Bhima, other fascinating characters and a whole new perspective to the evergreen Mahabharata — Vikas Singh’s latest book Bhima – The man in the shadow is another blockbuster in the fantasy/mythology genre. Rave reviews from some of the ruling stars are testament to this fact. So here’s a power packed conversation with our very own iMelonite Geeta Nair.
Vikas : Bhima has always been my favourite Mahabharata character !
Ever since I was a little boy, I loved Bhima. Maybe also because my grandfather’s name was Bheem Singh. I have vivid memories of my mother making me eat eggs and drink milk by saying that if I did so, I’d grow up big and strong like Bhima. My height is nothing much to write about, so obviously I didn’t have enough eggs and milk!
Jokes apart, I found Bhima’s perspective particularly fascinating. This, remember, was the demi-god who slaughtered all 100 Kaurava brothers, killed Keechak even though it risked blowing the Pandavas’ cover when they were hiding in Matsya, and committed arguably the single most brutal act in the Mahabharata when he ripped open Dushasana’s chest, and used the blood to wash Draupadi’s hair. He did all this for the sake of one woman, and it should be fairly obvious that you have to love someone extremely passionately to commit such actions on her behalf. And yet, there is nothing to suggest that Draupadi reciprocated his feelings in the slightest. Instead, she loved someone else. And Bhima couldn’t do a thing about it, because this someone else (at least in my book) happened to be his own brother, the chivalrous and dashing Arjun. The brother whom Bhima loved dearly, but in whose shadow he was forever fated to live. It’s this love triangle that gives the book an emotional anchor.
Having said that, I think there are many other characters whose perspectives are quite fascinating too, including some of the ones you have mentioned. The Mahabharata becomes a different story every time you deal with someone else’s point of view. So I may not be done with it just yet!
Geeta : Who according to you was more worthy of Bhima’s love, Draupadi or Hidimba?
Vikas : Hidimba is also one of my favourite characters, which I hope comes through in the book. In a way, her relationship with Bhima was a mirror image of his with Draupadi: she loved him deeply but he loved someone else. Bhima realised this, and he could empathise with her. Because he had been deeply hurt by Draupadi on many occasions, he wanted to avoid doing the same with Hidimba. But despite his best intentions, it sometimes became unavoidable. As far as the question of who was more worthy of his love is concerned, there’s a line in the book that goes: “We can’t decide when and with whom to fall in love. All we can do is acknowledge it when it happens.”
Geeta : Give us a sneak peek into the new projects in your pipeline.
Vikas : I’m definitely toying with the idea of doing more books based on characters from the Mahabharata. Right now, though, I’m midway through a project that is based on real-life events, but is being written like a thriller. It should keep me busy for the next few months!