Monday, October 4, 2010

The Kaal Trilogy - Book I (Jaal - The Web)

I knew that there's a world where people blog, but had never quite believed I'd ever get so tech-savvy as to actually create one myself! I guess that's what something giddily, amazingly wonderful like signing the contract with a Publisher like Picador for your first book does to you!! Mita Kapoor of Siyahi - the super-efficient and super-cool literary agency that represents me - told me rather sternly that I'd better get down to blogging urgently, since the release of the book is barely six months away, and since I've always benefited from following her strictures, I meekly agreed. This is only the first, introductory blog; more delicious teasers will follow.

Picador and I decided to call it the Time Trilogy - until we realised that other similar-sounding books are also on the prowl in the market! So we changed our mind and decided to go for something more exotic, and settled on calling the series 'The Kaal Trilogy'. What would be coming out in January 2011 is the First Book of the series. The book's in English, but since the ethos, philosophy and setting is completely Indian, I'd given it the working title of 'Kaal-Jaal', which those of you who know a bit of Sanskrit/Hindi would rightly translate as 'The Web of Time'. (And those of you who don't have now had it translated for you!). The Picador Editor and I both unsuccessfully racked our brains to find something equally zingy and evocative in English, but the story would accept no other name. We compromised, therefore, on "Jaal - The Web"; the book hummed and hawed and finally agreed, graciously enough, to accept the new name.

So what's the book about? Well, to begin with, it's nothing like anything any of you'd have ever read. In fact, to tell you the truth, it's nothing like anything I had imagined producing when I started on the writing, several years ago. Several years, you ask? Well, when you are writing 500 A-4 pages of a startlingly original tale set in a world that you create as you go along, it can't really be done in a day - or even a year. The blurb goes something like this -

“Jaal - The Web”, which could be described as a Heroic Epic, is the first Book of a Trilogy set in an imagined world akin to ours and reminiscent of India in the immediate post-Vedic Era. Each Book of the Trilogy outlines a different phase in the highly unusual life of the main protagonist, Arihant, visualized by the Universe as both Taarak - The Saviour, and Vinaashak - The Destroyer. The first Book starts with Arihant’s birth and follows, through the first 18 years of his existence, the process of his growth not just as a human being but also as a Divine Machine - the Possibility evolving from a long line of Probabilities. Brought into existence by the Universe for a specific purpose, he shoulders an awesome Responsibility, the easier part of which is to destroy Aushij, the Lord of Maya - Cosmic Illusion. Tricked into a Prison of Dreams by His Siblings, the Deceived God has awaited, through the centuries, the triggering of His Awakening by the coming of a worthy Antagonist….

Arihant has the Universal appeal of the Super Hero who, even as he grows to fit the Prophesy of his incredible Destiny, never outgrows the emotional vulnerability of his humanity, his sense of perspective - and his sense of humour. This special quality is what makes the reader identify with him at the deepest level, generating the conviction that we could all be like him if we tried hard enough. Arihant appeals to the invincible spirit in all of us, for he shares with us his strength and gives us the gift of hope and dignity to face the vicissitudes of life. This is what makes the book an absorbing, enthralling read.

The reader is taken on a fascinating journey along with Arihant, who is confronted, as the Book progresses, not only with enemies both temporal and Mayavi; he must also struggle and come to terms with the dizzying, often shocking, unfolding of his own selfhood, purpose and potential. As he goes through his transformation and growth, he learns to conquer the foes that lie in wait for him both within and without. Until he faces the penultimate challenge that the Lord of Illusions has created for him - a battle with his own dark alter-ego, in which he must defeat himself and kill what is dearest to him. Only in his own death can he find the ultimate transformation necessary to take on the Great Asura Aushij."

Everyone who has read the book - from the Siyahi team to the people at Picador, from friends who've been given a sneak-peek into the pages of this special world to close family who've traveled the distance with me every step of the way - has fallen head-over-heels in love with Arihant! When you read my next post, you'll figure out why, since I plan to give you a pen-picture of the man designed to destroy a God - a man who evolves into something more than human and yet, in some ways, less so... So watch out for the next post within a week!