Interview: Roshani Chokshi's 'Aru Shah and the End of Time' is set to introduce Hindu mythology to Hollywood for the first time ever

The novel is the first from Rick Riordan Presents, the new Hyperion imprint spearheaded by the author of the Percy Jackson series.

                            Interview: Roshani Chokshi's 'Aru Shah and the End of Time' is set to introduce Hindu mythology to Hollywood for the first time ever
Rick Riordan will be spearheading this venture and Roshani will follow his lead (Getty Images)

The young adult novel Aru Shah and the End of Time could be the next big fantasy fiction movie franchise we have all been waiting for! 

Paramount Pictures, in April, won the movie rights for the novel written by Roshani Chokshi in a tough auction battle with Netflix. The novel has a global allure with a magical premise and mythological creatures, similar to that of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, but still a whole lot different with a 12-year-old girl who has a penchant for lies as the protagonist.

The studio said that with Aru Shah, it sees a potential for a franchise that is a cross between Wizard of Oz and Coco, with a touch of Night at the Museum. Karen Rosenfelt of Twilight Saga and Percy Jackson fame is reportedly set to produce the movie.

The novel revolves around a 12-year-old Aru Shah who lives at an annex of the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, where her mother works. Shah, who studies at a rich Atlanta private day school, often lies to her classmates to maker her life appear more interesting. However, she is confronted by her classmates who are out to catch her in a lie. They dare her to light the museum’s Lamp of Bharata, which she claimed is cursed. She quickly lights the lamp to get over with her fibs but the lamp unleashes a demon of destruction and havoc unfolds!

The novel is the first from Rick Riordan Presents (RRP), the new Hyperion imprint spearheaded by the author of the Percy Jackson series.

The novel has brought into play the untapped world of Hindu mythology and its intriguing figures who assist the young heroine on a journey which is riddled with contemporary pop culture references. The novel also explores the concept of karma and reincarnation.

Chokshi is the New York Times best-selling author of The Star-Touched series and Aru Shah and The End of Time, book one in the Pandava series. She grew up in Georgia, where she acquired a Southern accent but does not use it unless under duress and she has a luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog.

In a conversation with Meaww, Chokshi tells us about how she came to infuse Hindu mythology in the book and how it was working with Rick Riordan.


The venture is being spearheaded by Rick Riordan (Getty Images)

1. Paramount Pictures has bought the rights to your novel, do you envision a movie series similar to Percy Jackson fame in the years to come?

It is very hard to know what books will end up truly becoming adapted into film. But it is my hope that if ARU makes it to the big screen that it will inspire a whole new audience of readers to feel as though they have seen themselves and make them excited about the world inside of the book as well.

2. You were born and brought up in the United States, where did you gather your knowledge of Hindu mythology from?

These are the childhood stories that I was told growing up. I grew up in a mixed race home where my mother is from the Philippines and my father is from India, reading our mythology was how we connected to our heritage. These are such vibrant stories that deserve to have more mainstream attention, so I’m really glad that Aru is finding its audience.


3. What was it like working with Rick Riordan and having ARU SHAH be the inaugural titles in the Rick Riordan Presents line?

HE WAS (IS!) AWESOME! His teacher background really came through in his editing style. He's got great attention to detail, helped guide me in the right direction, but always made sure that my voice was being preserved and showing through.

I actually heard about RRP completely by chance! And I started salivating at the mouth for the opportunity to write a story in the line. I sent off those first three chapters of Aru with a hope and a prayer and zero expectation of anything happening. I was, blessedly, wrong.


4. Did working with Rick Riordan influence some of the similarities which we notice between Aru and Percy Jackson? 

Aru's personality came to me entirely on my own. I was very similar to Aru when I was in middle school. Just like me, she has a huge imagination and a penchant for lying to get out of sticky social situations. I think where her and Percy are very similar is in their ability to sass people in near-death experiences.

5. What is your favorite Hindu mythology, and why?

My favorite tale is the story of Narasimha. It’s delightfully gruesome and full of riddles, which I have always loved, including in all of my stories. I love that it’s an example of how reincarnation of the gods is not always this beautiful thing. Sometimes it’s a very violent means of restoring the balance of the universe.


6.  Can we see more books focusing on Hindu mythology in line from you?

Yes, Aru is book one of a planned quartet!

Chokshi's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She is the 2016 finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel. Her short story, The Star Maiden, was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.