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In conversation with Mrinal Pandey

Mrinal brings to life the great historic event of the mid nineteenth century, the Sepoy Mutiny. Aditi Caroli reports.

books Updated: Apr 15, 2011 12:40 IST

Author, editor and anchor Mrinal Pandey comes across as a soft-spoken but captivating person. In an intriguing translation of

1857: The Real Story of the Great Uprising

, she brings to life the great historic event of the mid nineteenth century, the Sepoy Mutiny.

1857 is a first person, eyewitness account of Vishnu Bhatt Godshe Versaikar about the historic Sepoy Mutiny. He travelled across Indo-Gangetic plains between 1856 and 1859. But due to the fear of reprisals by the British, he wrote this travelogue 24 years later and the book was published four years after his death in 1907.

A Padmashree award winner, Mrinal has a versatile personality, "I enjoy writing the most, both fiction and non-fiction. This is the first time I have translated a book and I wasn't sure how well will I do. But this book itself attracted me, so I took up this task."

Talking about the translation, she says, "This is a story of a young Brahmin (Vishnu Bhatt) belonging to a village in the Raigarh district in Maharastra. He was poor and had very little land, which he raised with his uncles and brothers. There wasn't enough money and they had incurred a lot of debt. So to pay off the debt, he decided to go to north with his aged uncle to earn some money. At that time, several Maratha princes were ruling in Gwalior, Jhansi, Mathura and Kanpur. So he decided to perform religious ritual and make some money."

So how did Vishnu become a part of the Mutiny? "When they (Vishnu and his uncle) came up north, Mutiny had already started. One thing led to another and they got involved in the Mutiny. It's basically a travelogue, which depicts with great clarity about what happened to Jhansi Ki Rani and the terrible reprises that Jhansi suffered," informs the author.

From all her experiences, Mrinal concludes "Caste system is not so much rooted in untouchability but birth and marriage."