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Book Reviews

Updated on: Sunday, November 07, 2021, 09:49 AM IST

Celeb Shelf: 'Instead of scrolling through my phone I read a book’, shares actor-turned-author Jugal Hansraj

The 'Mohabbatein' star who is basking in the praise coming his way for his recently-released 'The Coward and the Sword', gives a glimpse of his bookshelf and reveals his reading habits
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Jugal Hansraj wears many hats —he’s an actor, writer and a National Award-winning film director. Jugal made inroads into the audiences’ hearts as a child artiste in the movie Masoom and then went on to star as the lead in movies like Papa Kahte Hain and the multi-starrer, Mohabbatein. He also took the director’s chair for the animated film, Roadside Romeo and the Priyanka Chopra-starrer Pyaar Impossible.

Jugal made his debut as an author in 2017 with a children’s book, Cross Connection – The Big Circus Adventure. Now, he is back with another children’s book, The Coward and the Sword. Speaking about what inspired him to pen the book, Jugal says, “A journey I started over three years ago after the birth of my son has finally come to fruition. My novel The Coward and the Sword is truly a labour of love for me. The inspiration came to me from a Buddhist quote by the 13th century Japanese reformer, Nichiren Daishonin – ‘A sword is useless in the hands of a coward.’ A story started to form in my head and I started writing. To have the opportunity to be able to share my work with the world makes me feel so fortunate. I hope (if anything) I can inspire others through this book to find the courage within their own hearts.” Here the author, who has entertained many with his writings, gives a glimpse of his reading habits. Excerpts:

What’s your writing process? Where do you draw inspiration from?

My writing process is not a complicated one: I first visualise my story as if it is unfolding on the big screen and based on that I start making notes. I then develop it from there.

When did you get into reading? School or college? Or later?

I got into reading way back when I was in school. I loved spending time in my school library, so much that I eventually became a student librarian.

Which are your favourite books? How have they made an impact on you?

There are too many... In fiction, there’s The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and in non-fiction, I would pick A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The former taught me about the difference between ego and pride. The latter was truly educational and informative... It gave me a deeper understanding of our planet and us people got to where we are today.

Favourite authors and why do you like them?

Too many to mention but to name a few: PG Wodehouse, Bill Bryson, Ayn Rand; Anthony Bourdain, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, JRR Tolkien JK Rowling. William Dalrymple, Ruskin Bond, RK Narayan and many more!

Favourite genre and books you enjoyed reading from the genre?

I love reading fantasy, and travelogues by authors like Pico Iyer, Bill Bryson and J Maarten Troost.

You have a busy schedule, how do you take out time for reading?

When I’m busy and have a bit of downtime, instead of scrolling through my phone I read a book.

How many books do you read in a month?

After fatherhood, it’s a lot less — about one in six weeks, nowadays.

From where do you get book recommendations?

Friends, Kindle recommendations and from articles.

Do you prefer an ebook or a physical book? Why?

I prefer physical books... The feel and smell of the pages of a book are just wonderful. But I must confess, I read more ebooks nowadays just so I can save some space at home.

What’s on your ‘currently reading’ shelf?

I just finished reading We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. Next in the line are The New Human Revolution by Daisaku Ikeda; The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller, and Autumn Light by Pico Iyer.

Any special bookish memory you would like to share?

Laughing aloud heartily while reading books by PG Wodehouse and attracting stares from people who thought I was crazy!

Book adaptations (films/theatre/TV) you have watched and loved. Why?

I loved the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein, and the Noble House mini-series based on the book of the same name by James Clavell.

A book you want to see being made into a film?

My book, The Coward and the Sword

Classic (one or more) you haven’t read but claimed to have read?

(Laughs) I haven’t claimed to have read books that I haven’t read yet, but this sounds like a good idea!

Have you ever saved money to buy a book?

As a kid, I used to borrow books from the library, so I didn’t have to save up.

Book/ books you would recommend to our readers?

There are many, but the must-reads are books by Bill Bryson... They are educative, informative and yet entertaining and funny. I wish my school textbooks would have been as interesting and fun as Bryson’s books!

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Published on: Sunday, November 07, 2021, 09:49 AM IST
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