Interview with Kiran Nirvan of “Battle Of Barki”Discover insights from Kiran Nirvan, author of 'Battle Of Barki,' in an exclusive interview on Frontlist. Delve into the story behind the book!
on Jan 30, 2024
Kiran Nirvan is the pseudonym used by authors Kirandeep Singh and Nirvan Singh. Together they’ve authored four bestselling books—Nasteya: The Aryan Saga, 21 Kesaris: The Untold Story of the Battle of Saragarhi, which was also endorsed by the director of the movie Kesari starring Akshay Kumar, The Kargil Girl - launched along with the movie on same subject by Dharma Productions with forewords by Janhvi Kapoor, director Sharan Sharma and 25th Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa and Battlefield Brothers, a book that received immense praises from Bollywood directors, writers and actors like R Madhavan, Prakash Raj, Sudip Sharma, Shivam Nair and Vishnu Vardhan. The author duo has been acclaimed by Forbes, BBC, CNN News 18, Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, TOI, Hindustan Times, Deccan Herald etc, for their exceptional storytelling and well-researched books.
Nirvan Singh, Nirvan Singh, born and brought up in Amritsar, is an avid artist, writer and adventurer. Inspired by military service by his family’s last three generations, it is his endeavour to write about stories of grit and determination, wisdom and valour of men and women from the Indian Armed Forces and other exemplary men and women of this nation.
Kirandeep Singh is the former head of the Department of Management Studies in a college in Amritsar and is currently pursuing his doctorate. He has written several poems and short stories in both English and Punjabi.
Frontlist: Kiran & Nirvan, your books uncover untold battlefield stories, depicting the army's fight, struggle, and courage. Do these narratives move you emotionally as a writer? And how did you come across these lesser-known stories and decide to share them?
Kiran Nirvan: Uncovering untold battlefield stories and portraying the army's fight, struggle, and courage is indeed a deeply moving process. The emotional impact of these narratives is profound, evoking a sense of admiration and respect for the incredible sacrifices made. Discovering lesser-known stories involves extensive research, often through historical records, interviews, and personal accounts. The decision to share these stories stems from a desire to honor and commemorate the often-overlooked heroes and their extraordinary journeys. With one of us being an army officer himself (Nirvan), we keep coming across such stories of valour and our desire to glorify such stories help us to reach out to the right people.
Frontlist: How did the soldiers of 4 SIKH demonstrate their readiness and determination to undertake a mission that was not only dangerous but also carried a high probability of loss? Can you shed light on the factors that fueled their commitment and how they mentally prepared themselves for the challenges they knew they were likely to face?
Kiran Nirvan: The soldiers of 4 SIKH showcased remarkable readiness and determination in preparing for the dangerous mission to attack Barki during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. Their commitment was fueled by a deep sense of duty, patriotism, and an understanding of the high stakes involved. Factors such as strong leadership like their CO- Lt Col Anant Singh and a charismatic young officer Lt Kanwaljit Singh, camaraderie among unit members, and a shared belief in the importance of their mission played pivotal roles. Mental preparation involved rigorous training, strategic briefings, and fostering a collective mindset that embraced the challenges ahead, instilling a sense of confidence and resilience in the face of adversity. In addition to their dedication to the mission, it's noteworthy that many Sikh soldiers of 4 SIKH harbored a deep and personal connection to the region, as Pakistan was once their ancestral homeland before the Partition of India in 1947. This added a poignant layer to their commitment, as they eagerly sought to reclaim a part of their heritage.
Frontlist: How did you authentically convey the emotional experiences of 4 Sikh individuals facing the mission challenges? Can you share key writing techniques used to depict a range of emotions, from courage and determination to fear and camaraderie?
Kiran Nirvan: Authentically conveying the emotional experiences of 4 Sikh individuals facing the challenges of the mission involved a meticulous approach to research. We were fortunate to have access to authentic unit records, personal interviews with veterans, and documented experiences that provided invaluable insights into the soldiers' perspectives. Additionally, the guidance of Brigadier Kanwaljit Singh, who himself fought in the Battle of Barki, played a crucial role. His firsthand accounts and expertise enriched the narrative, allowing us to capture the nuances of the emotional journey these individuals undertook. This collaborative effort ensured a portrayal that resonated with the authenticity of their experiences during that pivotal moment in history.
To depict a range of emotions, including courage, determination, fear, and camaraderie, we employ the following key writing techniques:
1. Show, Don't Tell: Instead of explicitly stating emotions, use vivid descriptions, actions, and dialogue to allow readers to infer and feel the emotions themselves.
2. Character Development: Create well-rounded characters with distinct personalities, histories, and motivations. Readers connect more deeply with characters when they understand their backgrounds, weaknesses, fears, strengths and experiences.
3. Use of Imagery: Paint a picture with words. Use sensory details and vivid imagery to evoke emotions and immerse readers in the characters' experiences as well as the prevailing timeline.
4. Dialogue: Craft authentic and meaningful dialogue that reflects the characters' emotions. Conversations can reveal a lot about their mindset, relationships, and internal struggles. Also, the military style of dialogue is different from normal conversations. Use of military jargons should be bare minimum but if used, the meaning should be made clear.
5. Pacing: Control the pace of the narrative to match the emotional intensity of the scenes. Slow down for moments of reflection or build tension with faster pacing during action sequences.
6. Internal Monologue: Offer insights into characters' thoughts and internal struggles. This provides a window into their emotional state and adds depth to their experiences.
7. Symbolism: Utilize symbols and metaphors that resonate with the emotions you want to convey. Symbolic elements can enhance the emotional impact of the narrative. A soldier’s gesture conveys more than his words. Learn to convey them.
8. Flashbacks and Memories: Incorporate relevant flashbacks or memories to provide context for characters' emotions. This technique can reveal underlying fears, motivations, or past experiences influencing their current state of mind. We have used this extensively to build Kanwaljit sir’s character in the book Battle of Barki.
9. Conflict and Resolution: Introduce conflicts that challenge characters emotionally. The resolution of these conflicts can showcase their growth and resilience.
10. Consistency in Tone: Maintain a consistent tone throughout the narrative, adjusting it to match the prevailing emotions. This ensures a cohesive and immersive reading experience.
Frontlist: Do you think adding fictional scenarios strengthens the emotional connection with readers? How do you balance facts and fiction to create a more emotionally resonant narrative?
Kiran Nirvan: Yes, incorporating fictional scenarios can indeed strengthen the emotional connection with readers. It allows us to explore and amplify the emotional aspects of a narrative, providing a more engaging and resonant experience. However, it's crucial to balance facts and fiction to maintain authenticity.
Here's how one can achieve this balance:
1. Research and Authenticity: Ground your narrative in thorough research to establish a solid foundation of facts. Ensure that the historical or factual elements are accurate and true to the context.
2. Character Development: While characters may be fictional, their motivations, behaviors, and experiences should align with the realities of the time and setting. Develop characters in a way that feels authentic to the historical or factual backdrop.
3. Creative Liberties: Allow yourself creative liberties in scenarios and interactions to enhance emotional impact. These fictional elements should, however, complement and not contradict the established facts.
4. Maintain Plausibility: Even in fictional scenarios, strive for plausibility. Ensure that the events and emotions depicted align with the overall tone and historical context of the narrative.
5. Blend Seamlessly: Integrate fictional elements seamlessly with factual ones. This blending should enhance the emotional resonance of the story without compromising the integrity of the historical setting.
6. Author's Note: Consider including an author's note or disclaimer to communicate to readers where you've taken creative liberties. This transparency helps maintain trust and allows readers to appreciate the distinction between fact and fiction.
Taking creative liberties becomes a tool to enrich the narrative rather than detract from its authenticity.
Frontlist: How did you approach character development in your book to ensure that not only the protagonist but also other characters receive ample justice and space in the narrative? What considerations influenced your decision to give each character a significant presence in the story?
Kiran Nirvan: This is our approach to character development that we often use to ensure a well-rounded narrative.
1. Individual Backgrounds: Create detailed backgrounds for each character, including their personal history, experiences, and motivations. This helps in understanding their perspectives and actions within the narrative.
2. Motivations and Goals: Clearly define the motivations and goals of each character. This not only adds depth to their personalities but also guides their actions and decisions throughout the story.
3. Character Arcs: Plan individual character arcs that show growth, change, or challenges. Each character should undergo a meaningful journey or transformation that contributes to the overall narrative.
4. Diverse Personalities: Ensure a diverse range of personalities among the characters. This diversity adds richness to the story, creating a dynamic interplay of different traits, strengths, and weaknesses.
5. Interpersonal Relationships: Explore the relationships between characters. Well-developed interactions and connections contribute to the overall emotional resonance of the story.
6. Multiple Viewpoints: Consider incorporating multiple viewpoints if it suits the narrative. This allows readers to see events from different perspectives, enriching the storytelling experience.
7. Secondary Characters: Give due importance to secondary characters. Even if they aren't the focus, well-developed secondary characters contribute to the authenticity and depth of the overall narrative.
8. Consistent Behavior: Ensure that characters' actions and behaviors remain consistent with their established personalities. This consistency enhances believability and reader engagement.
9. Dialogue and Interaction: Craft meaningful dialogue and interactions that reveal aspects of characters' personalities. Subtle nuances in communication can provide valuable insights into their thoughts and emotions.
10. Character Relationships with Setting: Connect characters to the setting. Show how their backgrounds and experiences relate to their world, reinforcing the narrative's coherence.
Several considerations influenced the decision to give each character a significant presence in a story:
1. Diversity of Perspectives: Including multiple well-developed characters allows for a diverse range of perspectives.
2. Depth and Realism: Readers are more likely to connect with and invest in a narrative that features characters with distinct personalities, backgrounds, and motivations.
3. Subplots and Interconnectedness: Each character can contribute to subplots and interconnected storylines. This complexity adds layers to the narrative, keeping readers engaged and invested in various plot aspects.
4. Reader Engagement: A diverse cast of characters ensures that there's someone for every reader to relate to or find interesting. This broadens the appeal of the story and enhances overall reader engagement.
5. World-Building: Characters contribute to the world-building of the story. Their backgrounds, relationships, and interactions shape the setting, making it more vibrant and immersive.
Frontlist: Kiran and Nirvan, given Brig Kanwaljit Singh (Retd)'s wealth of military experience, do you have any plans or aspirations to collaborate with him on another book? Are there discussions about jointly exploring more narratives that delve into untold stories of courage and struggle in the future?
Kiran Nirvan: There are plans to collaborate with Brigadier Kanwaljit Singh again. We are as such lucky and honored to have met him. We are currently in the process of developing a new narrative based on the Battle of Siramani, which took place during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Brigadier Kanwaljit Singh's wealth of military experience and firsthand knowledge of the events will undoubtedly enrich the storytelling. The Battle of Siramani holds historical significance, and we aim to shed light on untold stories of courage and struggle from that pivotal moment in our shared history.
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain."