They were both writers, and have been friends for a long time.
They were both writers, and have been friends for a long time. One might imagine it won’t be easy for two writer friends to associate, given they’d have to club different ideas and writing styles to create something together. But then it worked out perfectly for Shinie Antony and Vani Mahesh. When they heard Amar Chitra Katha was going to come out with novels, they thought — why not write together.
And that became A kingdom for his love, a retelling of the old love story of King Udayana and Vasavadatta. “My strength and interest is in mythology and the associated research and Shinie is a great writer. So it just seemed right to combine our efforts for this,” says Vani. They were keen to combine their areas of interest. “To bring an ancient tale to life our way, in our words,” Shinie adds.
It worked out smoothly, there were no differences during the writing process. “Hard to believe this, but it was a perfect union. And, we are both time-bound and committed to work, so the book flowed seamlessly,” Vani says. The main agenda was to have fun with the story, which they did. Says Shinie, “Differences — there were none during the writing of this book. In fact, since we stayed firmly in our own departments, any overlap was only a high-five.”
“When Indian classics are almost vanishing from the reading scene, we thought it will be nice to novelise this old play in a way that is palatable to today’s readers. This is not a retelling per se because we have stuck to the original. We have combined different versions of this story (from Kathasaritsagara, Bhasa’s Sapna Vasavadatta, and Sudraka’s Veena Vasavadatta) and put in our own imagination wherever the story demanded it. We have kept the language easy and laced in levity and humour,” Vani says.
Hopefully, she adds, they will come out with a sequel soon.