Thursday, September 6, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Monday, August 2, 2010
Q) Conceptualising a themed collection of feminist-ghost stories like The Washer of the Dead: A Collection of Short Stories must have been a brainstorm of an experience. Could you take us through the thought process behind this?
A) There wasn’t any constructed thought – but there was a lot of emotion. Every single day you open the paper and read about what is being unleashed on women – honour killings, beatings, death by stoning... it’s terrifying. I would feel so helpless in the face of the misery of millions. The book came out of that anger and frustration. I wanted to make people think a bit. The best way to do that was to use a main stream genre like the ghost story to present a very feminist point of view.
Q) Share with us what you think makes your latest book SOAP! Writing and Surviving Television topical.
A) When I first suggested the book to my publisher they asked me ‘Hasn’t it already been written?’ For an industry that is over 60 years old you would imagine that some training books would exist. But not even one does. So this is a book that is long overdue; both for the industry and for writers in other media who want a basic solid grounding in the rules of writing. I think the book fills a tremendous gap.
Q) Name your favourite books and what makes them your favourites. Also what you are reading now?
A) My all time favourite is Rudyard Kiplings Kim. With every re-reading I discover more depths to the metaphor of the journey. I love Kazuo Ishiguro, every single one of his books. My guru is Joseph Campbell and all his work on myth and the creative process. Every writer who wants to know about the roots of storytelling should read Campbell. Right now I am reading the Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. It is supposed to be a children’s series, but it is far and away the most exciting read I have had all year. I am also laboriously ploughing my way thorough the 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act. We are battling to keep mega projects out of my little village and one way to do that is to know the rights and powers of the Panchayat and speak up at the Gram Sabha.
Q) What is your favourite literary device and why?
A) If we are talking books, then it is the first person narrative. Sitting at your keyboard you can become someone else and speak up in their tones. It’s wonderful!
If we are talking television, it has to be the intercut. That allows you to keep two or three stories running at the same time, building each to a crescendo. Absolutely wonderful for keeping the action moving on various fronts. Fantastic for creating lots of excitement on a very small budget.
Q) What is the way ahead for you as a writer?
A) I’m working on a book called The Block Buster Book – How to Bust those Blocks and Write that Great Film. Nobody yet has focused on the Hindi film formula. Our films are unique in the way that they use song and dance and emotion. This book will try and teach the essence of a commercial Hindi film. Also in the works is a book called The Single Woman’s Handbook to Love, Sex and Everything. It’s an attempt to create a support system for women in a book. It contains the essence of the wisdom of the sisterhood - all those wonderful women who taught me, advised me, and supported me.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Having South Indian roots, Sneha can never explain the feeling when she is amidst a lane in Matunga in Mumbai, thinking she is in a mini lane of a snippet from Tamil Nadu. It is simple, yet complicated to understand. She wonders if she shares the same feeling with writer Anita Nair about her strong sense of belonging. In an interview with Anita Nair, Sneha Subramanian Kanta discusses Kerala, feminism, the Indian woman and more...
Q) There is a pre occupation with Kerala in a major part of your works. I'm sure part of it comes from your upbringing in the Southern locale. I remember reading an interview of yours where you have mentioned that it stuck you when seeing the traditional dance form Kathakali to explore more about the colorful art, particularly in Mistress. Even your debut novel The Better Man uses Kerala extensively. Comment.
A) I have very strong roots in Kerala. My family goes back at least by 400 years in the village where my parents still live. When I am away from there, there is a strange yearning I feel for the place. Yet I wouldn’t really call it nostalgia as much as trying to put into words that uniquely composite feeling that Kerala evokes in me… I wish I could tell you why Kerala inspires me as it does. All I do know is it does again and again. It is maddening to know that whatever it is defies description… perhaps it is the sum total of the colours, the scents, the landscape, the people, their cussedness and humour, the petty politics and the larger than life ideals…just when you think you have understood some facet of Kerala, it contradicts itself. Perhaps that is what makes it so exciting for me as a writer…
Q) Ladies Coupe as a novel depicts the tales of many women interwoven in the experience of one. You portray her as always fulfilling one role or the other like the daughter, the sister, the aunt and so on. Let me ask you – do you think a woman can be really emancipated from all her roles regardless of whether she is married or not?
A) I don’t believe a woman’s emancipation is tied to the roles she has to play in life. In fact a wife/mother represent only a facet of a woman in a relationship. However even as a single woman she is still sister, daughter, aunt etc. Hence it would be almost impossible for a woman, or for that matter, a man to be completely isolated from relationships.
Q) You have always maintained for most of the part that feminism is about making choices rather than prejudging what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ as the two terms are very subjective. Perhaps women find little nudges of escape when their husbands are away at work and they can connect with themselves. What is feminism for you especially in the Indian context?
A) To me, feminism in the Indian context is about recognizing the importance of the female self and to be able to nurture it. Very often, we Indian women tend to negate ourselves as something that is expected of us. In fact, there may be no pressure at all from extraneous sources for us to do so. Perhaps it is conditioning or perhaps it is lack of self esteem, we do not consider ourselves important enough and so we tend to put our needs and desires on the back burner. This is what needs to be addressed. And this to me is what feminism ought to tackle.
Q) That said, in all one reads of you, you have never proclaimed yourself a feminist.
A) Even since Ladies Coupe, I have been referred to as a feminist writer and I have vehemently opposed this for these reasons. One, I do not set out to write what I write with the notion of ushering in change. The creative process begins for me when certain aspects of life trouble me. I then try and explore why it the way it is. But in doing so I merely hold up a mirror to the society we live in. At no point do I delude myself that by doing so I will help start a social revolution. It isn’t my intention in the first place.
Secondly, while several women’s issues are close to my heart, I find I am unable to agree with everything that feminist theories propound. And hence to identify myself with something that I do not completely endorse would be wrong and unethical.
And finally as a writer what may interest me with one book may not matter to me when I am working on another book. Hence to bind myself to a particular ideology or writing would mean gagging my thoughts and limiting my boundaries. While I may return to female centric storylines, I am not sure that this is all I would ever write. Perhaps by my failing to identify as a feminist, I am playing safe. But I believe that I owe it to the writer in me to be unfettered.
If I was a feminist writer, my work would dwell almost exclusively on women’s issues. However my concerns and interests straddle several areas and all of these make an appearance in my novels.
Q) How was writing Malabar Mind, your first collection of poetry? Poetry as a genre can be more demanding.
A) It is the lot of the poet to be admired whereas the novelist is actually read and their works engaged with. I believe that both forms have equal weightage. However not all poets can be novelist and vice versa. Simply because poetry by nature looks inwards whereas the novel tends to dwell in the world outside.
Malabar Mind is actually a collection of poetry written over a decade. In that sense I don’t really have a different writing style or experiences to classify how the writing of fiction is different from that of poetry. I am not a poet who works on poetry on a consistent basis. Very often the poetry I write is triggered by either an intensely emotional experience or an occurrence that has shaken me to the core. To that effect my poetry occurs as a flash whereas my novels are the result of much thought, pondering and intense research.
Q) What do you think of the scenario of Indian Writing in English today? Do you believe that we Indians as writers bring a new ‘Indianness’ in English in terms of the syntax, treatment of themes and so on?
A) I don't think it is simple to be a writer anywhere in the world. Even more so in India when you are writing in English. On the one hand you are not aware of who your reader is. On the other hand, you come under so much scrutiny and it is almost as if everyone is out to catch you when you make that first mistake. Fortunately, what used to be once an urban readership is now expanding to small towns and as more people read this will be a readership that will sustain the Indian writer writing in English.
It seems to me that on the one hand Indian writing in English has certainly come of age. Indian writers writing in English are being recognized and even revered. However, it is also weighed down by mediocrity. A mediocrity that stems itself from the fact that anyone who can string a pretty phrase believes that is all is required to write a book.
Q) How has the transition from working in an advertising agency to becoming a full fledged writer been?
A) I began writing at a very young age. However it was while working at an advertising agency that I decided to become a full time writer. My forays into creative writing began with short stories, and slowly I moved on to writing novels. I think writing was initially an interest for me, but later it became a serious compulsion. My stint in advertising helped immensely. It helped me craft my writing to the extent that I learnt to edit the flab out. Apart from which advertising is a great apprenticeship for a writer.
First, I got used to rejection. Out of every ten brilliant campaigns, one sees the light of the day. So what are a few rejection slips? Secondly, I learnt to curb my temper when someone mauled my precious lines. Just about everyone in an ad agency from the tea boy to the CEO; and outside it, from the client’s grandmother to his daughter’s dance teacher have a point of view about the campaign and specifically the copy. So one accepts editing more easily than perhaps a writer who has been a dog trainer. And finally, as an advertising writer has concocted enough rhetorical overstatements for middling products he or she will seldom be a victim of any hype…
Q) What are your upcoming projects?
A)I am translating a famous Malayalam novel. I will also be working on a historical novel set in medieval Kerala.
Q) Lastly, leave us with a loved quote – it can be a scene from your novel or a line from your poetry which is close to your heart. Being a writer, I’m sure you will have many, but give us any one.
A) ‘Meera thinks of her favourite fruit: the pomegranate. Of how she savours it best when she eats it seed by seed rather than as a handful thrown into her mouth. She will take a cue from that. Of how resurrection is to be fashioned one day at a time.’
[page 325 Lessons in Forgetting]
Friday, July 16, 2010
There have been a few suggestions from you for monthly quiz or Meenakshi K has called them "creative experiments". We could post them on the blog and let consensus have their say. What do you say?
Kindly divert here once in a while from the HR blog. You need them to get you the job and us to sustain it. :)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
THIS IS DHVANI EZINE'S OFFICIAL BLOG
For details regarding the contest, visit http://wordweavers.dhvani.co.in
Please feel free to add your comments, queries or feedback.
Thank you for your interest in the contest. The contest is in running for the second year.
Submisions for the year 2010 begin on January 1st till January 31st, 2010 and not a day before or later. And we are generous enough to announce it this early! The results will be announced on March 1, 2010 on Dhvani's Second Anniversary.
There are 3 sections of the Contest. You can send not more than 3 entries in each section. The word limit will be adhered to very strictly.
1) Poetry: poems of not more than 20 lines with title.
2) Flash Fiction: story not more than 500 words with title.
3) Short Story: story not more than 3000 words with title.
Please read the following before submitting your work to us.
Submission of your work tells us that you've read this, agree with it, and still want us to publish your work.
Contestant must be a citizen of India, residing in India.
Please understand that we reserve the right to accept or reject your work. Several factors are considered in our final decision whether or not to include your work in our publication, including the message, the method by which it's conveyed, the style, and how much of it works when combined.
Contestant should be above the age of 15, having completed 15.
Please mail a scanned copy as a photo identity, could be a passport or your college ID.
- Your work must be your own, original, unaided work. Kindly avoid any Copyright hassles.
- All the entries must be in English only.
- There is no entry fee for the Contest.
- Your original work must be submitted by email and received by the deadline posted on the page to be considered for the contest.
- Please send each entry as a separate attachment in one email. Send the attachment as a Word file with Times New Roman font size 12.
- The work can either be published or unpublished. In case it is published please mention the name of the magazine or the publisher.
- The vouchers cannot be redeemed for a cash prize and will be issued only in the name of the winner as sent for the contest.
- The winning entries will remain in the Wordweavers Section of Dhvani till March 2010.
- Please type your FULL name along with your qualification and occupation (if applicable.) Eg. Mira Naik, student, MA Eng Literature/ Prof of English Xaviers College, Mumbai.