy?
Stories- in all forms used to amaze me. From the stories in my textbooks to monthly magazines to any novels I could get my hands on in school & college libraries, I would read then off as fast I could. I can say that I used to ‘hunt’ for stories for they served the need to engage my young mind and fuel my imagination. They also helped me connect with people I hadn’t met.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
The first challenge is creating the characters. And once they start taking lives of their own, it is very tough to control them. It seems they become masters of their own thought and actions and the writer at times has to adjust his imagination according to the wishes of his characters!
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Very much. Most of my free time goes into reading- books, topical information on latest events – typically those affecting the youth of the country. If there is any information/ statistics published in public domain about a recent topic, chances are that I would have glanced through it. I like keeping myself updated regards technological/social/political/environmental changes etc. I visited all the places that I have written in the book and am planning to visit the ones that are going into my next book as well.
What motivated you to write the book “Legacy”?
For quite some time, I have nurtured this urge to present to the younger generation a glimpse of the turbulent, yet decisive times in the recent history of India. Legacy does just that. I had heard stories how my uncle (An IITian and IAS officer) getting affected due to Emergency; one of my uncles getting arrested. I had heard some firsthand account of Sikh riots. I have seen the floods in Bihar etc, which all compelled me to put it all out to the young generation in an engaging story that they can relate to. History books can be boring, but historical fiction is quite loved. I had completed the book before the rise of the AAP, and now I can see a lot that the protagonist talks about the politics of the country being done by this new party.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Legacy”?
Two revolutionaries sacrifice love for ideology. Guided by venerable freedom fighters and influenced by salient turns in Indian history from 1960s to 1990s–especially Emergency, Operation Bluestar and Maoist movements–their paths diverge. ANITA grows into a Naxal strategist; DARSHAN turns into an acclaimed healer.
Born in 1959 in an activist family from an exotic Bihar village, Darshan enjoys an adventurous hostel life in Patna until JP movement electrifies the masses. Inspired by JP’s maxim “Students are the soldiers of Total Revolution,” Darshan starts leading protests. However, he’s soon grounded and sent to study in the unique Anglo-Indian village, McCluskieganj.
While Emergency represses India, Anita, a free-spirited schoolmate, bewitches Darshan. He ends up celebrating Congress party’s first electoral defeat by making love to Anita, who ironically admires Indira Gandhi. The teenagers in love choose colleges in Delhi—IIT and Stephen’s–to stay close; however, distressed by JP’s death, they quit studies after two exciting years.
Back in Bihar, they walk throughout the state for four years to know the people and understand their needs. They postpone their wedding to admit Darshan’s critically ill father to AIIMS. There, Darshan witnesses the rise of Sikh militancy and its suppression, which leads to Indira Gandhi’s murder. Riots against Sikhs ensue. As a disgusted spectator, Darshan tries to rehabilitate the victims.
Yet sickened by blood on Delhi’s streets, he leaves for Faizabad to meet NETAJI BOSE in hiding. To his surprise, Netaji interprets the Indian history and freedom struggle with a fresh perspective and warns, “You can’t transform the society alone. You have to make others rise.” Meanwhile, Maoism attracts Anita gradually and sucks her in when she castrates a rapist. Stunned, Darshan unsuccessfully implores Anita to return for his love, saying: “A free nation needs constructive revolutions and not destructive ones.” However, she argues, “When poison spreads to a limb, it has to be amputated.”
Tormented by nightmares about Anita, Darshan seeks solace in physiotherapy. His miracle healing gains fame in Ayodhya during the years when the temple controversy peaks. Yet appalled at Babri Masjid demolition, he forsakes Ayodhya for his Gurgaon ashram–built to capitalize on the economic liberalization.
A Canadian Naxal requests Darshan, now internationally famous, to fund a hospital. In return, he gets to meet Anita. The old love sparks again, and a pregnant Anita is disillusioned with Maoist violence. To protect his love, Darshan returns to Bihar to stay with Anita and SUBHASH, their son, and philanthropizes at her behest. Sadly, annoyed by his depraved colleagues, Anita leaves him within years and sends five-year-old Subhash away from him.
In 2013, Darshan informs Subhash, a promising cricketer, of his parentage and Anita’s death in exile. Bewildered, Subhash tries to fathom his parents’ lives and unfulfilled dreams while an exhausted yet optimistic Darshan entrusts the baton of social revolution to the next generation, saying: “Our heroes are as fallible as you, so from you will emerge new heroes.” To Darshan’s delight, Subhash forsakes college and cricket to travel across India. (“It was the first step towards fulfilling his mother’s dreams.”)
How did you come up with the idea of writing history fiction genre book?
I have a keen interest in Indian & world history as well as cultures, evolution of societies, revolutionary movements & human stories. This made me write history fiction. At times I feel the stories compelled me to bring them out, as if I was helpless. Besides, anyone with an interesting love story of his own would want to indulge in writing some romantic words as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie, Prem Chand, Orhan Pamuk, Chinua Achebe, Coetzee among many others.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
On an average, 3-4 hours. In fact, I had taken a sabbatical from work to focus on writing and could write longer hours then. Nowadays, I at times write for shorter periods depending on how much time I can devote to it.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
India needs writers and thinkers, who have the zeal to inspire young minds and who can stay real with content. Back your writing with ample research. Travel around the country or just read about our people. We are a big country, one of the oldest civilizations and we have an amazing diversity. This land is full of mind-boggling stories, ready to be brought out and told to everyone, who may not have had enough opportunities to explore. Play that role.
You can buy his book now: