Saturday, September 24, 2011

A new chapter

Author Anita Nair, who turns scriptwriter with “Lessons In Forgetting”, talks about her constant quest to reinvent herself

“Joyously invigorating, and agonising,” is how Anita Nair describes the experience of writing the film script for of her latest novel Lessons in Forgetting. “While fiction is my first love, I need to constantly challenge myself. Hence I seek different forms and structures,” says the author of novels such as The Better Man, Ladies Coupe, and Mistress, besides many short stories, essays, travelogues, and poems. Lessons in Forgetting takes the issue of female foeticide head on. Says Nair: “According to a 2007-survey by the UN, over 2,000 unborn girls are aborted every day in India. While it is illegal to reveal the sex of the child through pre-natal scans, the law has so far been ineffectual. Son Preference for sons, dowry, and patriarchal systems are said to be the key reasons for female foeticide. According to campaigners, many fertility clinics in India offer a seemingly legitimate facade for a multi-billion-dollar racket — gender determination is still big business in India.” The film is produced by the Bangalore-based Prince Thampi of Arowana Consulting. It marks the directorial debut of Unni Vijayan, alumnus of Film and Television Institute, Pune. Made in English with sub titles wherever the dialogue is in Tamil, the film it is to be completed by early October. Excerpts from an interview with the author.

The book received good reviews. Were you sceptical about adapting it into a film?
Not really. As I was doing the screenplay myself, I knew I would be able to capture the essence of the book without losing its layered textural values. There were instances where I left bits out, and at other times introduced a new scene to make the connection seamless. I had some semblance of control. It was also a learning experience.

You recently translated Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's magnum opus Chemmeen
A translation would require me to walk the way of another writer and see his landscape and characters through his eyes. The very first line of the book had me in knots. Chemmeen is in fishermen's dialect. This was unfamiliar territory and I put the pen down. What was I going to do? Over the course of the next fortnight, I roped in my secretary, a Malayali, to read out the book aloud to me. I have no formal education in Malayalam. What I do have is an ability to understand and comprehend the nuances of the language. The familiarity with the cadence grew into a natural ease. It was perhaps one of the most creatively satisfying things I have done.

Full interview here Hindu

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