Shazi Zaman talks about his novel, Akbar with Ajmer’s lit lovers

Senior journalist and author, Shazi Zaman reached the holy city, Ajmer on Friday and addressed the city’s literature lovers. Zaman was in the city to be a part of a session at Kalam organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with We Care and Shree Cement held at Hotel Mansingh Palace. The author was thrilled to see the interest of people in the literature and how eager they were to know more about his novel, Akbar.
The author shares a deep connection with the city and has been coming here for years. “My grandparents used to come here to visit Dargah Sharif, and even I have been coming here for many years now. This time I have come here after a few years and I will be heading to Dargah after the session to seek blessings of the almighty,” revealed Zaman. The author got candid with The City Column, here are the excerpts from the interview.

  • What made you choose Akbar?

In Mughal history, I couldn’t find any emperor as complex as Akbar and whose work was as monumental as of him. Whatever he tried to do, he succeeded at an epic scale. While being an emperor or even when you look at him as a normal human, he was a troubled soul. You find him troubled by some very-very deep deep issues and thoughts, which has troubled mankind across history.

What Really hooked me is I think his ability to bring diverse people to one platform. And his ability to try and find a meeting point in various streams of thought.

  • When you decided that you want to write a novel on Akbar?

The Idea gradually grew, and as I learned more and more about his personality, especially about his troubled and sensitive mind. An emperor, who was sensitive and troubled that really intrigued me. It evoked my curiosity and that’s when I decided that I will not rest until I write it.

  • You researched for 20 year for this novel?

20-years of conscious efforts to know more about Akbar. Unconsciously I had been reading a lot about Akbar because I am a student of history and I am a history buff. So, even after being a journalist, I have kept in touch with history. I read a lot, I can say safely that I have read almost all the source material available. I have read all the books written on Akbar in his time.

I visited a lot many places in India, where I could find something about Akbar. I visited many museums which house the paintings that he commissioned. I also had access to the information that was available in Museums in London since I lived there. I tried my best to access as many of his works commissioned by him or works by him, wherever they in India or across the globe.

  • You stayed away from TV, films and media during your research?

Being from media industry, you cannot really stay away from it. But I have made a conscious effort to not to see any soap operas or film made on Akbar. But I had already seen Mughal-e-Azam by that time and hats off to K Asif and his casting abilities, Prithvi Raj Kapoor actually looked like Akbar. If you see miniatures of emperor Akbar, it bears a striking resemblance to Prithvi Raj Kapoor. But after it, I did not watch anything made on Akbar because I didn’t want it to influence how I see Akbar.

  • While writing about it, weren’t you scared of controversies?

When you write something, be it a love story or about Akbar you make yourself vulnerable. So it’s obviously open to attack, and that is a part of the game.

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