With MerlinWand, kids can be the hero and ace their reading journey. Here's how

Sudarshan Vig, Ramarao Routhu and Neeraj Agarwal joined hands to delight children in a way that only stories can. The cherry on the cake is that children can now decide which way the story goes
Which way will you go? | (Pic: MerlinWand)
Which way will you go? | (Pic: MerlinWand)

How would you like to fight bad guys, save the people and be a hero of your own story? With just a swish and flick of Merlin's wand, this is a real possibility now. We are not referring to the mythical magician Merlin himself, though we are sure they have his choicest blessings for a venture like this, we are talking about MerlinWand, the new venture of Sudarshan Vig, Ramarao Routhu and Neeraj Agarwal. Between them, the trio share oodles of experience in art, IT, publishing and design and they are making a statement. "Growing up, there is so much emphasis on STEM, which is fine but it needs to be balanced with art or literature which often leads to innovation in STEM," says Sudarshan Vig.

Poster of the launch

Here's the idea: Get on to their website, choose one of the three avatars for yourself and a plot too. As the story unravels, you get to choose how the plot thickens and actually decide the trajectory of the story. In this way, you become the hero and save the day but on your own terms. This story is presented in the form of a digital book and if the story is to your liking, you can print and keep the story forever. Reading, that's the whole point of this venture. "Growing up, I would play a lot of RPGs (role playing games). Based on certain decisions made during the course of the game, everything changes. These books, aimed at children aged 14 years and under, are based on the same concept," says the art evangelist. These stories will be available from September 26, which is their launch date. FYI, artist Ratna Pathak Shah is one of the many literati who is going to virtually set the ball rolling for these splendid stories. A panel discussion with fitness expert at CureFit Shwetambari Shetty, journalist Shabnam Minwalla and actor Suresh Menon will be held on September 26 along with a comedy segment featuring Cyrus Broacha and Kunal Vijayakar.

Sudarshan, CEO of MerlinWand, calls Neeraj Agarwal the biggest nerd who is responsible for their interactive website and the design expert is Ramarao Routhu

Since April 2021, the three musketeers have been vigorously working on this idea and they will launch with three plots with themes like afforestation and climate change. "Kids today are much more sensitive and mature then we give them credit for. One of our stories coming up in the next batch is about an alien whose planet has been destroyed who is guiding mortals on Earth to save their planet before it's too late. Another talks intimately about death and loss. These are themes we have chosen very consciously," says Sudarshan who credits his small army of 20 people, including professional authors, dedicated illustrators and a solid IT team, who have made this extensive project come to life.

Sudarshan Vig, Ramarao Routhur and Neeraj Agrawal

You can experience these highly customisable stories on their website and choose which way the story turns and read it all for yourself before deciding to cart it. With another three stories being churned out, they are soon to have an AR feature too. "We bat for reading but we are not tech-phobic. We are using 2tech to build this habit. And no matter what tech we employ, the idea will still be centered around the physical book," says Sudarshan who is known for initiatives like Chota Bioscope and Ka Se Kavita.

So, would you like to be a hero?

One of their illustrations

For more on them check out merlinwand.com

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