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‘A writer can build only half a bridge’

By Tishani Doshi

Kiran Nagarkar is an author who generates an extreme level of devotion among his fans. Some, including the author himself, would say that there aren’t enough of them, but if a fan-o-meter were somehow employed, his followers would surely win top prizes for fervency. His play Bedtime Story and first novel Saat Sakkam Trechalis, (republished in English as Seven Sixes are Forty Three) are both landmarks in Marathi literature.

Of his Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel Cuckold, Nagarkar says he takes no credit. It was an inspired piece of writing where he was just the “third rate secretary.” Nayantara Sahgal has described his Ravan & Eddie trilogy as India’s fourth great epic, after the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the struggle for freedom under M.K. Gandhi. In person Nagarkar is tall and gregarious, prone to self-deprecation and chuckling. Excerpts from an interview.

What kind of home did you grow up in?

I grew up in a poor family but that was because my grandfather died early. So my father had to educate his seven or eight brothers and sisters. I’d always known that my grandfather was a Brahmo Samaji but it’s now coming to light that he went (to America) with Vivekananda in 1893 and 1903. Obviously, he did not make the kind of impact that Vivekanandaji made.

But it’s curious, a friend of mine did some research, and found that my grandfather was asking for independence of India in 1893, at a time when neither Gandhiji or anyone else was asking for it. Read more

Source: The Hindu


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Nation’s diversity is under attack: Writer Nayantara Sahgal at Chandigarh litfest

Borrowing from Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s notion of the human race, noted writer Nayantara Sahgal said India was home to many cultures, races and lifestyle, hence producing a civilisation from where their writing comes. “It is this diversity that is under attack and not merely a group of writers,” said the irrepressible Sahgal, who returned the Sahitya Akademi award last year.

During a panel discussion on ‘Freedom and The Writer’ on the opening day of the Chandigarh Literature Festival 2016, at the Chandigarh Club, Sahgal, niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, said there was an attempt to make writers a monochrome of sorts.

The panel included novelistbplaywright and film critic Kiran Nagarkar; Mumbai Mirror editor Meenal Baghel and was moderated by Harper Collins chief editor VK Karthika.

Speaking against the mob rule against her clan, she cited an incident where students of Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh, protested after two professors were reprimanded for staging play ‘Drapaudi’ that focuses on the plight of an Adivasi woman who suffers at the hand of the state and the army.

“This needs to stop happening in the name of ‘nationalism’,” lamented Sahgal, to which Karthika asked where was everyone when painter MF Hussain was forced to go into exile and if the community continued to be as ‘passive’ despite realising the implications. Read more

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India: The fifth edition of the Chandigarh Literature Festival begins on a serious note

City Beautiful is doused in the multi-hued colours of literature, courtesy the fifth edition of the Chandigarh Literature Festival (CLF), which kick-started on Thursday. A galaxy of renowned authors, including critically acclaimed authors and proud recipients of Sahitya Akademi Award, Kiran Nagarkar and Nayantara Sahgal, have come calling to city, as part of the fest organised by Adab Foundation, to light up the embers of love for literature in the hearts of the not-so-voracious readers and to exchange meaningful ideas with the ones already hooked to their works.

The highlight of the inaugural day of CLF 2016 was the presentation of Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in literature to one of postcolonial India’s most significant writers – Kiran Nagarkar. The celebrated author, whose work Cuckold soon found its place among one of India’s most beloved contemporary Indian novels, observed, “I am overjoyed after receiving the honour from Adab Foundation. The festival (CLF) has brought Chandigarh on the National literary map.”

The award ceremony was soon followed by a panel discussion on an intriguing subject—‘Freedom and the writer,’ which saw the participation of Karthika V.K., Kiran Nagarkar, Meenal Baghel and Nayantara Sahgal. Read more

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Tata Literature Live festival: Talks, performances to feast on from November 17

Over 130 writers and thinkers like John Gray, Amitav Ghosh, Simon Armitage and former finance minister, P Chidambaram will be a part of the seventh edition of the Tata Literature Live! festival from November 17-20.

The festival will be held at two venues — the NCPA and Prithvi Theatre. Those listed for this edition include Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient; Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic poem The Odyssey; former minister and writer, Jairam Ramesh, Girish Karnad, Keki Daruwalla, Kiran Nagarkar and Jayant Narlikar, besides Gulzar and Karan Johar. Read more

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‘The author can only build half a bridge’: Kiran Nagarkar

One of India’s most prolific postcolonial writers on the challenges of penning regional literature: DNA

Kiran NagarkarMost authors wouldn’t stop talking about their work if it had turned 40 and was still up there considered as a milestone in literature. But then novelist, playwright, film and drama critic and screenwriter Kiran Nagarkar has always been different.

Despite being celebrated as one of the most significant writers of post-colonial India, he resorts to self-effacing sarcasm when asked to react to his first book Saat Sakkam Trechalis (SST) turning 40. “The Guinness Book record-worthy success of Saat Saakam Trechalis (Seven Sixes Are Forty-Three), which sold a record 1,000 copies is what comes to mind,” laughs the septuagenarian Mumbai resident whose books are a target of ideological critique due to the hybrid nature of his version of postcolonialism, involving irreverence alongside seriousness.

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3-day literature fest to feature English, Marathi writers

More than 50 established and budding authors will participate in the Pune International Literary Festival (PILF) which will be held between September 20 and 22.

The literary festival which will be hosted at the Kothrud-campus of MAEER’s MIT Group of Institutions, is being organized by two Pune-based authors, Manjiri Prabhu and Sonja Chandrachud.

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Book Review: ‘The Extras’

From constables to Helen (yes, the vamp extraordinaire of old Bollywood), all sorts of people pop up in the second part of the rollercoaster ride of Ravan and Eddie’s lives. The characters in The Extras, Kiran Nagarkar’s sequel to his 1995 novel Ravan & Eddie, are a collection of oddities particular to Mumbai and the author describes them all perfectly. Each person has a distinct voice, crafted out of the way Nagarkar makes them use the English language. While The Extras isn’t as biting as Ravan & Eddie, the novel is fun because of the storytelling. Rather than being realistic and logical, everything in The Extrasseems to be tilted towards the absurd. For better and for worse, that seems to sum up life in Mumbai both in reality and fiction.

Ravan (actually Ram) Pawar and Eddie Coutinho still live in the same chawl but are now young men who must make a living in Mumbai. After some detours, including encounters with a nymphomaniac, a gangster and the police, Ravan ends up driving a taxi while Eddie works as a mechanic. Both of them also go to the same acting class and join the crowd of hopefuls that want a break in the movies. After a few months, without consulting one another, both Ravan and Eddie adjust their ambitions and try to get jobs as extras, rather than cling to hopes of being noticed as potential heroes. Their first assignment has them shimmying with Helen. But life and Bollywood being what it is, there are still numerous obstacles in Ravan and Eddie’s paths. However, it seems there’s a spotlight (and a soundtrack) at the end of the tunnel.

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