Kishore Bhimani’s The Accidental Godman explores the intriguing world of love, politics and godmen. The second novel by this media personality comes after a long gap of 23 years. Slated as a controversial work, the author set the plot in a chaotic, urban 2027, and generously draws from real-life spiritual gurus. He spoke to Shutapa Paul on why he believes it will connect with readers.
Your first fiction, The Cocktail Insurgency, came out in 1989. Why the long wait?
I was involved in a lot of things — as a journalist, travelling to South Africa, etc. Around 2000, it struck me that I must write. I was enjoying the good life when I realised it was unproductive. Writing is work. After a good day’s writing, I sleep well. So around 2005-’06, I decided to write The Accidental Godman. It took me about 41/2 years. In between, I also wrote two cricket-books.
Tell us about Godman. Why will readers connect with it?
The Accidental Godman is about religion, politics and personal relationships. The style is frank and uninhibited, and I’m sure it’ll be talked about. There could be criticism, because while I treat any human relationship with dignity, I do deal with them.
Set in the Naxal era, Insurgency dealt with sex; so does Godman. Is it the main theme of your work?
We’re a country that produced Khajuraho, Konark, Kamasutra. Mahabharata doesn’t have a single heterosexual relationship. In fact, a third of my book is based on it. This is our Hindu culture and I want people to be aware of it; and what the Brahmanical middle ages suppressed. I’ve explored the pure man-woman relationship.
Godman also explores the sordid world of ashrams through an alpha-male guru. Research?
I interviewed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in my early years as a scribe in Kolkata. Each of my family and friends had a godman/woman they followed. I read the Atharva Veda, but mostly my research is based on my life and experiences.
What of the link between politics and godmen.
Prominent politicians have been associated with godmen — good or bad. To me it’s a good story. I’ve mentioned real-life ones like Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anandamayi Ma, Chandraswami in the book.
It’s set in 2027 when the world is facing chaos. Is that where we’re going?
I’ve mentioned in my book, and I know I’ll be criticised, but Sanjay Gandhi did two things right — birth control and discipline. I thought his ideas shouldn’t die. He did a lot of wrong, but his ideas were right, and, had they been followed, India would have been a tiger economy. We’re overtaking China in population instead.
Which is better — writing on cricket or fiction?
I won’t undermine cricket because I’m what I’m because of it. But today, Godman gives me more satisfaction than cricket, because it’s creative. Cricket is descriptive and lyrical, not creative.