It was a dream come true, in the literal sense for Boston-based writer Ricardo Alexanders when he wrote his novel Bollywood Invasion. It started, after all, with a dream that made him realize that he could explore time travel through his latest novel.
Alexanders, a chemist specializing in innovative drug formulation development, describes himself as a passionate writer who loves penning books based on history as well as science fiction.
He tells Little India about his journey of transforming his dream into a book and his love for India.
“As a lifelong Beatles fan, I stumbled onto a YouTube video in 2013. It was a tribute band which played Let It Be in the video with traditional Indian instruments. That very night, I had a strange dream where I time-traveled to wake up as a singer in India in the 1950s,” says the 40-something writer.
As Alexanders scribbled down the lingering memory of his dream the next morning, a thought occurred to him. “If John Lennon had been born in India with the same talent, could he still conquer the world? I asked myself,” he adds.
The question never left his mind as he wrote the book, which will be published in September this year. Alexanders feels that something extraordinary would have happened if an Indian artist was to take the United States by storm back in the ’60s.
The book tells the story the protagonist, Raj Scindia, who forms the first student Rock’n Roll band in India and conquers the world with his music, representing Bollywood. “In my mind, they should be called the Bollywood Invasion by the American press as the Beatles were called the British Invasion at the time,” Alexanders says.
The story starts from modern-day Brooklyn, where the 16-year-old John Palmieri is living an average life until one day he is hit by a bus and wakes up as Scindia, a prince in India, in 1958.
The book was the first one conceived by Alexanders, although it isn’t his debut published work. “It took me three years to write to my own satisfaction,” he reveals. “But it is well worth the effort. The storyline is filled with many unexpected twists and turns,” he says, adding that his love for Beatles’ numbers made him fuse the band’s melodies with the plot.
Writing a book based on Bollywood can be challenging for a person who has not grown up watching Hindi movies. Alexanders, however, made an attempt to know the Hindi film industry by watching many films as he researched on the topic. To lend the plot a fresh 21st century perspective, he watched blockbusters such as Three Idiots and Slumdog Millionaire. “These films helped me understand Bollywood. By the way, Three Idiots is my favorite Bollywood movie of all time,” he adds.
Since Alexanders has always been drawn towards history, science fiction and time travel, his earlier publication, Dragon Tomb, which came out in 2017, follows the genres. Dragon Tomb is the first book of a pentalogy called The Last Resistance, a history and science fiction series that starts from World War II. The story follows a young archaeologist who discovers the true origin of Chinese civilization and saves the world from Armageddon.
Exploring a Chinese theme was not a coincidence for Alexanders as he is of Chinese descent. “I do have Chinese royal heritage and like many from China, I am an indirect descendant of the Great Yu — a legendary ruler in ancient China,” he says, adding that he wants to build on his strength of writing fantasies and his next book, Resurrection, the second book of the pentalogy, will add to his repertoire of fantasy fiction.
“After that I will try to finish another India-themed fantasy. The stroryline for this book will revolve around an Indian American boy with disability who chooses to play basketball for the Indian national team and wins India the Olympic gold medal,” Alexanders discloses.
He is now on a quest to know more about India, and wishes to visit the country, although he feels that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. “But it certainly is mine,” he says. “In its chaos, there’s a certain order and great vibrancy. India has a long history, rich culture and beauty,” Alexanders adds, pointing out that many characters in his book Bollywood Invasion have been named after his Indian friends in the United States.
“I have never been to India,” he says. “But I have made friends with many wonderful Indian people here in the United States, who are proud of their heritage.”