New Delhi: The publishing industry in India underwent a major change over a decade ago, thanks to the Internet, Harry Potter and Chetan Bhagat, says popular writer Devdutt Pattanaik. With over 30 books to his credit, Pattanaik recalls how around 2005-06, he was still a part-time writer when the game for writers changed. Trained in medicine studies, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry and wrote part-time, initially as a hobby which he had developed in college in early 1990s. Noting that writing books back then “couldn’t help you run a family”, he says he worked for a good 15-16 years during which he authored as many as 10 books.
“With time, people started recognising me. Someone suggested I should write full time and that happened only in 2008. Things happened, there were good opportunities,” Pattanaik told PTI in an interview on release of his new book “My Hanuman Chalisa”, published by Rupa Publications.
Asked what made the difference, he says, “Internet made the difference.” “Websites like Flipkart came. It was like a world of books opening up for people. For example, in Bombay, going to a book shop was like going for an expedition. It was difficult finding a quality book shop. One had to travel far… But with the Internet, the book reached your home on a click.
“Second, globally books like the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings attracted people towards the world of magic and enchantment. They were so huge that even we got a shake up from that. “Then, in India, came Chetan Bhagat. The world of reading and writing changed. It was revolutionary! Nowadays some people mock him, but what he has done is huge. People who didn’t read, started reading… so all these opened up doors for me,” he says. However, Pattanaik confesses that he has only read a few pages of the J K Rowling classic and a few excerpts of his “good friend” Bhagat’s paperbounds.
“I tried reading them, but their subjects don’t interest me. I am more into mythology, which I am passionate about and derive please from,” he adds. Asked about his favourite authors, he mentions the names of Vyas (who wrote the Mahabharata), Valmiki (who wrote the Ramayana) and Sukh Muni (the main narrator of the Bhagavata Purana). Pattanaik, who written four books on the Ramayana, says he is “obsessed” with the epic and can write 10 more books on it. “I write for ‘aatm-rati’ (for happiness of the soul). And I want to share this happiness with people,” he adds.