Guftagoo feels privileged to have crossed paths with the talented writer Prakash Guru, who’s a pharmacist by education and a banker by profession. Interesting already, isn’t it? The words ‘Prakash’ and ‘Guru’ literally means light and master respectively. And just like his name, Guru has the light of knowledge and motivation in him, which is not only the source of his beautiful writings but his excellent academic and professional records also.
However, Guftagoo is going to focus primarily on his journey as a writer. Guru’s work has got published in three books –‘Love stories around us – an anthology,’ ‘Friendship – Bonds Beyond time’ and ‘LifeNama- a poetic journey.’ There are two more of his books that are going to be published soon. He’s also got his own blog by the name of ‘tropesofmyimagination.
I thank Guru for being a part of Guftagoo and taking out time to talk to us. Guftagoo wishes Guru new heights and more success. Following is the conversation wherein Guru shares his experiences, thoughts and insights.
NaSa: Guru, just like the famous Bollywood love triangles, there are three diverse but important elements of your life – your education, your job profile and your passion. And these three are in sharp contrast with each other. You are a Gold Medalist in Masters in Pharmacy, work as an Assistant Manager at Canara Bank and write books. First of all I would like to ask how did the bank manager job happen after masters in Pharmacy?
Guru: Ha Ha!! First of all, I sincerely thank Guftagoo for giving me this opportunity to interact at a larger platform. It was summer of 2013, when a timid little guy from Odisha worked hard in Mumbai to make a mark in his professional field, promises were made to him looking at his calibre and excellence in academics, but lesser did he know that promises from the higher hierarchy was just vanity waiting to engulf his determination and belief, that he could achieve acme in his professional field in which he was to be awarded a Gold medal, so it happened that the field he personally chose backstabbed him. Pharmacy in India is a field of struggle, and if at all you push yourself and face the struggle and fight it on the face there is no surety that you will land safe and sound. So, with heads down he headed home. His mother, she knows it all, persuaded him to prepare for banks, with no interest at all he took a chance and in a month he cleared the Indian banking personnel selection exams for probationary officers from amongst approximately 10 lac candidates and thus he landed in Canara Bank. Well was it luck or talent? That’s a hard question to answer! That timid little guy was me.
NaSa: By the way, we just got a snapshot of your story-telling skills. 🙂 Now tell us how did writing happen?
Guru: I was very poor at English when I was in school, I just didn’t get anything neither the head nor the tail. It was then I met a wonderful person, an inspiring and supporting mentor Late Dillip Sir (yes he is no more, succumbed at a very young age, I will miss you sir till eternity), it was he who brought about a change and gradually I developed a likeness towards this incredibly beautiful language, the best part was he not only taught me/us the academic syllabus but also vocabulary which was not at all included in our syllabus, learning new words is as fascinating as unravelling a mystery. Writing happened when I met Manas Nayak (Mr. Bay Leaf) another wonderful and inspiring mentor and yes because of Chetan Bhagat, no matter how much he is being criticized but people cannot deny the fact that he was the reason for the inception, of Indian youths starting to read novels and writing them too.
NaSa: Who would believe that you were bad at English. It’s just like Sonam Kapoor was once a overweight girl :). But you seem to be a go getter. Did pharmacy, won gold medal; appeared for bank exams, became assistant manager; started writing and got your three books published. Where do you draw all that zeal and inspiration from??
Guru: The series of events did not happen the way it is seen by all. I started to work as freelancer at an online based magazine, named Shades- Different colours founded by Sachin Shresta, when I was in my Bachelor’s degree. It was by the youth’s, for the youth’s kind of magazine. My articles were noticed by people, it inspired me to write more and more, poetries and stories but all good things have an ephemeral existence and thus it blurred in the eyes of people. But effort and determination and simply not giving up in the field of artistic work are the key things to sustain, and so clinging on to it, finally we were able to convert the small online magazine to a traditional publication house and successfully have published two anthologies namely “Love Stories around us- an anthology” and “Friendship- Bonds beyond time” in which my stories “A broken heart meets a broken girl” and “The Pursuit” respectively has been published. A solo novel “Miss to Mrs. Agarwal” by Varsha Bansal is about to be launched under the banner of Shades Publications very soon and a third anthology “Colors-shades of life” is also on the verge to be published. To be a banker from a pharmacist was by a chance that I took and that paid off well and good. I am just a regular next door guy; I draw inspiration and zeal from life, people, family and of course movies and episodes.
NaSa Did you face any struggle in the publication of your books?? Tell us about the story of publication of your three books. Every budding writer aspires for writing a book someday and you have already got three published. I am sure your story will not only motivate amateur writers but anyone who reads this conversation.
Guru. I have already stated the struggle in the previous question. To elaborate the journey from a small online based magazine to a traditional publication house, it all started when Sachin called me and said it was time to shut down the online magazine, shades to be closed was nostalgic and painful, a place where your heart spoke out was getting closed, but he said I am taking a chance to make it a publication house and so he arranged a competition, where in budding authors across India were given a chance to write love stories from which 25 stories were to be selected and in the process edited and published as an anthology. As expected we didn’t get a huge response, since nobody trusted a then tyro publication house with their literary work, but working hard we got sufficient stories, it was at that point of time when we got in touch with Saravana Kumar Murugan, Senior software Engineer at Hamburg, Germany, photographer and a passionate writer as he had participated in the story. It was he who edited the stories and we found our wonderful official editor all the way from Germany. It was now time for funds, as we were mere youths, having no job and not from a wealthy family to contribute to our dreams, after all money matters but we pledged to get it out as a traditional publication. It was hard, time passed by, we are thankful to our beautiful authors who supported us with patience, finally we managed enough funds and dreams were realized. It was a beautiful moment expressed only by feelings when Sachin and I saw our books trimmed on our own eyes!!
NaSa. Love, life and friendship are the topics that are talked about so much everywhere and every person has his/her own angle to look at these. What your viewpoints about these topics?
Guru:“Love” the definitions that I still very vividly memorize from the value education book from my school days is:
- It’s a magic wand that weaves two unknowns.
- Love is like an oasis in a dessert where people irrespective of age, caste, creed, sex, and colour have once halted in their life and drunk the sweet water. After all, we all can find Love stories around us.
Life has always been a great teacher and mentor for me. It is undeniably the most beautiful gift that has been gifted to the humans. The twists, the turns, the zig zags, and the pace it’s all so exciting.
Friendship, well, it is a million little things, indeed Friendship– is a bond beyond time.
NaSa. Unlike your qualification, profession and profession, the themes of your three books are in complete harmony – love, life and friendship. Why did you choose these subjects?
Guru: Love, life and friendship are there better feelings and subjects than this? Isn’t the world full of crime, war and racism? I chose these subjects in order to instill the very feeling that the world hasn’t ended moreover my target readers are youths and perhaps they are better with these subjects than the others.
NaSa. Did you have your target audience in mind when you chose your topics and started writing?
Guru:. To be frank “No.” I just wanted to write. It started as a way of my catharsis and then I was going. Definitely my stories target the youths but I have no problem in bringing in the critics. Anyone and everyone are more than welcome to give me the harshest of their reviews albeit I shall prioritize my reader’s reviews more than a critic.
NaSa. Does your family have any other writer or you are the only one?
Guru. Oh! My family, well my little brother is a photographer; his work goes along with this interview, as the display picture in this interview is his work. My father sometimes writes in Odia and another interesting fact is that the first photograph studio in the locality where I reside (Jajpur Road, Odisha) was owned by our family, so perhaps here is the genetic coincidence.
NaSa. Well, then must say both of you brothers are talented in your individual spheres; the photograph has a professional finish. Coming back, how do you manage to write so much with a full-time job? What’s mantra of your time management?
Guru: I have just contributed to two poetry anthologies while in job, so it is less, not too much. I am happy actually, because I think one should not rush in writing a story or a poem and everything needs a proper planning and execution, like for the time being I am a bit more concerned about my personal carrier, so that I can excel in the banking profession. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten storytelling; one should actually be on hiatus to come up once again fresh and good.
NaSa. Who are the publishers of your books? It would be great if you put some light on your journey with them.
Guru: Love stories around us- Shades Publications.
Friendship- Bonds beyond time- Shades Publications.
LifeNama- Serene Publishers.
Shades Publications is basically a traditional publication house and considers a book if it’s promising and my journey with it has already been stated.
I was introduced to Serene Publisher by Pamela Bose (indeed a talented writer), another writer friend. My poem “The Solivagant” was published in the book, ‘LifeNama,’ amongst the works of many talented writers.
NaSa. How much time did one book consume from start to finish and how much further time did publishers take?
Guru. For the time being, I haven’t written a complete book, but yes writing a single story is actually a difficult job, that too when you are aware that it is going to be a tough competition as writers across India are going to participate in it and then there are editors. The most difficult part is to get a plot for the theme stated in the contest, and then comes to justify it by your storytelling ability and last but not the least comes justifying the whole scenario by English language.
NaSa. If our readers want to order your books, where should place order?
NaSa: What do you think is more apt – writing is a skill or writing is an art? And why?
Guru: Perhaps writing is a skill and storytelling is an art. An art of redemption, an art where in the voiceless speaks and the blind vividly perceives.
NaSa: What is the mantra of your life?
Guru: Ha Ha !! I am still not aware of it, but perhaps to keep breathing.
NaSa: What kind of a country do you think we’re for writers in terms of right to expression?
Guru. Not as bad as it is being portrayed.
NaSa. You have three other books that are on the verge of publication – ‘Men- an anthology’, ‘Colors- Shades of life” and “The Red Balloons.’ Sounds interesting. Can you tell us briefly about them in brief?
Guru. “Men- an anthology” as the name suggests is ‘for the men’ kind of anthology. My Story- “The Reckoning: Requiem for a wish” is about the plight of men in the name of women empowerment and the misinterpretation of women empowerment. My story is justified by facts taken out from reliable sources.
“Colors-Shades of life” is an anthology that speaks about various emotions in life. My story, “That Girl with a broom” is inspired from true events.
“The Red Balloons” is a love-poetry anthology edited and published by Carlos Luis, another very talented writer. It is about love poems; my poem “My trifle love” speaks about a one-sided love story.
NaSa. What would be your dream accomplishment?
Guru. My dream accomplishment would be a requiem that the world has never seen before.
NaSa. Movies had been made on books and did well. Do you think a book can be written on a movie? Why or why not?
Guru: On a single movie, I think it wouldn’t be appropriate since the story has already been written by the script writer and told by the director.
NaSa. Tell us about your favourites now.
- Favorite writers- I am a starter and haven’t read plenty of books but I have loved Robin Sharma and Richard Flanagan.
- Favorite books- ‘The narrow road to the deep north’ and ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari.’ Currently I am reading Tarek Fatah’s Chasing a Mirage: The tragic illusion of an Islamic State and I am loving it.
- Favorite movies- There are many yet few of them are, The Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump, Life is beautiful, it’s a wonderful life etc.
- Favorite cuisines- Nonveg- Chicken ; Veg- Mushroom salt and pepper.
- Favorite colors- Black, blue and white.
- Favorite tourist destinations- Haven’t had the chance to go to many places. I liked Matheran a small hill station in the outskirts of Mumbai.