Posted On Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 08:51:40 AM
The staple language and literature class in school does not inspire children to hone their skills as budding writers. Literary organisation Akshar Manav, led by Marathi novelist Rajan Khan, has stepped in to fill the lacuna. Under the leadership of Khan, the organisation aims to tap the talents of budding future writers.
|Rajan Khan in a casual banter with children outside his office
at Shukrawar Peth
Over the next six months, Khan will work with students between Classes VIII and X of government and private Marathi schools to inculcate in them a love for literature. Principals of schools have been sounded out to call for a list of interested students who would work with Khan.
The author has picked up the art of diary writing to initiate the children into literature. At the end of this enterprise, the organisation will announce a contest and the best five students will be felicitated. Excerpts from an interview with the author and programme director.
• You are set to teach young school students how to appreciate literature, and have chosen to get started with the art of diary writing. Why is that?
I feel children today are losing the intricacies of language. Their manner of expression has become very technical. Hence, they don’t have a sense of dialogue. Writing a diary gets one into a mode of introspection, which helps them to analyse the world around them.
Diary writing is a personal objective, but they will be told that they are writing it for others. It will help them to think deeply about their routine life. If they do this exercise for six months, they will begin to look at life differently. The key to becoming a good author is to understand language and master the art of telling it to others. I hope diary writing will help develop this ability.
• Why have you chosen to work with this age group?
Adolescence clouds the brain with confusions. It's also an age when children stand to learn a lot as their mind and a myriad of feelings are very active. This is when they also wish to express themselves independently. The personal space of a diary will offer them a chance for out-of-the-box thinking.
• What are your expectations from this project?
The final aim of the course is to ensure that students will choose writing as a career option. After the project is completed a contest will be held. We had made an announcement for the same earlier and have been overwhelmed by the response from other centres.
• Can you name similar initiatives that can be included to encourage a love for literature and language?
We have done much work in this regard. In the past, we have had contests for new writers in the categories of novel, short story, drama and poetry writing in Marathi. The manuscripts have been reviewed by authors of repute. I feel that budding writers have gained from this guidance from us. We are also collecting college periodicals to pick out new talent.
• What ails contemporary Marathi literature?
A generation of writers, who can understand and analyse his/ her surrounding properly, those who have a stable thinking ability is disappearing. We are living fragmented lives which shows in the writing as well.
Every one is expressing themselves in a short and staccato manner. The language has taken on the hue of SMS, Twitter and Facebook. Television and cinema have also contributed to this. This is mostly driven by market forces, which is based on profit.
But we are not realising that we are losing something valuable in leading this market-driven life. It is a fallacy to believe that there are no takers for good literature. We can’t expect every one to only focus on reading literature – who will then run the share market, drive buses and run factories? If one out of a hundred people read, it is a sign of good readership.
Our point of concern is that a majority of readers are reading only in foreign languages. It means native writers are not offering anything new. They are forever looking outside for inspiration because there is nothing new in our own literature.
Writers are also trapped in a new lifestyle. There is hardly any depth in Marathi writing as they are blindly copying writers of the ’60s such as Balchandra Nemade, Uddhav Shelke and Anand Yadav.
They re-mix the styles of different authors. Originality is lacking, and all writing is trapped in water-tight compartments of caste, religion, ideology and sex. No one is ready to represent the fabric of life in its totality. We need to step out of these compartments; only then will real literature flourish.
• How do you think television and other mediums have overwhelmed thinking professionals?
Children are completely entrapped by these mediums. They think and speak in the language propagated by them. It is because media does not give them the space to process independent thinking, it reflects in their decision making.
They are not serious about their lives, because dialogue is missing within families who are anyway stuck to television all the time. Even daily soaps based on works of legendary writers are not free from clichés as producers twist them at will.
► The final aim of the course is to ensure that students will choose writing as a career option
- Rajan Khan