I was over the moon when Kavita Kane agreed for an email interview. She is fast becoming my favorite mythological author. She has a good eye for obscure and relegated mythological characters who are less heard of and infuse life into them. Kavita is a very good storyteller. Her plots are out of the box yet logical which makes her stories convincing and we as readers get to read a completely fresh viewpoint of the same story. It is like fresh morning air which we inhale everyday but freshness is always new and fills us with renewed energy.
Her first book is Karna’s Wife. Many books are written on this unsung hero of Mahabhatara but in first person. Kavita choose to write about Karna from a woman’s point of view as a man, warrior, husband, ruler and above all as a human being. Sita’s Sister her second book fills the missing gaps of Ramayana with focus on Urmila, one of the sister of Sita.
Very soon in December we will get to read her latest novel Menaka’s Choice which again shows her astute in selecting topics which others safely ignore or never thought about.
Following are the excerpts of the interview with Kavita Kane.
Q. In your first two books, titles of the novels used to refer to the main character rather indirectly which is quite a unique feature of your book, why did you choose to be different in your upcoming book.
Kavita: I guess Menaka needs no introduction! She is one of the most enduring mythological character to colour our collective, contemporary mind unlike Uruvi or Urmila. Many didn’t know Sita had a sister called Urmila. Or she is vaguely familiar as Lakshman’s wife. Both Uruvi and Urmila were known through the identity of a bigger character – Karna and Sita respectively. Not so Menaka. She stands on her own – the apsara, the seductress, the symbol of female beauty.
Q. Both the leading characters Uruvi and Urmila were strong feminist protagonist. To what extend they were reflection of your own character.
Kavita: Besides the temper and being outspoken, none I am afraid! I am not as selfless as Urmila or as forgiving as Uruvi. But seriously, the author’s personality does not need show through the characters simply because all the characters are created from the author’s mind, all are part of that same imagination.
Q. How difficult was it to re-write Ramayana as the original one is etched in reader’s mind?
Kavita: Sita’s Sister is not a retelling of the Ramayan. In fact it misses out on most of the storyline of Ramayan and deals with the missing gaps – an overlooked character like Urmila or Sita’s cousins or the life in the palace of Ayodhya after Ram and Lakshman have left for the 14 years exile. What happened then with just the three old queens and the three young girls left behind in grief and loneliness? The story is of love and separation than the Ramayan itself.
Q. In Sita’s Sister, you have written about Menaka and Vishwamitra. Did the idea of writing about Menaka popped up then.
Kavita: Actually it did! While doing my research on Sita’s Sister I came across the story of Vishwamitra, the guru of Rama and Lakshman and more importantly, the man who ‘arranged’ the marriage between Ram and Sita. He was a phenomenal man – powerful and brilliant and that mere lust for a woman could topple such a great man completely floored me. It was an intriguing aspect of this man – of how he was destroyed by a woman. And that woman was Menaka, who again was a mere mention in the original texts. She fascinated me. Who was she? We know her as the beautiful apsara who was sent to seduce Vishwamitra but what was her story, her life? Again she was the mother of Shakuntala, whom she abandoned. Was she heartless or helpless? And that’s how the story unwound….!
Q. You were a journalist by profession so how did you become an author. Was it accidental? When did you first think of becoming a writer?
Kavita: I wrote Karna’s Wife as I wanted to try my hand at some creative writing so unlike the journalistic writing I had dabbled in for 20 years! Fortunately the book was very well received and was a best seller. It’s surprise success encouraged me to write another novel on another favorite mythological character – Urmila. And to some extent Lakshman whose sexual identity is sublimated as the devoted brother/brother-in-law. That’s how Sita’s Sister happened and by then, I had decided to quit my job and be a full time author. So it wasn’t accidental but then, neither was it intentional!
Q. Does marketing play a role in the success of a book or you believe a good book will get noticed somehow?
Kavita: How would you know it’s a good book if you don’t know about it? Marketing makes the book visible. Again what’s a good back or a bad one is so arbitrary, hingeing on readers’ liking which again is so relative. Marketing helps sell the book – be it good or bad!
Q. Up till now your books were women-centrist. In future will you write a novel from man’s point of view.
Kavita: Yes I certainly shall where the male protagonist is not overwhelmed by the female lead! By the way, Menaka’s Choice is about the man too. It’s a parallel narrative of both Menaka and Vishwamitra.
Q. Your favorite book and any author whose writing you admire most.
Kavita: I have no one favorite author or book – there are quite a few! And mentioning one would be both unfair and untrue.
Q. Will you venture into writing something very different from mythology? Or will you continue to find neglected and forgotten mythology
characters and give them their due credit.
Kavita: Am going with the flow. Right now mythology and relationships interest me. Possibly a year down, some other genre might. I don’t think too much on the genre: let the ideas keep coming!
Q. Any plans for translating Sita’s Sister in other languages.
Kavita: Yes there’s going to be a Hindi translation. Another 6 months!
It was enthralling chatting with Kavita and we wish her best for Menaka’s Choice and many other books which she will come up in future.