An Interview with Author Ravi Valluri – Bombay Review and Other Stories

An Interview with Author Ravi Valluri – Bombay Review and Other Stories

Ravi Valluri, a multifaceted personality, is the CEO of Chhattisgarh East Railway Limited and Chhattisgarh East-West Railway Limited. With a background in the Indian Railway Traffic Service and a decorated stint in Mil Rail (Army Headquarters), Valluri’s career spans diverse fields. Alongside his corporate endeavors, Valluri is an accomplished author of both fiction and non-fiction works, exploring themes ranging from spirituality to politics. His latest collection of short stories, “Bombay Review and Other Stories,” showcases his storytelling prowess and deep insight into human nature. Valluri’s passion for writing is complemented by his role as a faculty member of the Art of Living, where he conducts sessions on happiness and meditation. A prolific writer and speaker, Valluri continues to inspire audiences with his engaging narratives and insightful commentary.

The Literature Times: Your latest book, “Bombay Review and Other Stories,” was awarded at Sahitya Sparsh Awards 2024. Please express your thoughts on it.

Ravi Valluri:  It is matter of honour and pride to be felicitated by Sahitya Sparsh Awards 2024 for “Bombay Review and Other Stories”. This is a work of fiction which includes 21 short stories and 22 drabbles (stories of exactly one hundred word) The book has been selected for original fictional work by some other organisations and publishing houses. So, indeed I certainly feel elevated. You can call it a ‘chutzpah’ moment and high-octane stuff.

The Literature Times: Many of your stories are inspired by real-life incidents. Can you share some examples of these incidents and how they influenced your storytelling?

Ravi Valluri:  After writing two novels, I decided to switch gears and write a collection of short stories. At that time, I was posted at Chennai as the Principal Chief Commercial Manager, Southern Railway, when the lethal corona virus had once again assumed a virulent form and we were working from home.  I came across several WhatsApp messages, newspaper headlines, relationship problems as ‘humans’ were caged. To my mind, the darker shade of our personality got revealed.

For example, I came across unethical journalism, cases of plagiarising in writing, individuals physically and mentally impacted by the pandemic among others. So, the collection of the 21 short stories and 22 drabbles all delve into such real-life incidents set in present times. But I gave it a twist by relating them with the epic Mahabharata, Zen Stories and tales of Panchatantra. Human life echoes and mirrors a myriad moment, some of grief and chicanery and some of triumph and hope. At the end of the dark tunnel, I see light. This is what I have attempted to portray in this collection.

The Literature Times: As someone who has had a successful career in the railway sector and as a faculty of the Art of Living, how do you find the time and inspiration to pursue your passion for writing?

Ravi Valluri:  I am often asked this question. To me it is the grace of my spiritual master Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.  Since childhood I was interested in theatre, music and writing and made some attempts in that direction. It was providence that I was associated eminent personalities like Barry John and Param Vir and worked in their productions at St Xavier’s School, Delhi. Thereafter I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of noted trouper Pankaj Kapur at Hindu College, Delhi University and frequently watched plays staged by the National School of Drama and also participated in music theatre workshops.

My quest continued in the field of arts as I attempted to learn Hindustani Classical music. Unfortunately, for me and my family I turned into an alcoholic. I came out of the cesspool of alcoholism through the rhythmic breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya (and went on to become a faculty of Art of Living) and the deep prayers of my wife ( who is also my editor), my mother, grandmother and father.

On attaining sobriety, I regained my mojo and ventured into writing blogs, then for the Life Positive – Emagazine, Free Press Journal, Sakshi Post and The Hindu. I happened to show those articles to Gurudev, who blessed and encouraged me to write. He prophesised that I should continue writing and said, “Keep writing – you will become an author.” Thus, my maiden book “The Matter of Mind” was published and unveiled by Gurudev on the auspicious day of Navaratri.

The Literature Times: Your previous works include both fiction and non-fiction, covering topics ranging from spirituality to politics to personal development. How do you approach writing across different genres, and do you have a favorite genre to write in?

Ravi Valluri: In several ways I have answered your question above. I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction and they are immensely impacted by the roller coaster life, personalities I have come across in life and being a faculty of the Art of Living. But my challenge has always been as to how to collate it with the personalities of our epics, our past and dovetail it to events of the present.

Certainly, writing is a lonely profession and requires immense imagination especially when writing fictional works.

The Literature Times: Your books have been translated into multiple languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil. How do you feel about your work reaching a wider audience through these translations?

Ravi Valluri:  It is indeed so exciting and wonderful when political parties, other writers get in touch to translate my works. This provides me a wider audience. For instance, my book on the Prime Minister was translated in Kannada, two non-fictional works were translated into Telugu and Tamil and a collection of short stories and a novel in Hindi. This provides me with a larger audience to narrate my stories. I think both the author and the translator learns a lot in the process, to ensure the meaning is not lost, sentences are crafted properly and the spirit of the plot and content remains intact.

Translation is a good platform where emerging and also published authors need to try their hand. One is on the learning curve.

The Literature Times: You and your wife have curated a bilingual collection of short stories titled “Festivals: A Ray of Hope.” Can you tell us more about this project and the inspiration behind it?

Ravi Valluri: This is also related to the pandemic. People could not celebrate festivals – be it Holi, Deepavali, Janmashtami, Navaratri, Durga Puja, Christmas, Easter, Eid and several New Year days (that is, regional New Year Day like Baisakhi, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Bihu … the list is endless). So, we struck upon this idea as to how in such trying circumstances festivals were celebrated, say wearing masks, or through Zoom. By Gurudev’s grace I attend all the Homas and Pujas at Bangalore Ashram of Art of Living during Navaratri, Shivaratri, Gurudev’s birthday, among others.

The novel Corona virus affected our behavioural patterns immensely and technology willy-nilly invaded our lives. So, this was the genesis of the book “Festivals: A Ray of Hope”.  It was an attempt to connect with various authors who write in both English and Hindi. The English portion was edited by my wife Lakshmi Valluri and the Hindi segment by Ms. Ritu Bhatnagar.

It was an amazing moment when at Gurudev’s place of birth – Papanasam in Tamil Nadu, I could present him with a copy of the book.

The Literature Times: In addition to writing, you are actively involved in counseling addicts and conducting sessions on happiness and meditation. How does this work influence your writing, if at all?

Ravi Valluri: Certainly, I am able to weave stories maintaining strict anonymity of such individuals as addiction is something a person suffers from. They find a place in my non-fictional works. I do not reveal the names, but attempt to narrate the story and it resonates with people suffering from such a pestilence. This has had a two-fold advantage. Those who are suffering contact me even now seeking help and secondly after initial rehabilitation I am able to either conduct Art of Living programmes for them or see that some other faculty member undertakes the course.

The Literature Times: Your articles have been published in various newspapers and magazines, and you have also appeared on television and radio interviews. How do you balance your writing with your other media engagements?

Ravi Valluri:  First and foremost, I attribute this to the practices taught to us in the Art of Living, by practising Yoga, Pranayama and the unique rhythmic breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya. Secondly it is the grace of the Master (rather this should be the first) that I can do multi-tasking.

 I follow a routine, that is for writing and one thing led to another. Once articles and books were published, I was contacted by TV channels (like Doordarshan, ETV, some set up in Kerala) and radio channels (like FM radio, AIR). Also having served Indian Railways in pivotal posts on eight zonal railways enabled to establish contacts for me to appear for shows. Then it is by word of mouth that those who conduct podcasts and Instagram sessions contacted me to talk about my career, writing and Art of Living.

At this juncture, I would certainly like to do a Ted X show.

The Literature Times: Your passion for theater, music, and public speaking has been evident since your school days. How do these interests intersect with your writing, and do they inspire any of your stories or characters?

Ravi Valluri: My foray into theatre, music, public speaking has always been a passion. It provided me with a platform. I would say it led me to establish a bedrock.

Even today my batchmates say that they suffered from such a stage fright, but when they acted in plays that I directed at Railway Staff College when we were Probationary Officers, they could overcome it. Along with my friends we used to write the scripts. So, it helped a lot in fashioning my personality as a writer.

The Literature Times: What can readers expect from “Bombay Review and Other Stories,” and do you have any upcoming projects or future plans for your writing career?

Ravi Valluri: “Bombay Review and Other Stories” has three aspects. One life is neither black or white fully, there are large shades of grey in it. So, one should not be judgemental about a person or an event. Second it is a mirror for us to look into deeply and see ourselves.  Finally at the end of the dark tunnel there is light, there is hope.

Well, I contribute regularly for The Pioneer. Currently we are compiling an anthology on revolutionaries of India (1857 – 1947). I am also writing a novel. Apart from that, me and my wife have launched a website called where established as well as first time authors can contribute articles, essays, poetry, drabbles, artwork, micro tales, book reviews and novellas. 

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