Actor, writer and director Karan Razdan who works for Bollywood is one of the creative talent who voted for Goa as part-home. He is famous for direct films with controversial themes like Girlfriend (2004), Hawas (2004), Souten: The Other Woman (2006) and also wrote and directed the hit TV series of the mid-1980s Rajani.
He talks with FREDERICK NORONHA about his new book Tantra and Tantrika, which could get a Goa release too soon.
Q: Your first book, so how difficult and challenging was it? Why?
It was difficult. I am so used to writing screenplays. A two hour screenplay is easier to reign in, control… But a book is a totally different ball game. It’s too vast and it takes time to get a grip over it. My editor Shubha Saha was a big help. She is a journalist and a realist. She would chop down some chapters and I would fight and put some of it back again. It was tough but a very fascinating process.
Q: Does your reputation as a scriptwriter, etc help or hinder being an author?
Obviously it helped. When I was in college and wrote short stories, I would send it to all the leading newspapers. But they would all come back with a rejection slip. So… yes, now that I am a established writer and director, getting a publisher was the easiest part. Shray Jain, my publisher was very supportive.
Q: How would you describe the book briefly, without a plot-spoiler?
It is highly dramatic. When you are telling a story of Tantra it has to be very intense. After all Tantra originated from Lord Shiva. And my characters of Megha, the prostitute who gets enlightened, Yogi Mahendranath, the young Tantrik, and Susan, a seeker who travels from England to India, all three are very intense characters. They are high strung and fight a long battle to achieve their goals.
Q: Does this keep abrest with your “controversial themes” in films?
Of course a tale of Tantra is never complete without a dash of eroticism. Because in Tantra, sex is an instrument to attain Nirvana. So you can call the book controversial.
Q: “Erotic yet sensitive”, what does that mean?
A prostitute’s tale is bound to be erotic, but the way I have portrayed her pain it is sensitive. In fact more than sensitive. The love stories which are entwined in the narrative are sensitive. One of my friends was in tears while reading the book. I think the book is a must read for women.
Q: How long have you been working on this?
The research on Tantra took eleven years, I was not researching continuously, but when free from my movies. Writing the novel took a year of continuos writing and editing.
Q: How did the idea come up? Did real-life give the idea?
The idea is such a paradox. ‘A flesh worker becomes enlightened.’ It is not from real life, but when I went to Varanasi to research on my book, everyone thought that it was a real life case that I had picked…. so I would say that it has a ring of truth to it. That is always important for me. My idea having a ring of truth. Because then the reader or a viewer can easily get involved in the protagonist’s story.
Q: You mention practising Buddhism for a decade… did it influence the story?
A branch of Buddhism, Vajrayana is Buddhist tantra, but it only gets mentioned a couple of times in the book. My tantra originates from Lord Shiva. But Buddha plays a very important role in the book. His words and thoughts appear at five crucial juncture in the book. They endorse what I am trying to portray. That I found them, is a miracle. They strengthen the readers faith in the story. Very few have known the universe inside out as Buddha did. More than a philosopher, I feel he is a scientist. For him to have spoken about the supernatural powers that man can attain through meditation and tantra is amazing. I feel blessed following his path.
Q: Do you see this working itself into film, in some way?
Yes. A visually stunning film can be made out of the book. And as I said there is intense drama and an epic love story in the book.
Q: What projects are you currently working on, in writing terms?
I have finished writing a screenplay. It’s a biopic. I am planning to make a film on the legendary actress Meena Kumari.
Q: Of all your films, teleserials and many roles, which do you cherish most?
I liked the screenplay of my film Girlfriend. I think I wrote it well. The film was controversial but a hit. Then there was an Ajay Devgan film I wrote. Actually two of them, Dilwale and Diljale. I like their screenplays. They were intense love stories. They went on to become huge hits.