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Neelakantan: It was a conscious decision to write in English

Monday, Feb 22, 2016,15:52 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Mumbai | Anand Neelakantan, the author of best-seller mythological novel ‘Asura- Tale of the Vanquished’, said that he consciously chose to write in English when he decided to become a writer. It was a conscious decision to write in English, Neelakantan, an engineer-turned-writer, said at a panel discussion on ‘Is English hijacking the mythological platform?’ at the LIC Gateway Litfest here last evening.

The author said he did not have English-medium schooling, and therefore initially he harboured some diffidence about his writing capability in that language. It took me upto 32 years (of his age) to get the confidence to write in English, it was a conscious decision to write in English, he said. I want my books to be read. English is the connecting language, whatever our government may say. So, I took a conscious decision to improve my English. At the age of 38, I started writing in English, he said.

The writer said it was not easy to get published in Malayalam, his mother-tongue, and his stories, retelling Hindu of mythology, would probably have found no publisher in that language. Explaining why he turned to mythology for his ‘material’, Neelakantan said his rural family background helped him. I wrote what I knew, I tried to leverage my strength. I may have written better in Malayalam, but I don’t regret it, he said.

Tamil and Malayalam writer Jayamohan, the acclaimed writer of ‘Vishnupuram’, who too is known for his adaptations of mythological themes, on the other hand said he does not seek a wider audience but an elite or trained readership. I am not expecting lakhs of readers. I am satisfied with my readers, he said. Talking about how he uses mythology as a base, Jayamohan said he wasn’t interested in mere re-telling of the stories, but wanted to create my own mythology, to become another Vyasa of our time. I want to touch the sub-conscious of readers, he said, adding that our subconscious is always full of mythology.

Neelakantan, however, stressed that popular books, the ones catering to a particular market, should not be treated with contempt. Kalidas also wrote for the market. (It so happened that) His client was the king, he said.

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