Ashok Kumar Banker, a versatile author and screenwriter hailing from Mumbai, India, has left an indelible mark on the literary world through his diverse range of writings. His journey as a writer has encompassed crime thrillers, essays, literary criticism, fiction, and enchanting mythological retellings. Banker's captivating narratives and storytelling prowess have earned him acclaim and recognition worldwide. In this article, we delve into the life and works of Ashok Banker, exploring his contribution to literature and the global appeal of his stories.
Banker's literary journey began in his formative years, nurtured by the support and encouragement of his grandmother, May Agnes Smith. Raised by his grandmother and her husband, an Indian Christian from Goa, Banker's early years were instrumental in shaping his creative spirit. At the age of 15, he self-published his first book, "Ashes in the Dust of Time," a collection of poetry, with financial assistance from his grandmother.
Before gaining prominence as an author, Ashok Banker ventured into the realm of journalism. He worked as a freelance journalist and columnist, contributing to publications such as "The Times of India" and "Outlook" magazine. His work extended beyond reporting, as he became a notable essayist, literary critic, and reviewer, providing valuable insights into contemporary Indian literature.
Banker's literary contributions transcend a single genre. His novel "Vertigo," published in 1992, garnered praise from critics and readers alike, including Dom Moraes. This literary achievement marked the beginning of a multifaceted career, exploring various genres with creativity and flair.
Ashok Banker's versatility extends to the realm of crime fiction, where he has made his mark with gripping narratives. His series "Kali Rising" is a contemporary and radical feminist thriller series, featuring a cast of strong, female protagonists. The first book in this series, "Blood Red Sari," was launched to critical acclaim at the Tata Literature Live! literary festival in Mumbai in 2012.
Banker's creative canvas expands further with forays into science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. His work "Gods of War," released by Penguin in 2009, demonstrates his versatility as an author, taking readers on imaginative journeys through these genres.
Within Banker's extensive body of work, three novels stand out, featuring autobiographical elements closely related to his life. "Vertigo" delves into the struggles of a man seeking success in career and personal life in Bombay. "Byculla Boy" takes its name from the Mumbai suburb where Banker and his mother grew up. Lastly, "Beautiful Ugly" serves as a heartfelt tribute to his mother.
Ashok Banker's claim to fame is undoubtedly his retelling of Indian mythological epics. His "Ramayana Series," an eight-volume masterpiece, gained international acclaim and marked the genesis of a burgeoning mythology genre. These retellings of the ancient Sanskrit epic poem continue to captivate readers and shed new light on age-old tales.
Banker's creative brilliance isn't limited to the written word. He has ventured into the world of television as the creator and scriptwriter of "A Mouthful of Sky," India's first English-language television series. Furthermore, his engagement in film extends to Disney UTV's acquisition of the rights to his "Mahabharata Series," with plans to adapt this epic for release in the near future.
Ashok Banker's literary journey is a testament to the boundless potential of a creative mind. With a knack for storytelling that transcends genres, Banker has not only delighted readers but also reimagined Indian mythology for a global audience. His ability to weave engaging narratives and his commitment to literary exploration underscore his status as a renowned and celebrated author in the world of literature. As he continues to expand his "Epic India Library," readers can anticipate more captivating stories that offer fresh perspectives on India's rich literary heritage.