Dr Alok Jadhav

Author Interview

Interviewed By – Sameeksha Manerkar


  1. How do you handle the balance between staying true to history and engaging modern readers with your writing?

While capturing interesting events in history- especially stories of bravery and sacrifice, readers get hooked as soon as the narrative begins. To maintain balance, I have tried my best to get my historical facts right and keep dramatization to necessary minimum.   


  1. What challenges do you face when bringing historical characters to life on the page?

The characters that lived centuries ago must be portrayed in an authentic and historically accurate manner- that’s challenge no.1. ‘Detailed honest research of the time and the people’ is the key. Next challenge I face as a writer is ‘Unveiling events that happened centuries ago (in this case- 350 years ago) so realistically on pages of novel that readers feel transported to that era’.


  1. What kind of research process do you undertake before starting to write about a specific historical era?

It depends on the historical period as well as region where I am taking my readers. Bringing a character to life from 13th century Maharashtra (like Sant Dnyaneshwar) sets me on different research path; whereas if I am writing about a Rajput warrior character fighting under Mughal flag I search differently. Legends passed on for centuries inspire us to put pen on paper but when it comes to actually start my research, Historical documents available is my starting point. Hours spent in libraries with reference books help. Surely internet helps. Only authentic historians and their works guide me. Shakavalis, Karinas, Bakhars (types of chronicles written around Shivaji’s times and later in Peshwa rule) have helped me in case of ‘Prataprao’. There are letters from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s time.  A lot of correspondence from Mughal times (farmaans, Nishans, Parvana) is available. British letters exchanged between Mumbai-Surat-Karwar are also available. You used the word ‘process’ but sometimes it’s just explosion of bits and pieces of information- I just try to be objective and put it in fair perspective as per demand of my novel’s narrative. Writing historical fiction is a big responsibility.        


  1. What drew you to writing historical fiction?

I am born in Maharashtra, India- the glorious land where history took various turns from spirituality to bravery, from foreign invasion to inspiring freedom fight. Inspiring persons from history often attract writers. Every grain of soil in Maharashtra feels proud that a luminary like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj blessed this land. Only an able King like him can inspire a Chief Commander like Prataprao Gujar. No wonder the Chief Commander’s bravery and sacrifice inspired me to choose him as protagonist for my first novel.


  1. How do you approach the portrayal of warfare and conflict in historical settings?

“Yuddhasya katha ramyaah…” (War stories sound intriguing…). Readers look forward to experiencing wargames and politics in historical fictions. My approach has been to try and make them feel the sharp weapons rattling on battlefield . Blood and gore are part of warfare. Battle tactic plans and portraying the actual chaos in battle is a part I love. Just like sorrow, love and happiness in love stories- reader experiences pain and suffering of wars in historical thrillers. Extensive research has gone in to every individual battle recreated in ‘Prataprao…’   


  1. Can you discuss any recurring themes or motifs that appear in your historical work?

I believe that even very strong characters have to fight inner enemies like dilemmas and doubts about their actions. The dark shadow that recurs in Prataprao’s case is just that.

In a very subtle way, we also see respect shown by Prataprao for his dead enemy almost after every battle. ‘Maranantani vairaani…’ (enmity ends with death) is something that every true warrior believes in. 



  1. What role does geography and landscape play in shaping your historical narratives?

It plays a big role. Places and people make each-other. Historical narrative in ‘Prataprao…’ revolves arounds forts and battlefields. A raw ragged quality is thus shared by both characters and events. Having visited many of the forts which are still standing (some in preserved state and some in various grades of ruins), I can vouch that history comes alive in your mind as soon as one steps on these forts. 


  1. Do you have a favourite historical era or figure to write about? If so, what draws you to them?

I don’t have a favourite era as such. The one I have dealt with in this 16TH-17TH Century India- mostly Dakhkhan, Maharashtra. The game of power between Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Swarajya, Mughal throne, and Vijapur Takht was at its peak. Fearless leadership of Shivaji and sacrifices of his commanders have probably drawn me to this era.   


  1. What is your favourite historical books that you would like to recommend historical readers?

I am sure readers have already relished Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” is also a must read. Shivcharitrkar Babasaheb Purandare’s “Raja Shivchhatrapati” (Marathi) has inspired our generation and will continue to inspire many more. Ranjit Desai’s “Radhey” (Marathi) is an illuminating portrayal of ‘Karn’ (character from Mahabharat).


  1. Can you share any upcoming projects or ideas you’re excited about in the realm of historical writing?

I am excited about a novel that connects previous 3 centuries and reveals mysterious happenings along coastline of western India. A narrative that borders on thriller and horror. Let us see how it turns out. 



  1. Finally, can you share any insights into the role that storytelling plays in shaping our understanding of history and connecting us to the past?

Well, as children, we learn our history through school syllabus. As we grow up, reading well researched novels can take us deeper in history. Reading and reflecting about these real people from different era may help us understand their actions. There is always something to learn from History.












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