Reviving Devdas: A Fresh Take on Classic Characters in Modern Delhi

Hey everyone, I am back this week again with a super interesting interview with an author Aayush Gupta, he is an author-screenwriter who oscillates between Delhi and Mumbai depending upon the medium he’s working on at the moment. His debut novel TOPPERS, a YA political thriller, was published by Penguin Random House India in 2016. MY NAME IS NOT DEVDAS is his second novel whhich I had read and reviewed too is a darkly subversive contemporary retelling of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas.

Have you ever thought about giving a classic story a cool modern makeover? Well, that’s exactly what me and Aayush are chatting about in this super interesting convo. They’re diving into ‘My Name Is Not Devdas,’ a book that puts old characters in new situations, like moving from a black and white movie to a colorful comic book. The story happens in college in Delhi, and it’s all mixed up with how we live in the digital age. So, get comfy and let’s hear how Aayush mixes old stuff with new vibes.

Mili: Your book ‘My Name Is Not Devdas’ presents a contemporary twist on Sarat Chandra’s classic tragedy. What inspired you to reimagine the iconic characters of Devdas, Paro, and Chandramukhi in a modern, ideologically charged setting within Delhi’s college campuses? Also, The Information Age plays a significant role in your narrative. How does this era of strong convictions and belief systems impact the characters’; lives and choices?

Aayush: The idea behind writing this book was to take characters we think we know, and turn them into representatives of the times we live in. Because once you change the setting of the story from 1917 to 2017, their truth, aspirations, identities, and battles will be affected by it. And what’s a better setting than Delhi’s college campuses, a place that’s supposed to encourage debate and an exchange of ideas.

It adds depth and tension because it engenders conflict. Romantic relationships were never free of social constructs, but in our times, where young people are more informed or misinformed – depending upon how you want to look at it – their own beliefs, and understanding of right and wrong, is becoming more relevant to their choice of a romantic partner.

Mili: The characters in your adaptation seem to reflect distinct ideologies, such as woke Marxism and entrepreneurial capitalism. How did you approach weaving these ideological elements into the characters’; personalities and motivations?

Aayush: The ideologies are secondary. The first thing to go with when searching for a character is their need. Devdas, abandoned by his own mother, absolutely needs the love of a woman. Paro, who’s never owned anything, absolutely needs to build something of her own.

Chandramukhi, who has seen her life destroyed by violent clashes between people, only wants to make it to the next day. The ideologies come from the characters, not the other way around.

Mili: While drawing inspiration from the classic tale, you have given your characters a new context and challenges. How did you balance staying true to the essence of the original story while infusing it with fresh perspectives?

Aayush: I am not sure if I’ve managed the balance. I think whenever at a crossroads, I’ve erred on the side of telling my story, rather than retelling Sharat Chandra’s Devdas. Lovers of his classic might find themselves disappointed if they’re looking for the exact same story in a modern context. This story and its characters are different, because they exist in a different world.

Mili: You are a screen writer, what differences did you explore while writing the book, I mean between screen writing and book? Your first novel was placed on political backdrop and second novel also has a political theme; you have a penchant adoption political theme. Can you elaborate why so much love for politics 😀 I mean what attracts you?

Aayush: I enjoy writing both, but I outline a lot more when it comes to a screenplay – there are a lot more restrictions I am working with, like length and the show-don’t-tell principle of writing it. Structure is of essence in screenplay, whereas I enjoy the fluidity and flexibility a book gives you. Writing a book for me is a lot more organic and there’s a lot I leave to chance, and therein lies the fun.

People interest me, and I have grown to learn that they cannot be divorced from them surroundings – socio-political themes are a part of that. Having said that, my first book, TOPPERS, was a through and through political thriller set in a school, whereas MY NAME IS NOT DEVDAS tangentially touches upon those themes. There is a big difference in approach between the two.

Mili: While reading My name is not Devdas, I sensed it was loosely inspired from real life incidents that we all read in newspaper few years ago, were you actually present at that time when that happened in Delhi? And are you planning to write again something that inspired from real incidents?

Aayush: Yeah, I was in the University of Delhi during all of that. Had rows with friends about the events, ended up alienating a few. It was only later that I realized how headstrong I had been. Was it worth the relationships it cost us? I honestly don’t know, but we could have done with a little more tolerance for each other’s ideas.

Regarding the second question, yes, I am always planning to write something inspired from real incidents. Even a well- written, relevant high fantasy is informed by real incidents, as is a dystopian novel like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mili: What are your 5 favorite books and why?

Aayush: Favorite is impossible to say. But some I’ve really enjoyed are Grisham’s The Last Juror, Dan Brown’s techno-thrillers, Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood, and Arthur Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama.

Mili: What about your favorite authors?

Aayush: I’ll always be grateful to Enid Blyton and JK Rowling for first piquing my interest in

And that’s a wrap on this awesome talk! Aayush’s way of making characters and stories feel real is like adding your own twist to a recipe. He’s got this cool talent for mixing real things with made-up stuff. Plus, he’s got this thing for stories about how people run countries and make big decisions – kind of like real life superheroes. So, stay tuned, because Aayush’s next adventures in writing are gonna be a rollercoaster ride!

                                                  Buy My Name is Not Devdas 


Related: Do Not Ask These Questions to an Author

62 thoughts on “Reviving Devdas: A Fresh Take on Classic Characters in Modern Delhi”

  1. Sounds like Aayush’s has a great gift for writing and screen writing. I haven’t heard of any of his books until now, but I would love to start off with reading TOPPERS. I would also say, I agree with his favorite authors choice as well, JK Rowling is one of the best!!

  2. Melissa Cushing

    Sounds like this was a spectacular interview opportunity and I so ave to check out this read now. Thank you for sharing!

  3. will have to try to read the Devdas book while I am here in India. I love Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood as well and of course Harry Potter. Need to look for Rendezvous with Rama

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Vidya. And yes, Enchanted Wood was the first foray into fantasy for many of us. Rendezvous with Rama is a spectacular sci-fi book as well, stays with you long after it’s ended.

  4. I love the idea of taking characters you think you know from the past and putting them in a more modern setting. Proof that circumstances matter so very much. Looking forward to reading My Name is Not Devdas.

  5. Great interview with the author. Thanks for this. it makes us understand what the books is all about better! Ia lso wanna read it.

  6. What an attention-grabbing title- My Name is not Devdas!
    I must say I really enjoyed gleaning through Author Aayush Gupta’s interview with Mili Das, It was honest and intense, I hope much like his latest book.

  7. Your passion for these characters and their contemporary stories is infectious. Thanks for adding a fresh perspective to a classic tale, looking forward to more captivating reads from you!

  8. Great post. I certainly have to agree with him on his favourite choice of authors – while I can’t condone JK, her writing is good and Harry Potter was a big part of my childhood.

    I’ll have to keep My Name Is Not Devdas in mind when I’m looking for book recommendations!

  9. Sounds like a great book that keeps your attention the entire time. I hadn’t heard of this author before, I will have to look into some of their work as I am always looking for new things to read.

  10. I am so glad to discover new authors for me. You made me curious about Aayush Gupta and I can’t wait to read his novels!

  11. What a fascinating interview with author Aayush Gupta, where classic meets modern in the bustling streets of Delhi. “My Name Is Not Devdas” brings a fresh spin to iconic characters, transporting them from black and white to vibrant colors, and from an era of old to the digital age.

  12. I have not heard of this book before but I am intrigued! I like that the author uses past characters and put them in a different situation that is modern. In a way, it’s kind of like putting ourselves in the past and seeing how we would react to life and situations back then. I am sure there would be a lot of conflicts in terms of interest and the way we live life but also in the way we would see things. I’ll definitely have to add this book to my reading list!

    Maureen |

  13. Great interview with a lot of insight into the book. Sounds like a cool read with taking characters into a setting and time. I’ll have to check it out.

  14. I love Rowling’s Harry Potter series too like the author. They are indeed a great inspiration and just awesome book.

  15. I love reading your interview. Just asking the right question and we getting the right answer. I cant wait to read his book.

  16. I truly enjoyed this interview and learning more about the author Aayush. I also can’t wait to purchase My Name is not Devdas after reading their inspo behind this work!

  17. Wow! This looks like an amazing read. I love how she was able to incorporate it into the present so, it becomes more relatable to readers. Happy to hear about her favorite authors too since I also loved the works of Enid Blyton and JK Rowling.

    Thank you for sharing this. Will check it out on Amazon.

  18. Melissa Cushing

    I totally enjoyed your intereview here and will for sure have to give this book a read! I love it and cannot wait to add it to my library!

  19. Your interview with this author sounds so interesting. It makes me want to find out more about the books that he has written. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  20. I have read all of Aayush’s favorite books except for one. It is nice to share the same reading interests.
    I enjoy reading author interviews to learn about what inspires authors and how their book takes shape.

  21. Makeovers are great, especially for these times that young readers can’t relate to an era gone by. And it’s always interesting to look at a perspective from two different POVs – the original author’s and Aasyush’s… beautiful interview!

  22. Love the title and the cover design and the book appears to be a real page-turner. Giving a classic a contemporary twist is a challenging endeavor. Though I’m unfamiliar with the author. I’m eager to check out into his work now. Thanks for recommending it.

  23. First, i loved the name of book “My name is not devdas”. its quite unique . I did not read or heard about Ayush Gupta’s work before. but this interview has given a proper insight about his work and author journey. thanks a lot for conducting and sharing this amazing interview with us.

  24. Bedabrata Chakraborty

    I checked out your article. It was quite informative and provided a unique perspective on the classic characters of Devdas in a modern setting.

  25. Devdas in modern day setting sounds really interesting. It is important that if readers belongs to modern time give them domething which they can relate to and author had done exactly that. Thanks for sharing this will add this book in my TBR.

  26. I read this book and it was indeed a good read for me… through this interview by Mili I got the chance to know about the author this time. But after reading several reviews of Indian authors and including this one… I just wonder why majority of their best reads and favorite authors are not from India. I am an Indian author book reading fan and I love Aayush’s work also.

  27. I’ve never heard of this book, but I’m interested! I appreciate how the author repurposes historical figures and places them in contemporary settings. It’s similar to putting ourselves in the past and imagining how we might respond to the events and people there. There would undoubtedly be many conflicts in terms of our interests, how we conduct our lives, and how we view the world. I must add this book to my list of must-reads! Amazing interview too.

  28. I definitely want to read “My Name Is Not Devdas” basis your recommendation. I think this book will resonate with readers like me who have ever grappled with matters of the heart and the complexities of personal identity. Seems like this one is a captivating and contemporary exploration of love, heartbreak, and identity in the modern age, through the lens of relatable characters and a narrative that deftly combines humor and poignancy. I want to get a fresh perspective on the timeless themes of love and self-discovery.

  29. I too picked the book for it such an interesting name. the story of Devdas has been so popular, especially after the popular movie and the characters are so inspiring yet so modern.this book was quite a refreshing change from all that we have heard or seen.

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