U.R.Ananthamurthy, 1932 - 2014

#1 Aug 23rd, 2014, 02:48
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  • greenears is offline
#1
The great Kannada novelist and short-story writer died today. He was 82.

His novels Samskara and Bharathipura are still giving, to the reader, years after first reading them. Short stories such as Ghatashraddha, Mouni...

He wrote in Kannada and was translated superbly into English, by Susheela Punitha and others. Reading these translations made me feel, never so deeply and truly, that English too was an Indian language.

Rest in peace, sir.
#2 Aug 23rd, 2014, 03:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenears View Post He wrote in Kannada and was translated superbly into English, by Susheela Punitha and others. Reading these translations made me feel, never so deeply and truly, that English too was an Indian language.
I presume this was the translation of Samskara that was serialized in the Illustrated Weekly of India in the 1970s. In his book India: A Wounded Civilization, V.S. Naipaul mentions reading this serialization and is full of praise for it. He was never so enthusiastic about another writer's work.

I watched the film with Girish Karnad when it was shown at the Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi just after it had won the President's Gold Medal. They didn't have subtitles in those days but luckily I had a simultaneous translator next to me who was whispering into my ear.
#3 Aug 23rd, 2014, 04:29
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Very interesting Golghar, thanks for sharing. I am not certain but it is likely that it is the same translation, by A.K.Ramanujan.
#4 Aug 31st, 2014, 20:50
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Spent a couple of hours going through all the obituaries on Ananthamurthy with the mandatory references to Samskara and Modi. A couple - thankfully, only a couple - mention Naipaul. No disrespect to Naipaul, but I've read one book by him and one by Ananthamurthy and it's the latter that has stayed with me.

I read Samskara rather late in life - around four years ago. It was one of those books one had heard about but dismissed as probably yet another sociological tract masquerading as literature; yet amusingly, possibly interesting, because of the mixture of shock and awe and grudging respect that it seemed to evoke in the brahminical parents. On hindsight, if I'd read it in my teens or college years, it'd have been another on the list of 'radical' books, swiftly read and forgotten as swiftly.

Reading it in a post-liberalisation, post-babri masjid, post-gujarat India, I walked around in a daze for a few days - it was not just the shock of encounter with a truly radical piece of work that showed up one's shallow and limited world, it was the electrifying realisation that literature is not literature if it doesn't speak of moral struggle and transformation.

Some very moving pieces by Shiv Vishwanathan, Ram Guha, Suketu Mehta have appeared in the press. And many vicious attacks - he wouldn't be a great writer if there were no detractors. One ridiculous piece by a member of the saffron brigade talks about the 'irony' of the Vedic rites at his funeral. But in Ananthamurthy's own words quoted by Ramachandra Guha, "Saffron is such a beautiful colour..why should we cede it so easily to a bunch of bigots?" What would remain of India if we ceded Hinduism and Buddhism and Jainism and Islam? They can give him a ticket to Pakistan, but he will remain a Hindu in the best sense of the term.

Looking forward to reading Bharatipura, which I hear is an even greater achievement than Samskara.
#5 Sep 1st, 2014, 03:36
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'Samskara' was a subliminal read for me when I was in my 20s and has stayed with me since. It was radical but is also a novel of affirmation and deep understanding of societal dynamics. I had not heard of 'Bharatipura' and look forward to picking up a copy. Thanks for the heads up.

Don't dismiss Naipaul so easily. He writes with passion and verve and though you may not agree with him, he provokes thoughtfulness. He himself confessed to growing up between writing 'An Area of Darkness' (I was 17 when I read that first time and was mad at him) and 'India: A Wounded Civilisation' (which I read in my 30s).
#6 Sep 1st, 2014, 13:22
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I didn't mean to be dismissive, not very much - I read A House for Mr. Biswas many years ago and liked it, although it didn't affect me the way Samskara did. Probably it will read differently now. I never got around to reading more of Naipaul and later, the stuff I read about him and his often obnoxious public persona kept me away from his work, which was my loss entirely, I'm sure.

I was surprised that some of the articles thought this worthy of mention - the fact that Naipaul had commented on it - because it reveals our obsession with celebrity, with the authors thought worthy of celebration usually being those who write in English or those whose writing is 'universal'. It reminds me of when people suddenly developed an interest in R.K.Narayan because such and such Writer - Graham Greene(one of my favourites), or Jhumpa Lahiri - had said nice things about his work . Whereas just a reading of Swami and Friends or Malgudi Days would have sufficed. Probably what you're telling me about Naipaul.

p.s. I like what greenears said about english too being an indian language - in the case of samskara, we must thank a.k.ramanujan for that.
#7 Sep 2nd, 2014, 03:28
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This week, on 13th September, FD Zone will be screening a film on anantamurthy by Girish Kasaravalli. In case anyone's interested, I've pasted the details of the screening below. they usually screen one of the Films Division newsreels along with a contemporary documentary, which makes for very interesting viewing:

Dear friends,

This week we feature the premiere of Girish Kasaravalli's recently completed feature-length documentary on Sri Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, noted contemporary writer and critic. The film features extensive conversations with the scholar himself, along with enactments and readings from his landmarks literary works and interviews with contemporary writers and intellectuals.

With this film "Ananthamurhty: Not a Biography, but a Hypothesis" we mark our tribute to Sri Ananthamurthy who passed away two weeks ago.

We will screen this film with a newsreel from 1976, reflecting the events of this very week, the first week of September, 38 years ago, in an attempt to study the elements of continuity and change, through occasions like Teachers' Day and Ganesh Chaturthi. It is interesting for us as practitioners to reflect on news events from another time and look at contemporary media practice.


Programme

INDIAN NEWS REVIEW NO. 1457
English, B/W, 35mm, 10 min, 1976

Teachers' Day: 5th September, the birthday of Dr Radhakrishnan, the nation pays tribute to its teachers.

Safe Return: A relief aircraft brings home to Delhi all the 84 passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines Boeing 737. It was hijacked to Lahore on 10th September while on its flight from Delhi to Bombay.

Mao-Tse-Tung Dead: Chinese leader passes away at the age of 82. Prime Minister signs the condolence register at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.

Ganesh Chaturthi: Mela in Uttar Pradesh. Bombay - Visarjan ceremony.

Family Planning in Other Lands: Like many other countries this Arab Republic is also concerned about its
rising population.

Regional News (West): Housing colony in Gujarat and betterment of hut-dwellers in Maharashtra.


ANANTHAMURTHY:
NOT A BIOGRAPHY, BUT A HYPOTHESIS

Kannada and English, Colour, HD video, 75 min, 2014

Director: Girish Kasaravalli
Producer: VS Kundu, Films Division
Director of Photography: G.S. Bhaskar, ISC
Subject Consultant: N. Manu Chakravarthy
Editor: Mohan Kamakshi
Music: Bindu Malini
Sound: Gokul Abhishek

Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy, renowned Kannada writer and winner of the Jnanapeeth Award, was a thinker of international repute, also widely recognized for his social activism. This film foregrounds the vision of his fiction and his reflections on Gandhian thought, socialism and diverse cultural issues that are explicated by critics and thinkers who have been interacting with him for several decades.


Date and time:
6th September 2014, 4 pm

Venue:
RR II Theater
6th floor
Phase II Building
Films Division
Pedder Road
Mumbai

All screenings at The FD Zone are free and open to all.
Entry is on first come first served basis.

Programme for 13th September:
Premiere screening of "Khayyam Ki Sangeet Yatra"
Directed by Suresh Sharma and produced by Films Division.

Regards,
"THE fd ZONE" team
#8 Sep 2nd, 2014, 04:10
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As for Naipaul - try Mr. Stone and the Knights Companion!

http://www.indiamike.com/india/chai-...4/#post1620186
#9 Sep 2nd, 2014, 06:50
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Wow @ doksanomo - that's a great itinerary and I will be at the Films Division Zone by 2pm on 6rh September just to get a viewing! Thank you.

I may even be at the Khaiyyam do on the 13th as I am a HUGE fan of his music.
#10 Sep 2nd, 2014, 09:20
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Thanks Golghar.

Vishwa, they've been holding regular screenings for over a year now, so if you're interested in documentaries you could subscribe to their mailing list. I'm usually too lazy to go all the way to town, but I'll try to make it for this one.
#11 Sep 2nd, 2014, 12:48
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If I don't go into town at least twice a week I feel as though I am neglecting and not cherishing my Bombay!
#12 Sep 3rd, 2014, 03:09
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Originally Posted by ViShVa View Post I may even be at the Khaiyyam do on the 13th as I am a HUGE fan of his music.
Will this be on the programme?

http://www.indiamike.com/india/books...2/#post1418094
#13 Sep 3rd, 2014, 11:36
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#13
FULLY HUMAN


I first met U.R. Ananthamurthy in 2001, at a literary festival in a small town in south-western France, Villeneuve-sur-Lot. It was a festival with an Indian focus, so there were several Indian writers gathered there: Nirmal Verma, Allan Sealy, Amitav Ghosh, Ambai and many others.

At the inaugural event, the organizers designated Amitav Ghosh as their chief guest and asked him to say a few words. Embarrassed at being singled out in this way, Amitav disclaimed any pre-eminence in the presence of writers as distinguished as Ananthamurthy and Verma. Pleased by Amitavís sense of propriety, Ananthamurthy made a gesture of his own: when it was his turn to speak, he said, smiling, that Amitav had, as a well-bred Indian, simply deferred to seniority.

Ananthamurthy lived for conversation and he listened as intently as he spoke.





:brishti

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