Virat Vilas Pawar is passionate about building a whole universe of superhero based on mythology. In this interview, he talks about his second novel and how India should take inspiration from the success of DC and Marvel.
Virat Vilas Pawar’s new novel Vidyadhara & The Universe of Magic opens up new possibilities for a superhero universe based on Indian cultural influences. The novel is set in a modern world that consists of wizards, werewolves, vampires, monsters, deities and gods. In his first novel titled Heroes of Wars, he had presented a sci-fi take on the Mahabharat. In an endeavor to diversify his storytelling repertoire, Virat is currently writing three more stories targeted at OTT platforms.
Here Pawar talks about his latest novel, elaborates on the scope of science fiction in Indian literature, the global craze for superhero-based stories, and the creative scope of building India’s very own superhero universe.
Q1. Tell us about your new novel. How did you conceive it?
I am a huge sci-fi superhero buff. I have been following superhero entertainment since I was a child and that’s when I decided to create my own superhero universe based out of India. Vidyadhara & The Universe of Magic is a small stone in the huge road I am building. I am building a universe and it has multiple elements, my first novel dealt with time travel and this one deals with magic and entities. When I thought of adding this particular element, I came up with the idea of having a man who knows magic, which is inspired from ancient Indian history.
Q2. Your first novel Heroes of Wars has been described as a sci-fi version of the Mahabharat. How do you look at the scope of science fiction in Indian literature?
Sci-fi is not just entertainment, it’s more than that. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a school, it’s a different world. A lot of kids these days are learning essential elements from anime. Including sci-fi will only make it interesting for the kids, who sometimes might find history a little boring. This does not re-write the history but this will actually make it more appealing to the newer generation.
Q3. Over the last decade or so, we have seen how superhero films have taken the world by storm and yet not many attempts have been made by Indian filmmakers to capitalise on this. Where do you think we are lacking?
Well, the Indian audience has been conditioned to like drama, romance and masala. So anything new is not much welcomed. Talking about superhero movies, Indian cinema did try with films like Krrish and Flying Jatt. However, the attempt didn’t work well, because of the lack of VFX and strong storyline. Indian cinema needs to understand the crux of superhero films. The recent Netflix film Minnal Murali has taken the internet by storm. The beautiful execution, gripping storyline, minimal and believable VFX have resulted it in being the best Indian superhero film. This is what is needed—an honest attempt at writing superhero films, no drama, no unnecessary romance, no forced item songs.
Q4. Vidyadhara… opens up new possibilities for a superhero universe based on Indian cultural influences. What are your views on the creative scope of building India’s very own superhero universe?
That’s the whole aim, to build a superhero universe. We are blessed with beautiful ancient history and I believe, Indians can very well vibe if it’s something they are well versed with. The Indian creators must come together, pour in whatever they have and make this happen. My goal is simple, take bits and piece from Indian mythology, cover it with sci-fi, add as much originality one can add and present it honestly to the people. Let them love it or hate it.
Q5. How do you choose the subjects for your novels? Also, tell us about your influences and inspirations.
Well, there are several elements in sci-fi like time travel, aliens, deities, superhumans, advance technology, etc. The topics are already widely explored by DC and Marvel. All I need to do is think in the same direction while maintaining originality. The goal is to include all the elements and form a proper universe.
Q6. How has the pandemic affected you, personally as well as professionally? With the continuing uncertainty of Covid-19, what according to you is the way forward?
My first novel came out in October 2019 and just in few months there was the first lockdown. It did affect my sales a lot but those who wanted to buy did buy my novel. I decided to utilise the time and wrote Vidyadhara & The Universe of Magic. However, the pandemic has made a major dent on the economy, so people think twice on spending anything that is not essential and thus it has affected a lot of artists. But that doesn’t mean we will stop, we keep trying.
Q7. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
Well, a lot is going on right now, I am currently writing three more stories, but this time we are planning to pitch it to OTT platforms. The difficulty is not in making it, the difficulty is in making it edible for the audience so that it doesn’t get too heavy for them. We want the audience happy, we want them to welcome superhero genre, and to do that we need to give something they haven’t gotten yet.