Odisha Literary Festival: Triviality creeps in when biographer eulogises, say panelists

What should a political biography read like and are there ways to write an ideal one? As panelists at Odisha Literary Festival deliberated on the topic, the audience seem to find the answers.

Published: 23rd September 2019 10:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2019 10:08 AM   |  A+A-

Ashutosh, Bhartruhari Mahatab, Ravi Shankar, Meenakshi Lekhi and Jaya Jaitly during the session ‘True Lies or Truth Unlimited:The Political Biograph’ | Irfana

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: What should a political biography read like and are there ways to write an ideal one? As panelists at Odisha Literary Festival deliberated on the topic, the audience seem to find the answers.

At the session ‘True Lies or Truth Unlimited: The Political Biography’, BJD MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahatab said a biographer should not sing paeans.

“There are biographies which are very trivial. Triviality creeps in when the author tries to eulogise a person,” he said. A biographer has to go back to a particular time, understand the society to give an accurate account. Moreover, there should be a personal touch in biographies.

“Every literary work is subjective. I believe whenever one writes something, it is subjective in nature. Certain amount of personal experience should be there in the writing,” he said adding, readers can always find out if a biography is sponsored.  

Biographies are being written since last 200-300 years but have undergone a drastic change in the 20th century as socialism has come into play in the writings, he said.

Mahatab revealed his inner desire to write a biography of his father, former Chief Minister and one of the makers of modern Odisha Harekrushna Mahatab. “I feel, there is still something left out which needs to be written about my father,” he said.

For New Delhi MP and BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, if a biographer is not accurate about facts, the work is fiction, not biography. In this post-truth era, there will always be inaccuracies due to the demand of the market. The BJP leader also felt that historians are not always accurate.

She said, biography of Nathuram Godse should also be written. “The psychoanalysis of a person who killed Mahatma Gandhi and the stories of his life should be presented before the public.”  

If given a chance, the New Delhi MP said she would like to write a biography of her father-in-law.

The most important thing for former AAP leader and journalist Ashutosh to writing an accurate biography is honesty. A biographer should give an honest account of the person.

“I would like to write a biography of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is so full of intensity. After Mahatma Gandhi, Modi is the only person who has a cult following. It is important to know the workings of his mind,” he said.

Writer Jaya Jaitly said for a biographer to be true and honest, he/she has to shed bias. But unfortunately, today’s writers have an intrinsic bias and the biographies are judgemental.

“You feel the need to say things because people are either not willing to listen, heard the wrong things or you want to make sense of your own life. A combination of all these things makes a biography,” she said.

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