The Bookoholics recently sat down with Manoj Kukreja, author of “Praan – The Life”. We had an endearing and interesting conversation with him on his book, and everything that comprised it. Have a read below:

The Bookoholics: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Manoj Kukreja: I feel writing is quite an in-born ability. It is when you actually get a platform/chance to realize that feeling. I had the feeling to write from quite an early age.

The Bookoholics: What are your passions in life?

Manoj Kukreja: Well, writing is one. Socialising, travelling in nature, reading, and of course, tennis. I started my own channel on YouTube, “KUK SPEAKS”, which is an exclusive talk show with personalities from Sports/Music/Film etc.

The Bookoholics: Tell us a little about your family?

Manoj Kukreja: I lost my father on 22nd Sept. of this year. He was a retired senior Bureaucrat from Madhya-Pradesh. My mother is a house wife and my wife retired last year as a school teacher. I have three children; two sons and a daughter. My elder son is a Producer/Director of Documentary Films, younger son, a B.E.(Mech.) from IIT Roorkee, is a Founder- Director of a Film and Literature Festival. My daughter, an MBA, is a Teacher.

The Bookoholics: How long did it take you to write “Praan”?

Manoj Kukreja: Right from concept to the entire publication process, it took me around 3 years.

The Bookoholics: Tell us more about the book.

Manoj Kukreja: Praan revolves heavily on human relationships. It shows the satisfaction that a human attains from positive interaction and the greed of material which overshadows all relationships. Other major covering aspects, are the determination of an individual against all odds and the purity of love that drives him into attaining the impossible. Importance of education, and the success (though a little late) of making a profession out of something you love to do, is displayed. When work is not a burden, but sheer enjoyment.

The Bookoholics: Who is your favourite character? And why?

Manoj Kukreja: My favourite character would be Anuj, mostly because of him being the most human at heart. His other values also lean me a bit towards him; of servicing humanity, of sheer focus, of determination, of taking pride in traditional values, and above all, of respecting and maintaining love to its purest form, even in odd times.

The Bookoholics: You wrote this book after the first lockdown, and we can see you have given references of COVID-19 as well, in the book. So, when did the idea of “Praan” germinate?

Manoj Kukreja: The initial idea of “Praan” germinated way back, in 2017-18. Then, I had named the novel “Anamika”, which means “without name”. Yes, I have used the background of Covid in the novel, since Anuj actually dies due to Covid. But that is it. Actually, I utilized the lockdown period by writing in long stretches of 7 to 8 hours. So, one can say that Covid gave me a lot more time to be able to write in absolute peace, without any disturbance. It also inspired me to rewrite the beginning and end of the novel. Both are based on the pandemic.

The Bookoholics: Is it safe to assume that “Praan” may have been inspired by your life?

Manoj Kukreja: The inspiration of “Praan” is the bureaucracy of the state of Madhya Pradesh, which I saw from very closer quarters as my father retired from a very senior post. To say that there are glimpses of incidents that actually took place with me and my near and dear ones, would be an apt statement. But all characters are solely visualized and imaginary. Being an active sportsman, I knew the faults and high handedness of the officials of the sports association, which I could put forth frankly, especially through the Olympics chapter.

The Bookoholics: What do you want the readers to understand or feel after reading ‘Praan’?

Manoj Kukreja: Primarily, select a profession that you love. One should look forward to go to the work place and then one would realize that time just flies. Education is a must. Anuj’s family migrated from Pakistan after partition in 1947, but since Anuj’s father and his two uncles were educated, they could establish themselves, although they had lost all their material wealth. Lastly, respect your love. Few have the privilege to get love, but if and when you get it, do not alter its purity. Love is supreme.

The Bookoholics: Which part was the hardest for you to write?

Manoj Kukreja: The hardest part was the start of Chapter 3. Primarily because I knew the character of Anuj had to perish. Thus, the end was clear, and the concept became more clear due to Covid. It gave me a cause, without highlighting or stretching the suffering of Anuj. I then just visualized of taking this novel into a flashback.

The Bookoholics: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

Manoj Kukreja: That silence is absolutely beautiful and that it gives you a rare chance of being with yourself.

The Bookoholics: What do you think makes a good story?

Manoj Kukreja: Each writer, each human, has their own concept of goodness. I love sharing the practical experiences of life. The hypocrisy, the self-centered, and the greedy beings of society. My goodness comes in tackling these practical negatives with calmness and composure and how to forget and leave behind bad people and experiences. For me, a good story would be sharing the truths of life. Embracing the beauty and fighting the ugly.

The Bookoholics: What was the first book that made you cry?

Manoj Kukreja: The first book that made me cry is difficult to recollect, but I do remember a short story from Rabindranath Tagore, which had a long-lasting effect on me, making my eyes moist.

The Bookoholics: What are some books that inspired you?

Manoj Kukreja: There are so many authors whose books have had immaculate impact on me, right from childhood. Staring from James Headley Chase, Harold Robbins, Ayn Rand, Alistair Maclean, Agatha Christie, Jeffrey Archer, Robin Cook, etc. Then I became a commentator and shifted my reading exclusively to sports. Thus, the era of serious novel reading somehow terminated around 2010.  

The Bookoholics: Have you ever had to go through writer’s block?

Manoj Kukreja: Fortunately, no.

The Bookoholics: If given a chance to write your master script, what genre it will be?

Manoj Kukreja: Either on Nature, or Sports.

The Bookoholics: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Manoj Kukreja: I have written a few short stories, poems, articles, which would have been published around a dozen times so far in local papers and corporate souvenirs. I am currently writing a novel which has 12 short stories. All 12 stories are based on my experience as a sportsman and commentator.

The Bookoholics: How was your experience of the whole publication process?

Manoj Kukreja: Writing was much simpler than publishing. It was a tough road, indeed.

The Bookoholics: How did your book affect your personal and professional life?

Manoj Kukreja: As I referred above, writing this book made me come very close to one person, that is me. I am positively more confident and more focused, post the publishing of “Praan”. Since I am an Engineering Consultant and a Commentator, I haven’t noticed any changes in my professional life so far. 

The Bookoholics: What is your message for young authors?

Manoj Kukreja: Mind is a factory of thoughts and emotions. It is a large-scale factory. If you have the talent of expressing the bolted; do it. Write as much as you can. Write anything. Write sense, write nonsense, just write. After all, nobody knows what will appeal.

We wish Manoj well for all his future endeavors.