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Friday, February 27, 2015

Author Interview: Kavita Kane, author of 'Sita's Sister'



Kavita Kane
She is back with a bang. Kavita Kane set some standards, the first time I read ‘Karna’sWife’, and now with the sister of a most loved heroine, she raises the bar, further.

I started this book, since the name of the novel caught my attention at first go. ‘Sita’s Sister’ is a remarkable book, it attempts to set the tone for future authors.

So you can read up the Review here and Buy the Book here, as well. Read on further for her own words…
                                           

How did ‘Sita’s Sister’ happen? What’s the research that has gone into it?

Interestingly, when I first decided to write a novel, it was with the story idea of Sita's Sister, that is, about Urmila. But I gave it up after not getting too much information about her to expand into a whole novel.

I wrote ‘Karna's Wife’ instead. After the surprise success of this debut novel, I was brave enough to attempt another. The idea of Urmila persisted and I sat down to how I would develop it. I finally did and it came out exactly the way I wanted!

Why did you choose Urmila? What is the difference in the opinion of Urmila before and after the book?
While reading the Ramayana when I was at school there were three characters whom I loved - Urmila, Lakshman and Sumitra and out of the three Urmila fascinated me the most. If I were to ever write a novel, it would be on her!
Fortunately or unfortunately, there was just a scant mention of her in the epic, so I had the freedom to flesh her out on those flimsy, skeletal facts. She was to have slept through those 14 years when her husband was away on exile with Ram. It was metaphorical, of course.
Instead, I looked at her beyond being Sita's younger sister or Lakshman's wife or Janak's true daughter. A scholar, an artist and a woman, who held the fort at Ayodhya when the three went on their exile. There is much fiction but placed within the framework of the facts. I did not want to break her image - however blurred it was - yet to make her a striking woman, she who, triumphed tears and tragedy with dignity and strength.
How would you relate the life of Urmila’s life to the lives today? Any similarities?
Emotions and relationships are not time-limited, they are universal. And in both my books I have dealt with issues like love and disappointment, one of the main reasons for marital friction.
In ‘Sita's Sister’, it is also about long distance relationship - such a common phenomenon, today.  Then there is the saas-bahu equation, sibling relationship and the tussle between jealousy and insecurity, power and arrogance, duty and love... some issues remain the same down the ages. I explored them through my characters, chiefly the four sisters and the three queens.
'Ramayana' from Wikipedia
Both your books came out along with a number of mythological novels. What according to you, was different about them?

Mythology is a huge canvas and each author handles it in his own inimitable way. Therein lies the charm of both the author and mythology!

How would you relate the lives of Urmila and Lakshman to the lives today? Any similarities?

As I said earlier, the basic relationship issues remain the same, values change. Urmila and Lakshman suffer physical separation and I think both handled it beautifully. Falling in love is easy, loving is difficult.

Also, both are ranked second in the sibling hierarchy which, definitely affects how their personalities are.

How would you relate the book and its characters, besides the two mentioned earlier, to lives today?

‘Sita's Sister’ is more about the women in the Ramayana than about Ram, Sita and Lakshman in exile. These people left behind within the lonely palace of Ayodhya fought a different battle.

Another element was the difference in power and status equation amongst siblings is what makes or breaks the sibling relationship. It is not just love, it has to be followed by trust and respect. And this goes for any relationship be it a couple, siblings or parent-child. That comes through every other character besides the protagonists.

Which is your favourite character besides Urmila? Why?

Kaikeyi. If not Urmila, I would have liked to write on her. But, a lot has been said about this remarkable woman. She is probably the most interesting, versatile villain, very finely nuanced in her shades of grey.

She is the spirited princess, the favourite queen, the spunky warrior, the generous mother who suddenly turns evil. Why? She holds the key to the family's happiness and tragedy.

What are the most fulfilling parts, now that you have managed to release two novels?

Besides writing what makes the effort, so fulfilling is receiving the readers' feedback. I prize and cherish them. And I strive to learn from their reactions and responses. It does make you think, analyse and need be, correct and rectify.

How do you differentiate them from the usual understanding of some of these characters that we get to read about?

More than the black and white, I like the greys in the characters. Besides a strong narrative, fleshing out the characters is the most exciting part. Especially, when they are profuse, they should not overlap and confuse the reader.

More than Urmila, I found Lakshman to be more difficult to define. His identity has been completely sublimated. He has always been seen as the ideal brother or the devoted younger brother in law. Within this definition, I had to work on him, adding colour and shades to his uni-dimensional personality.

Same was with Karna in ‘Karna's Wife’. He is such a larger-than-life figure in popular imagination, that adding the the right dose of greys and pathos to him was creatively challenging.

Also, Kunti or Kaikeyi and Kausalya. They are huge personalities and need to be handled with care. I went a step ahead and coloured them with strong strokes of grey.  But for a few, most liked these strong women.

What book is coming from you next?

Best it does the talking when it's out!

Did you think that they would become as successful as they have become today?

I am overwhelmed at the tremendous response each has evoked. And am really glad my readers enjoyed them. Surprises are often sweet!
 
Which book are you currently reading?


Who are your favourite authors and why?

I can't claim to have any favourite authors. Each has his/her own charm, which I loved individually and each influenced me in some way.

Who is your inspiration?

Anyone and anything. Could be a person, a stranger, an incident, a friend, family, pets, and the supernatural. It's all so wonderfully cohesive.
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