Thursday, September 22, 2011

Speaking from Shivapura

Poet, playwright and novelist, recipient of the 2010 Jnanapith Award Chandrashekara Kambaraa, interrogates modernity with myths, folk narratives and native theatrical forms

When Chandrashekara Kambaraa wrote his long narrative poem “Helatena Kela” (Listen, I will Tell you)in the early 1960s, he introduced, knowingly or unknowingly, some of the recurring themes which he would often return to in his later works. The poem which sings in praise of the traditional past and laments over the loss of innocence due to the onslaught of the modern forces clearly set the tone of his works that followed. Themes of tradition and modernity, crises of feudalism, native identities, colonialism, march of history, sex, loss of faith, the death of God and several related themes explored later in his plays, novels and poetry had found metaphorical expression in the narrative poem. “Helatena Kela” which could well be the central metaphor created by Kambara is located in Shivapura, an imaginary utopian village which continues to be a character, a metaphor and the locale in most of his works.

Kambara who has made Kannadigas proud by bringing the eighth Jnanapith award for Kannada is arguably among the best of the three greatest modern Kannada poets (the other two being D.R. Bendre and Gopalakrishna Adiga) and has trodden his own path deviating from both the stalwarts. His creative engagement with myths, folk narratives and native theatrical forms has helped him develop a distinct style and world view and makes him stand apart from his predecessors as well as his contemporaries. Though Kambara began as a Navya writer, he seems to have realised too soon that the Navya mode did not suit his sensibility. So he set out exploring the collective psyche of the community through native myths which were almost unexplored till then in modern Kannada literature. The non-Vaidika mythical world not only provided him the world view but also the rich texture, lyricism and the raw energy of the rural dialects. Though Kambara kept on journeying to the past like a ‘modern man in search of a soul', to borrow an insight from Carl Jung, the journey seldom refrained him from negotiating contemporary themes. In his poems on Mao Tse Tung or plays like “Jaisidanaika”, or “Harakeya Kuri” he has treated themes related to contemporary politics with a progressive outlook, albeit being naive at times.

Full report here Hindu

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