Sunday, July 25, 2010

‘There are many whose careers ended because of Shivaji’

At his novel launch, author Bhalchandra Nemade was at his acerbic best

From Aurangazeb to James Laine there are many whose careers ended because of Shivaji Maharaj,” remarked maverick author Bhalchandra Nemade at the release of his quartet novel Hindu.

He was responding to a question on the controversial book Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India which has raised many hackles. “Laine has been forced to abandon his research as he cannot come back to Maharashtra,” said the author who in his signature style, took on “the rabid right.”

“Destroying our own property because we are angry with someone abroad doesn’t come across as too intelligent,” he advised and added, “We need to work on our intolerance.”

While attacking the right wing for its anti-Muslim bias he said, “Vinayak Sawarkar too was in favour of Pakistan.” When a member of the audience asked him to qualify his statement, he said, “Come for my lectures and we’ll talk.”

Stalwarts like Mahesh Elkunchwar say Nemade, “changed the face of the Marathi novel with his first book Kosla (Cocoon).” He has been working on his seminal novel from 1973. The first part was released today. The story begins with the origins of Hindu religion from pre-Harappan times and moves on to the present day. According to Nemade, his research showed how literature had been tampered with, and later, history too, to suit the interest of Brahmins.

Excerpts from his unpublished have appeared in a few Marathi magazines. Ravindra Natya Mandir was packed with who’s who from the world of literature, theatre and cinema and the first print has already sold out.

While his critical works are in English, Nemade’s creative work in fiction is only in Marathi. This Sahitya Akademi awardee has taught English and comparative literature, linguistics, anthropology and Marathi literature in various universities, colleges and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London.

Born in 1938 in a village in the Satpudas, north Maharashtra, Nemade’s first exposure to literature was in the folk-tribal tradition. Exposure to what he calls “Anglicised culture” during his college stint in Pune greatly annoyed him and was expressed in his poems. Nemade’s own experience becomes the experience of Pandurang Sangvikar (the hero of Kosla) who epitomises the fate of “many village boys who end up half frustrated, half degenerated in the face of a sudden “modern” set of values.” Nemade always equated this with a loss of culture in India, which is his essential argument in Desivad.

Ref: Mumbai Mirror

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