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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' (Part 1)

Utkarsh Patel
Read up, the first part of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged'. The books is probably the most honest version, of who Shakuntala was as a person, considering that it was taken from the version that Maharishi Veda Vyasa, himself wrote.

In this Interview, he tells us the kind of research that was put into this book, what the challenges were that went into its writing, why Shakuntala was chosen as the subject, how his book is different from everyone's versions and how he would relate the book and its two main characters, Shakuntala and Dushyant, to the lives today, and much more, Folks...

What is the kind of research that has gone into this book?

Since this was going to be about a time period which is not modern, a lot of research on the times, dressing, norms, protocols, etc. had to be researched. Also, since I was writing about a different version than the popular one (i.e. Kalidasa’s version), I had to read Abhijnanshakuntalam (in English) too. 

A number of academic essays on the subject and also other characters of my book had to be studied before I used them for my book.  

How much of the story is based on the research and how much is imagination?

While the research was more to get the details right, a lot of it is imagination, and quite a few characters are a part of the imagination, like Narada Muni, and many such characters, who have been added for the sake of the narrative.

Also, a number of incidents are imaginary, just as many characters and episodes that are brought in from time to time are imaginary. While the basic theme has been kept close to the original, many of the episodes have been imaginary. 

Why did you choose Shakuntala? What is the difference, you expect in the opinion of Shakuntala before and after the book?

Personally, I felt that Shakuntala has been a woman, wronged and I could feel that not much has changed in the modern times. I also feel that the original Shakuntala as envisaged by Ved Vyasa was a much admirable character and not many knew about her, since majority of us had been brought up on the Kalidasa’s version. Thus, I felt it made sense to write about her.

After reading this version, many might be able to change their opinion about the character. Today’s woman might be able to relate with her much more than before. Also, she could be a beacon of hope for many women, who have been left in the lurch by men in whom they had vested all the trust.

How do you think your book was different from everyone else’s?

My book, though a fiction has not strayed away from the original 
story. Also, while telling one big story, it also tells you many more myths which many might not have known earlier, but find interesting and worth knowing.

It is also one of the few novels, which begins with a Foreword by a scholar, and an Introduction and a long-list of further reading if anybody is interested.

Any challenges you had to face while writing this particular book?

Well, this was my first novel, so there were the usual doubts of whether it would get any publisher, to begin with. 

Also, in certain episodes, the desire to get authentic was often over-powering and thus could stall the entire writing process.

How would you relate this book and its two main characters, Shakuntala and Dushyant, to the lives today? Any similarities?

What happens with Shakuntala is not something that is alien to many women in modern times. Even today, innocent women are left in the lurch by men. 

As far as the other two characters are concerned, they have had to bear the brunt of a patriarchal mind-set, which too is not very uncommon today. While the same things might not be happening today, I won’t hesitate to say, that similar things to take place in many parts of our country.

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, right here, as well.

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