HYDERABAD: Not one to shy away from courting controversies, Kiran Nagarkar proclaimed himself to be “not a dirty writer, but a very dirty writer,” when the discussion turned to the erotic elements in his writing. Persecuted by custodians of culture for his imagery of god, sex and lesser things in between, Kiran Nagarkar shares his thoughts at a one-on-one.
“It is awkward to hear people talking about sex as we hardly want to speak about it. No one says, ‘I am going to write about sex’. The idea is to write about it only if it forms a part of the narrative. I do write erotic stuff, but I have also written about many other things in my book,” says Kiran Nagarkar whose novel 'Cuckold' raised many eyebrows for its seemingly blasphemous portrayal of Meerabai.
His ‘irreverent’ adaptations of historical characters have earned him unenviable persecution from political parties. Does he feel there is a growing culture of intolerance?
“Look at what happened to Rushdie for Satanic Verses, to Hussain saab for his paintings. What is going on here? These are the same people who will be the first to claim the artists if they happen to win a Nobel Prize or an international honour. They will mark him as ‘Indian’,” says the writer.
Being a writer who started with Marathi and is now largely associated with English fiction, the transition has not been smooth.
“When I made the switch, Marathi writers and audience felt I had betrayed them and ever since, I have never been invited to a single Marathi literary festival,” says Kiran Nagarkar whose humorous 'Saat Sakkam Trechaalis' has a cult status in Marathi literature.
Switching between languages, how difficult is it for good literature in Indian languages to find a reach as vast as English?
“I have peculiar views on that. I wrote my play in Marathi, but it enjoys a committed fanfollowing. There’s only one language that binds all and that is good writing,” replies Nagarkar.
On his new book, ‘The Extras’, “All I can say is that I hope it sells a 100,000 copies,” quips the writer in his signature off-the-cuff style.