Interview with Anita Krishan
Anita Krishan is an author whose works are being considered as modern classics of Indian literary fiction because her language and her broad themes are far ahead of the usual writings being published vehemently. Anita Krishan has written many novels and among those, Tears of Jhelum and recently published Despite Stolen Dreams are very popular ones. You can know more about her on her official website anitakrishan.in. Below, you can read an interview that she did with Alok Mishra.
Alok Mishra: Congratulations on another successful book, Anita! Despite Stolen Dreams has been doing great since the launch and it has been the talking point whenever and wherever the serious book lovers discuss literature. How do you feel about this?
Anita Krishan: Thank You! It is surely very encouraging. For any venture, which takes years of hard work and patience, success comes as a windfall.
The book ‘Despite Stolen Dreams’ was intended for the serious readers, as a book that should leave an impact, and not just fizzle out of the memory of the readers the moment the last word is read and the book closed. I am happy that I have been able to achieve my objective.
Alok Mishra: Despite Stolen Dreams pushes further from where you left in Tears of Jhelum. How difficult was it making the ends meet? How has your experience been in writing this novel?
Anita Krishan: Once the basic idea and plot emerged, it was almost smooth going. As always, in the course of writing, the ideas keep emerging and getting fitted into the plot.
Alok Mishra: How do you know so deeply about the issue of terrorism in the valley of Kashmir? How did you get the idea to make a Kashmiri person the protagonist of the novel?
Anita Krishan: Whether it is state-sponsored or religious jihad, terrorism has shaken the roots of peace and stability in today’s world. It has brainwashed the youth into suicidal missions, claimed so many innocent lives, shattered so many families. Like most helpless common people, this scenario has pained me deeply.
Kashmir has been in my heart and mind ever since I grasped that my ancestors had come from Kashmir. They were a part of the exodus of Kashmiri pandits 200 years ago, during the reign of cruelty unleashed by Ahmed Shah Abdali.
Another reason to choose a Kashmiri as the protagonist was to send a strong message that personal religious preference has nothing to do with terrorism.
Alok Mishra: Is Wali, the protagonist of Despite Stolen Dreams, somewhere near to a real person? Is your story a pure imagination or it bears some marks of realism as well?
Anita Krishan: Though all my characters are creations of purely my imagination, many incidents echo the reality of the contemporary world.
Alok Mishra: Most of the fictional books which we read on the issue of Kashmir is either propagandist or too emotive. Your book is certainly different as it does have a vision so clear about it. What was your motivation for writing a conclusive book with hope and positivity, Anita?
Anita Krishan: Exactly! Hope and positivity! My aim for writing the books was to bind people in a thread of brotherhood. Hate begets hate, violence begets violence. What we need is understanding and love to solve the underlying problems. Only an olive branch can save the world from self-destruction.
Alok Mishra: I have personally liked the narrative part of your latest novel very much! And I will say it frankly that I have not read such beautiful language in the books by most of the contemporary writers. What else, other than conveying the ideas, is in your mind when you are writing your chapters, Anita?
Anita Krishan: The language comes naturally, could be the result of my love for literature. I have been an avid reader since my childhood.
I feel saddened by the language used by many present-day writers. It lacks dignity. I strongly feel that writers have the responsibility towards the society, especially towards the young impressionable minds. For, they are going to absorb what the writers give them. So it better be something good!
Alok Mishra: What’s your opinion about the current literary trends in Indian fiction, Anita? You have been a seasoned teacher of literature and you may have taught many novels of different reputation to the students. Please tell me your opinion about this.
Anita Krishan: I feel that too many, and all kinds of books are being published currently in India, but the books which become popular may not necessarily be good literature. The ongoing trend is to write what sells. Regrettably, in this bedlam, many good books simply get lost into oblivion. This attributes to deterioration in the quality of contemporary literature.
Alok Mishra: You also have been a poet. What’s the difference between composing a poem and crafting a novel? Which comes easier to you and also naturally?
Anita Krishan: Writing poetry is impulsive, emotive and spontaneous . . . comes only when one is deep in thought, emotion or mood.
Writing a novel requires planning, designing the ideas, juxtaposing them to flow smoothly, and of course, some research work. It is a time taking pursuit.
Alok Mishra: Are we reading good literature, Anita? This is my frank question to you and I would anticipate an equally open answer without being so diplomatic about it! Why our reading taste has changed? (If you think it has changed.)
Anita Krishan: I was a science student in my under-graduation. Nevertheless, I was a voracious reader of literature. I remember reading books like, The Agony and the Ecstasy, The Fountainhead, Roots, Shogun, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel ‘To Sir with Love’, and writers like Thomas Hardy, Dickens, Hemingway, Maugham left a deep impact on me.
Unfortunately, today’s popular literature is nothing more than Mills and Boons type, with sexual explicit. I feel these books are written with the sole motive to sell by titillating the readers. Whereas, books should be thought-provoking rather than being merely entertaining.
Alok Mishra: And finally, what are your further plans, Anita? Are you already writing your next novel? Can I also see a poetry anthology with your name on it in near future?
Anita Krishan: Well, presently I’m exploring a very different field. Having come from the mountains, I have a storehouse of ghost stories. Though some famous ghost stories of Shimla have been penned down by Ruskin Bond, the paranormal occurrences I’ll be recounting have been claimed to be true by those who experienced them but were never documented.
Alok Mishra: Thanks for your time answering my questions! I wish you the best for your future in writing, Anita!
Anita Krishan: It was my Pleasure (: