Interview with Deepak Surana Author of “The Kargil Story”Dive into the depths of 'The Kargil Story' with author Deepak Surana in an exclusive interview on Frontlist. Gain insights into this compelling narrative.
on Jan 29, 2024
Deepak Surana is a graduate in business administration. Having done his schooling at Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bangalore, he developed a keen interest in the armed forces at a very young age. He is very passionate about the Indian Army and has met many war veterans and families of those who laid their lives for the nation over the years.
He has previously authored The Shershah of Kargil – the definitive biography of Late Captain Vikram Batra, PVC. He gave valuable inputs in the making of the blockbuster movie Shershaah, for which he was given due credit.
He is currently working in his family business in Bangalore and devotes much of his leisure time to help spread awareness about our armed forces in any way possible
Frontlist: Could you tell us about your journey from being a graduate in business administration to becoming an author with a strong focus on the armed forces and patriotism? What inspired your passion for the Indian Army at such a young age?
Deepak: Let me take you back in time. In 2003-04, when I was a boy aged eight, we had many Bollywood movies like LOC Kargil and Lakshya released. These movies, which I watched with my cousins, had a deep impact on me. Despite being from a non-fauji background, I was magnetically attracted to our men in uniform. As years went by and social media boomed, I saw the interview of Late Capt. Vikram Batra, PVC, which made him my instant hero. What he had done for the country at the young age of twenty-five left a huge imprint on my heart. A few years later, I connected with his identical twin brother, Mr. Vishal Batra, who has been like a rock for me and the entire Batra family. A visit to Palampur in 2016 changed my life. I had the rare fortune to visit the houses of Maj. Sudhir Walia, Capt. Vikram Batra and Capt. Sourabh Kalia. Holding Capt. Batra's PVC in my hands made me want to tell his story to the world. Hence, I completed his biography in 2017 after a year of research, which included visiting his family, friends, coursemates, and comrades from the battlefield. THE SHERSHAH OF KARGIL, my first book, was launched by Capt. Batra's family and comrades in September 2017. My second book, THE KARGIL STORY, was launched in Delhi in January 2023. This book covers many unheard and unsung stories from the Kargil War, never before in the public domain.
Frontlist: Can you share your experiences meeting war veterans and families of those who sacrificed their lives for the nation?
Deepak: It is always a surreal experience when I meet war veterans and veer families. Emotions range from pride, patriotism, and pain. Hearing stories from war veterans is a hair-raising experience. Despite having achieved so much, the humility they possess always strikes me. Meeting a legendary warrior like Lt Gen. Y.K Joshi is one of the high points of my life. I remember being totally in awe of his humility and generosity. I have imbibed a lot of strength just by looking at Mrs. Meena Nayyar, the mother of Capt. Anuj Nayyar, Mrs. Kamla Batra, the mother of Capt. Batra and Mrs. Tripta Thapar, the mother of Capt. Vijyant Thapar. I am very blessed to have closely interacted with so many war veterans and veer families.
Frontlist: In "The Kargil Story," you bring forth anecdotes from the battlefield. Can you share a few memorable stories that stand out to you? Also, how did you uncover lesser-known details, such as the promises made by the jawans of the 2nd Rajputana Rifles or the role of 'the army wife' in ensuring success in battle?
Deepak: Each hero who fought at Kargil has a story to tell. However, among the lesser-known stories, I have been very inspired by the courage of Lance Havaldar Balwan Singh from 17 Jat. Despite being mortally wounded, he kept shouting the battle cry of 'Jat Balwan, Jai Bhagwan' to keep the spirits of his men high. Regarding the stories from the 2nd RAJRIF, I was lucky enough to interact with many JCOs and officers from the unit in Delhi. Also, I am grateful to Brigadier Mohit Saxena, Vrc, 2nd RAJRIF, for spending hours narrating unheard tales of valor from his unit. THE KARGIL STORY also covers the story of Mrs. Shobita Asthana, Brig's wife. Amul Asthana, 1/11 GR. She contributed invaluably to the war effort of the entire battalion.
Frontlist: What do you believe is the essence of patriotism, especially in the context of the Kargil War and the stories you've shared? How can individuals, beyond armed forces personnel, contribute to fostering a sense of patriotism and awareness?
Deepak: Be good citizens. Make yourselves worthy of the sacrifices made by our heroes at the border. No matter what your field is, always work with a sense of honesty and dedication. When a normal citizen realizes that our soldiers give 'their today for our tomorrow,' we will start respecting our soldiers more
Frontlist: As an author and advocate for armed forces awareness, what moments or stories have left the most profound impact on you personally?
Deepak: Every story I have heard has impacted me in some way or another. However, to pick some, I would list the lives of Capt. Vikram Batra, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal, Capt. Manoj Pandey, Maj. Mohit Saxena, and Nb. Subedar Chuni Lal has had a profound impact on the way I think and live. It's not only about their gallantry but also about their humility, single-minded focus, and never-ending spirit of patriotism that inspires me.
Frontlist: What message or takeaway do you hope readers gain from your books in terms of patriotism, bravery, and the sacrifices made by our armed forces?
Deepak: Even if a few boys and girls don the uniform after reading my books, I will think that my job is done! It brings me immense pleasure when I get messages on my social media from aspirants who tell me that they cleared their SSB and that my books have motivated them. All the hard work put in feels validated. Besides, even if someone does not join the forces but learns about a few unsung heroes by reading my book, I will be gratified.