Epics and Harry Potter: Ragini Khanna’s book tales

An ‘epic’ start: I got into reading quite early on. I’m not an avid reader...but once I get interested in a book I make sure that I finish it. My mother used read out the Bhagavad Gita to me when I was a kid and everyday two hours were dedicated to reading the Gita. A director-actor friend of mine had gifted me the Mahabharata and it’s one of my most prized possessions. It is also one of my all-time favourite books; whether you read it as mythology or literature or civilisation or even screenplay...I think it has one of the most gripping screenplays.

Literary household: As a child I used to watch Mahabharata on TV and that’s how I got interested in the epic. Back then I also used to read a lot of Amar Chitra Katha and comics as well. I have always found Hindu civilisation to be very intriguing and I like to read books on that. My mother was a Hindi literature writer and both my uncles Kirtji and even Govindaji are so wise and well-learned. All of them are heavily into Ayurveda — all the four Vedas in fact — and Hindu scriptures. So, during my growing years, the atmosphere in my house was full of literature and performing arts. Since childhood I’ve been only hearing these things which have made a huge impact on my thinking and understanding of the world.

Impactful writers: My childhood favourite was Harry Potter. In fact, I am a big Harry Potter fan! When I read the first book and saw the movie I was mesmerised by the visual quality of the film and back then I had a huge crush on Daniel Radcliffe... it’s such a beautiful piece of work and another world altogether. Then as a kid I also used to read comics like Goosebumps. I have also read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, then there’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez... these are highly influential and profound writers who have made an impact on my thinking. I have also read a lot on women psychology and love reading unsolved mysteries...I find them very intriguing. I also want to read more books by Shakespeare and I love the way Manto writes...the language of both these writers is so beautiful...For me, if I am interested in a book I will finish it fast and if I lose interest then I let it go—which usually happens with fiction, I lose interest midway!

Reading on the go: I don’t carve out time for reading. What I do is if it’s a long distance journey or if I am travelling alone then I carry a book, if not a book then I read it on my iPad. I try not to read on iPad because I love holding a book...the smell of a new book gives me a high!

Recommendations galore: I have a lot of wise and intellectual friends who love to read and they give me some good recommendations.

E-book or physical book: I usually pick up a soft copy because I don’t want to waste paper (I try my best to do that) so I read on my iPad. But if I can’t find a soft copy then I pick up a physical copy—like comics, which I prefer in a physical format because they have beautiful visuals.

Currently reading: I am halfway through Lust for Life by Irving Stone.

Bookish memories: We used to have a library period where we used sit and read newspapers. Then I remember reading sweet girly books like Chicken Soup for the Soul with my cousin. I have a director friend who is extremely possessive about his books and DVD collection and every time I go to his house I steal one book and one DVD of course I return it later!

From word to visual: Haider was a good adaptation. The original Devdas and also Mr Bhansali’s version were a treat. But the best adaptation for me is Harry Potter...the visuals are so good. And I wish I was a part of the Harry Potter movies. I have grown up watching it. I used wait for the movie to come out every year. Given a chance I would love to play Harry Potter or even Hermione would do. I also loved the television adaption of Malgudi Days.

Read this: I would recommend everyone to read the Gita. I also want to read the Bible and the Quran...I think these are the three most important books.

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