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Greatest Indian Novels: Interview with Kiran Nagarkar

Greatest Indian Novels: Interview with Kiran Nagarkar

brunch Updated: Jun 21, 2014 20:31 IST
Saudamini Jain

Which novel is more important to you: Cuckold or Ravan and Eddie?
I think neither is more important or both are exactly as important. One is a serious book like Cuckold. But I think humour can be just as, if not more, serious.I don't have children of my own. So in that sense, Ravan and Eddie are my children. I really can't decide.

How long did it take to write Cuckold?
It took the shortest time - three years, while I was working. I really am not responsible. I've never worked the way I worked with Cuckold. I'm always claiming that I didn't write Cuckold. I was just the medium.

So how did you write it?
I'm crazy about films. I hardly watch them now. But in those days, I used to come here for film festivals - the Delhi film festival - and I was sitting with a friend in an auto and it suddenly occurred to me, this is perhaps the most well-known woman in India and not a thing is know about her husband. So then what happened to history? Meera was a person I could not even bear to pronounce her name. She put me off no end. You're surrounded by certain expected facts and she was a cliché, a stereotype... take [the way she is depicted, for example, in] all the calendar art, the postcards. The book was an absolute lesson to me: I had bought into all of that instead of looking at the woman... She decided she did not want to leave me.

Is writing as easy or as difficult in Marathi as in English?
Oh yes. Only the first four years of my life I studied Marathi, so I don't have the burden of tradition there, which is a very very difficult thing to cope with. It must have taken, I don't know if I was absolutely blind or just beyond rash imagination that I had the gall to sit down and write.
One of the best things that happened to me was that I wrote my first novel in Marathi.

Do you have any regrets?
Do you know, after I wrote my play [Bedtime Story, 1978] and I got into terrible trouble - for fifteen years I did not write. This is not a sad story. This is a real shit story. Not to write for 15 years! I don't know how to make myself pay for that folly.

So are you working on anything now?
There is no book till its published, no? The problem is I'm not too well. But anything is a good excuse not to work, And you'll be surprised how time consuming laziness is.

From HT Brunch, June 22

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