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Saturday, October 12, 2013


The Curious Reader
Twenty Questions to Ashokamitran

    A postal interview with a writer?!!!
How's that idea? Ya, I was struck by such an idea when i wanted to have more of the writer Ashokamitran who brought the life and people of Gemini Studios before us with such vivid narrative in his book, MY YEARS WITH THE BOSS. I started collecting questions from students, friends and colleagues. I was able to collect Twenty questions for the writer. I knew that flying to Chennai and interviewing the writer has lots of practical and logistic(!!)constraints. So, i wrote a letter to the writer attaching these questions seeking his response. I gave a title to the interview, "THE CURIOUS READER:Twenty questions to Ashokamitran".  

Asokamitran’s response came on 12.12.2010. My jaw dropped when i found the envelope waiting, a shaky hand has penned in hurry his unfaltering thoughts on dull sheets of paper . 
Sir, thank you for taking pains to respond.

Here are the answers from him to the questions asked. He wrote:

Chennai, 04.12.2010
Dear friend,
Here are the answers to all your questions. Writing is best when it is for your own desire to create a cogent, intelligible piece. If it gets to be shared by a few others, well and good. But you can’t set a goal to yourself in writng. To be able to enjoy a well-written, engaging book or story is a piece of good fortune.
Yours sincerely,
I am not well at all.


1)      How did your upbringing/family ties catalyze your writing skills?
Family ties may make one reflect more intensely. But they have no direct link with the skill a child develops. Writing is not a lucrative profession or calling.
2)      At what point of time in the course of your writing did you experience total satisfaction?
Total satisfaction is an abstraction. With my own writing that eludes me. But one is happy that he records certain things to show with an impersonal readership.
3)      A story is normally woven around the yarns of a real life experience. How about your works?
All my stories are woven around either personal or well-known experiences.
4)      What factors in your work made you feel that they constitute the ingredients of a good story?
Credibility and interestingness. Credibility within the confines of your creative piece.

1)      Have you faced identity crisis or writer’s block?
There are moments of depression. But that shouldn’t be called crisis. We are human beings and are vulnerable to many personal or external forces.
2)      What makes you write?
There is a certain joy and sense of freedom when you write.


1)      You worked in a film studio for such long years and probably got an opportunity to know about the nuances of film making. How is that you never wanted to be an actor or director or script writer? Or is it that you were never fascinated by these things?
I like watching performances but I have enjoyed the written work from which the performances arise. This can vary from person to person.

2)      The filmdom is a make believe world, an unreal world full of artificialities and illusion. But at the same time film making is a serious affair and the final product the film touches the human heart. What are your feelings when you were in the studio and now? Did the work in the studio make you a philosopher?
There are serious people and frivolous people in every walk of life. Film stars need to be glamorous. Big strain. We have instances of cobblers, potters leaving great philosophers and saints.

3)      What would you like to be if you were to start all over again?


1)      Do you think that literature must lead (the reader/the writer) to spirituality?
Literature is not a must to spirituality. Great masters have always looked at literary men with reservation.
2)      What do you have to say about god, religion and spirituality?
A holy man is any day a more dependable human being than one who says he is not. Here again, nothing is a must.
3)      Do you think that writing is a way of unburdening oneself?
Writing is not a method of unburdening. That is escapism.
4)      What is the most painful thing about writing?
The physical act of writing. It takes one at least 100 more times than a thought in your head. So you are bound to lose quite a lot.
5)      Are there any stages to writing as far as you are concerned? If so, which is the most exciting stage?
With practice, you write more efficiently. But that may not be better writing. The love writing does in your head without you being aware of it.
6)      What do you have to say about the Indian writers in English like RK Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and Rabindranath Tagore or Indian writing in English?
Good writers. They wrote at a time when reading attitudes were not favourable to colonial creative work.
7) What are your political affiliations (only if you feel like answering)?
 50 years ago I would have joined Congress. Today I find the party making too many compromises, tampers very much with the citizens’ life.
 Why did you choose to write less in English and more in Tamil?
Tamil comes more natural because I live in a Tamil milieu. That much has to be done in Tamil writing. English has had (in prose) a 400 years’ stand and also the vigour of the American writers.
7)      What is the future of literature in the age of technology?
People will continue to write and read. The form may change.
8)      Which actor in Tamil film industry do you like the most? Why?
For the Tamil films, a savage like man is a hero, at least during the last 20 years.
9)      Any recent Tamil film that inspired you the most.
A mass entertainer, is ‘Badsha’ and ‘Tenali’ that weren’t bad at all.
10)  Any message for the budding writers.  
A matter of choice or priorities, writing as a profession is not lucrative. Can’t even support the writer, let alone his family.

  സന്തോഷ്‌  കാന ഒരു   പൂർവ വിദ്യാർതഥിയും ഇന്ഗ്ലിഷ്  ഡിപാർട്ട്‌ ർമെന്റിന്റെ സുഹൃത്തുമാണ്  - കവിതയും സിനിമയും ബ്ലോഗ്ഗെഴുത്തും  ഇഷ്ടം : ഇപ്പോൾ KV - PG ഇംഗ്ലീഷ്  അധ്യാപകൻ  - നേപ്പാളിൽ  : ബ്ലോഗ്‌ : SOMATMIKA :  


കള്ള വണ്ടി

മദിരാശിക്ക് കള്ളവണ്ടി കയറിയത്രേ
പല താരങ്ങള്‍ക്കും രാശി തെളിഞ്ഞത്.
പയ്യന്നൂര്‍ സ്റ്റേഷനില്‍ ഞാനും ചോദിച്ചു:

"മദിരാശിക്ക്   കള്ളവണ്ടി എത്ര മണിക്കാ ?" !!!

ക്ലാസില്‍ വികാരാവേശത്ത്തോടെ ഞാന്‍ നേതാജിയെ ഉദ്ധരിച്ചു:

"എനിക്ക് രക്തം തരൂ . ഞാന്‍ നിങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം നല്‍കാം".

ഒരു കുട്ടി എഴുന്നേറ്റ് എന്നോട് :

" സാര്‍, അദ്ദേഹം രക്ത ഗ്രൂപ്പ് പറഞ്ഞില്ലല്ലോ ?" !!!

തിരുപ്പതി ക്ഷേത്രത്തില്‍
പോക്കറ്റ്‌ അടിക്കപ്പെട്ട ഞാന്‍ പരാതി ക്യൂ കണ്ട് അമ്പരന്നു.
ദര്‍ശനാര്തികളുടെ   ചെറിയ ക്യൂവില്‍ കയറിക്കൂടി!!!

പള്ളിയില്‍ പാതിരിയില്‍ നിന്ന് അനുഗ്രഹത്തിന്റെ മധുരം നുണയാന്‍
ഞാനും കൂടി.
സംശയിച്ച് അച്ചന്‌ :

"ക്രിസ്ത്യാനി ആണോ ?"

അല്ലെന്നറിഞ്ഞ് മാറിപ്പോകാന്‍ ആങ്ങ്യം.
അച്ചന്റെ തിരിച്ചറിവിന്റെ ബുദ്ധി അപാരം !!!

വാരണാസിയില്‍ ദര്‍ശനത്തിന്‍.
ലോകരക്ഷകന്റെ രക്ഷക്ക് കാവല്‍ പട്ടാളം !!!
അതിശയത്തോടെ വേദനിച്ചു .

                                                                               -സന്തോഷ്‌ കുമാര്‍ കാന   


There is nothing more deceptive than truth. What truth? Whose truth? It is enticing, painful, bitter, sweet or sour, but is hardly known. To know is to understand it from one’s level of understanding and there comes the unavoidable element of subjectivity. Any opinion therefore, is self-dissective. To be born is to be lost. Art, literature and films have been evolving towards this understanding. In fact, the history of literature or art can be called as an evolution from single perspectives to multiple perspectives. It started with a satisfactory and complacent objectivity. So, in stories and films the speaker or the narrator or the writer gained voice over others and other voices were silenced. The readers or the audience were not allowed or expected to question the authenticity or credibility of the narration. The credible singular voice thus ruled over art and literature for years. And that’s very much in tune with the social and family structure. The conventional text   was like the joint family with more characters and singular perspective.The elder of the house dictating terms and the members of the joint family nodding to it without a frown and “they lived happily forever”! Exactly in tune with the disintegration of the joint family system we could see the emergence of Plural voice. The brothers, sisters-in-law etc. raised their voice against an issue which would have been swallowed or pushed aside for maintaining the “structure” of the family, keeping it intact. Now walls threw gaps often and the singular credible voice found it hard to mend them(the dialogue in Frost's Mending Wall). The structure of the text reflected it. Characters spoken about, pushed to the corners raised their voice and exposed the subjectivity of the narrator. The reader by now evolved brought them to lime light, turned others’ eyes and ears to them and they too felt the conviction in their words. The text that was a singular construct collapsed which was termed as DECONSTRUCTION. The text is bound to collapse; the singular voice is bound to lose its volume when the text fails to reflect what life bares. Then came up multiple narratives to percolate into the issue. RASHOMON was one such attempt and the movie VANTAGE POINT. In Malayalam, the film by Shaji.N.Karun, KUTTY SRANK shows a man from the perspectives of many women. In literature, Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS tried to show how truth is not a monolith. Multiple perspectives can be seen in Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Marquez and The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho.  

Is there an objective truth? Truth is elusive. The moment you see an accident, it becomes an opinion that is quite limited to your perception, common sense, intelligence, sensitivity etc.

At a traffic junction, if the traffic police/the centre is the truth, there are four different roads of riders and drivers watching it from four different angles! Or even more!! Multiple narrative/perspective in art and literature is like the traffic junction perceived from different roads and angles each having its own credibility and conviction.
The growing trend, not surprisingly, therefore, is multiple attempts to analyse a single event and for that very reason we don’t have epics nowadays. Literature and art is growing with life. It can’t be otherwise.
--Santhosh kumar kana