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Friday, February 16, 2018

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Kannaki's Anklet' (Part 1)

Utkarsh Patel
Read up, part one of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of 'Kannaki's Anklet'. There are a few authors whom I have liked for a lot of reasons, but this author, is an exception. The magic of the storytelling is repeated here, too. The charm that he takes on, while replying to each and every question is truly brilliant.

He has described the journey of writing and putting together this book, along with the research, he has put in. He has also described why Kannaki was chosen exactly, and he even drew comparison between the epic and his earlier novels, 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' and 'Satyavati', and how he sees the entire book as a tale. More questions in the second part, Folks...

Could you describe the journey of ‘Kannakki’s Anklet’? How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

While teaching mythology at the University, a student once asked me, ‘Why are heroes in mythology always men? Were women not seen as heroes or has mythology been partial to women? My studies had shown that except for occasional spark of heroism in a few female characters, one hardly comes across any women heroes.’ 

This set me thinking, and I started researching on myths, legends and folktales with female heroes, till I stumbled upon the Tamil epic, 'Silappadikaram'. I read and reread it and wrote on my Blog about it, and soon enough it took the form of ‘Kannaki’s Anklet’.

Statue of Goddess Pattini (Wikipedia)
Ilango Adigal (Wikipedia)
A lot of research has gone in. To begin with, I read a couple of academic translations of the epic and many discussions on the same. Its cultural relevance, the geographical path undertaken by Kannaki, as mentioned in the epic, its current cult following and how it travelled from India to Sri Lanka, where she is worshiped as 'Pattini Devi'.

Besides this, I also worked on Tamil cultural aspects and the tenets of Jainism, as the author of the epic, Ilango Adigal was a Jain monk and a lot of Jainism has been discussed in the epic.

Why did you choose Kannaki, exactly? How does she compare, exactly to the mythologies, you have written until now?

Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged
One of the main reasons of choosing Kannaki was that she was a very ordinary woman. She was what close to 80% of women in our country still are. She is simple, down-to-earth and her life revolved around her husband and her family.

She is a far cry from many of my earlier heroines, (Shakuntala and Satyavati), who were fiercely independent. They were truly mythical and belonged to Mahabharata.

The book has been compared to an epic. How do you see it, as a book or tale?

Kannaki's Anklet
It is an epic by all standards. As mentioned earlier, it is quite unusual, as all the epics of the world, be it Indian or Western, epics rest on the shoulders of male heroes. 

Here, the hero is a woman, Kannaki, and she is central to the story right from the beginning, to the end. Also, unlike other epics, the other woman, Madhavi, is not painted as a vamp or a negative character. The author has very beautifully brought out her character as a woman helplessly in love. 

It’s rare to find such mature depictions in the lores, from the past.

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

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