Ruskin Bond. The name itself is enough for most of us to bring back all the childhood memories. His books are something almost all of us have grown up reading. The author whose stories and poems have accompanied all of us says he had a rather lonely childhood himself; his books were his only companions. May be that's why he could write so beautifully and give us unforgettable stories and memories for life.
The author recently spoke to IBNLive about his writings, his love for India and a lot more. Here are the excerpts from the conversation.
Q: In your latest book 'Maharani' you say India has a lot of romance in it. How would you describe your 'Bond' with India?
Ruskin Bond: My bond with India goes back to my boyhood, to my growing up in Doon Valley, the friendships I made. In fact I had to leave India at a very young age. I left India when I was 16-17. I was sent to England. I used to miss India terribly, the friends I made and the bonds I had made. With much difficulty I came back to India and then I was forced to go back, but I managed to be here. That's how strong my bond is with India.
I was always inclined toward literature and reading, and there's a great deal of romance in India's past. No matter what one says one cannot ignore that aspect. For me, that romance is still integrally present in India, in its cities, villages, the forests and valleys - just about everywhere. The tremendous variety of people and landscape present, romance is present everywhere.
Q: Most of your stories are built around strong characters. What is more important to you - plot or the characters?
Ruskin Bond: I think characters build the story. For me characters are always more important. If you etch the characters interestingly, the narrative is always going to be interesting. Colourful characters will always build up interesting stories, I have never really bothered about building intricate plots. If my character lives an interesting life, it will always end up having a great story. So for me building a character always remains the more important aspect.
Q: You include yourself as a part of your narratives. Is that something you do to make it more interesting for the reader?
Ruskin Bond: It becomes interesting for the reader to read the story and it becomes easier for me to tell my story if I am either a part of it or I am narrating it. Many writers have done that over the years. I either keep myself as the central character or someone who is a part of the story. It just adds to the authenticity of the story. Being a part of the story helps in making it more realistic for the reader. It's just a way of narration that appeals to me greatly.
Q: Your love for nature comes across in almost all your writings. Would you want to talk about that?
Ruskin Bond: I have been sitting on top of these hills, well, almost for a century now. Naturally, a writer always writes best about the place he knows best. For me it has been the hills and the small towns and villages close by. The details of the nature and the surrounding around me comes to me naturally while writing as I have been around and I understand all these places so well. The truth is that you can't really take away the natural surroundings from any individual, it always accompanies along with everything you do. And similarly my writings reflect my surroundings.
Q: Do you think the celluloid versions have done justice to your stories?
Ruskin Bond: Many of my stories have been adapted into films, 'The Flight of Pigeons' was adapted for Shyam Benegal's 'Junoon', 'The Blue Umbrella' became a Vishal Bhardwaj movie and 'Susanna's Seven Husbands' was adapted for 'Saat Khoon Maaf'. The truth is that sometimes the transformation from one medium to another makes all the difference. A few things get lost in the whole process.
Like for 'Saat Khoon Maaf' from a short story it became a longer version and then a film script. So a few things got lost, but the direction and execution of the film was excellent. For that matter even 'Blue Umbrella' was a very lyrical adaptation of my story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I never write a story with a film in mind, if something comes along later, then it's most welcome.
Q: Do you think any contemporary book can become a 'classic' (as we call them)?
Ruskin Bond: It's hard to say that. We absolutely cannot judge a book according them being 'bestsellers' or any other similar meter. We must and like in the past as well wait for a good amount of time to pass to realise their value and permanency, and then call them classics. Obviously when an author writes something he or she is aiming for immortality, but the harsh truth is that it's possible that it will vanish from everyone's memory in no time.
Q: Your views on the current literary scene in India.
Ruskin Bond: The literary scene has changed drastically in India. Writers and publishing - both have evolved for better now. It's a very healthy trend. People are also buying a lot more books now a days, and hopefully reading them too. The publishing scene in fact has changed drastically and for better.
Q:Do you think with the help of blogs and other similar platforms, everybody gets to explore the writer in them?
Ruskin Bond: With current trend of blogging and "twittering" everybody writes a bit. It's wonderful that everyone gets to explore the writer in them but that doesn't necessarily make them a writer. One needs to possess a certain skill set to take up writing professionally. One should be a natural story teller. Creative writing is something one is born with. Blogs particularly I feel have become a public diary.
Title: Maharani; Author: Ruskin Bond; Publisher: Penguin India; Genre: Fiction; Pages: 180