Priyanka Mathur talks to Vijaydaan Detha, renowned Rajasthani writer of stories like Duvidha (which was later made into a movie) called Paheli. Excerpts from the interview:

Q) Tell us something about your latest work?

I have just finished my work on Rajasthan ke saat Premaakhyan. I have written classic love stories from Rajasthan after doing their psychoanalysis. I have rewritten the stories in such a way that the story becomes contemporary but the essence is not lost. I knit fantasy and reality such that the folk tale’s soul remains intact.

Q) How do you choose your subject and what inspires you to write?

I never think about what I have to write. If I think about it I might not write properly. I just open my pen and start writing without a break. I write what I hear and see around me. I first write in Rajasthani and then translate it to Hindi. I had got a project of writing a compilation of love stories of Rajasthan from Bhartiya Gyan Pith.

Q) How did you start writing?

I started with writing poems in 1960. After writing 300 stories and 1300 poems in Hindi I got inspired by Russian writers like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, to write in my own language. Those are the writers who got famous by writing in their mother tongue.Then I too started writing in Rajasthani

Q) Who do you look up to as your mentors?

My mentors are Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay in Bengali, Jacob and Rabindranath Tagore. I had read their creations (books) many times. I have read Jacob’s Darling and Ward no. 6 about a hundred times but still it seems as if I am reading it for the first time. This is the nature of classic literature.

Q) Films are being made based on literature since years. Many of your stories have been made into films, have you seen them? How close is the depiction to the original stories?

I had always been conscious that my only two centre points would be writing and teaching. I had never approached any filmmaker myself, they came to me. I have not seen all the films being made on my stories. Yes, I have seen Paheli. One should not compare written story and a film because every art form has its own needs and jumps. The things that can be expressed by puppets can not be done through any other means. Everything develops in its own way. No art form is supplementary to other. Neither of TV, film or theatre can destroy an age old folk art like puppetry. Despite technology and newer mediums of entertainment, puppetry will continue to hold its importance.

Q) How do deformities affect art?

Deformity is more artistic. Plays are played since Kalidas’s time but Jacob and others are different at the same time. The difficulties of world and needs of people keep on changing. Emotions are different but media is powerful. Theatre is different from films which is a very modern form of media and scientific development is necessary.

Q) How do you see the relation between literature and films?

The needs and probabilities of different art are different. The probabilities in puppetry are different from that of theatre. The characters are wooden puppets in puppetry whereas there are live characters on stage. Film stage has not ended puppetry but added an art. Films brought literature to small towns and villages. Single person can read book at a time whereas film is viewed by crores of people at the same time.

Q) Why does a bhasha/vernacular writer not get the name, fame and importance as an English writer/author gets at the International level?

Persian was the official language before the British came. The entire advocacy was done in Persian or Urdu. Gradually Hindi became used in judicial courts. When British arrived they translated Indian literary work such as the folk tales, epics like Mahabharata, the Upanishads, or the Holy Quran into English to understand countrymen, the culture and their values.

No one is to be blamed. The regional division of our country is such. A Bengali person would only read Bengali, Telugu reader would read only Telugu. Therefore vernacular writers remain restricted only to a limited readership. As opposed to English which is accessible to more people due to its commercial value at least. Hence a person who reads or speaks Bengali and a person who reads or speaks Telugu both have access to the books written in English.

Q) What efforts are required to boost vernacular literature and writing?

Efforts are done when any language gives a person employment and provides him livelihood. If cow would not graze then she will not give milk, literature is like milk.











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