How do heaven and hell function? Who decided who goes where? And do they even exist?
These are a few of the questions we often ask ourselves and more often, we don’t have an answer to either of them. Ravi Gupta’s new book, ‘When God Went to Hell’, imagines heaven and hell functioning like corporates that compete for the human souls market share.
When the character of God finds out that the Devil is indulging in unfair trade practices, he decides to go to Hell and confront him on this.
“There are certain characters or institutions that we grow up hearing about who determine our life. Questions about the afterlife always bother us. We all have different perceptions about god, religion and faith. I decided to take a satirical route and found a funny and unbelievable side to it. Heaven and hell are running as two corporates who look at human souls are commodities. There are mergers and acquisitions also. The book essentially tries to provoke thinking,” says Gupta while speaking about what prompted him to write the book.
The author was formerly an IPS officer who later took over as Managing Director of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). He produced films of stalwarts like Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Mira Nair.
Portraying the afterlife’s functioning corporate-like, is something unheard of. To gather more human souls, heaven is advised by a consultancy firm on Earth to appoint a CEO. This turns out to be a disaster.
But why has Gupta chosen a capitalist model for something as inexplicable as life after death?
“Society today is increasingly moving towards a more capitalist outlook. Socialism and Marxism only looked good on paper and didn’t work out in reality. Capitalism seems to have fared better. I have taken this as an example to partly bring out our own silly thoughts on material needs. The fact that the Devil was indulging in unfair trade practices is an underlined critique of capitalism. It creates the necessity of greed where we look at everything in terms of market share and market valuation. Heaven does very badly once a CEO is appointed. It shows how we allow ourselves to be driven by materialism.”
Speaking of his relationship with god and religion, the writer and educationalist says that he is an atheist but has no qualms about others believing in them, “I don’t believe in God but I know that there are many who do. Religion has some advantages to it. We grew up listening to wonderful and interesting stories. People always choose whatever seems best for them. Religion and philosophy are intertwined with one another. Yet, we must not forget that the human mind is gullible and there is danger in blindly following a self-proclaimed god or wrong practices.”
‘When God Went to Hell’ will be officially released at the Pune International Literary Festival on September 9 by Dr Mohan Agashe.
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