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பைரப்பாவும் நானும்

by மேல் செப்ரெம்பர் 9, 2014

bhyrappa_at_akka_2

பைரப்பா சமீபத்தில் ஒரு கன்னட மாநாட்டுக்காக அமெரிக்கா வந்திருந்தார். நண்பர் ராஜன் என்னை எதற்கும் ஒரு உரை தயாரித்து வைத்துக் கொள்ளச் சொன்னார். நேரப் பிரச்சினையால் மாநாட்டில் அந்த உரையை ஆற்ற முடியவில்லை. அது கீழே.

என் மீது அவரது நாவல்கள் ஏற்படுத்திய தாக்கத்தைப் பற்றி மட்டுமே இங்கே சொல்லி இருக்கிறேன். என்றாவது ஒரு நாள் அவரது நாவல்களைப் பற்றி விரிவாக எழுத வேண்டும்.

I think I read my first Bhyrappa book around 10 years back – Daatu. I have seen a Tamil translation in the local library for a while. But I have not heard of Bhyrappa then. One day I just picked it up despite reservations about its thickness. I started reading it in the evening, and didn’t put it down until I finished it.

When I closed the book, two thoughts were uppermost in my mind. One was that I am unlucky that I am not a Kannadiga. I wished – wish – that I could read the book in the original Kannada instead of a translation; I wished that I had read this genius before. The second was that I am lucky that I am not a Kannadiga. If I were one, I would have read his books long back instead of looking forward to reading more books by this genius. As one gets older, it gets harder and harder to be impressed by a “new” author, but Bhyrappa is one of those forces that would come clear through at any age.

Daatu was just amazing for me. I am middle-aged, I have lived in villages and cities, and I have observed casteism firsthand, I have been a victim of casteism, I have made casteist remarks myself, what new insight can anyone provide me about caste? That too with such simple characters; the Gowda who thinks that his caste is best; the brahmin who has a semi-hidden relationship with the dalit; the illegitimate dalit son, the brahmin daughter who marries the Gowda’s son; stereotypes, cliches, actually. But behind that simplicity lies elegance and brilliant craftsmanship. Here is a master, who by drawing just a few lines, tells you all about the caste phenomenon that has been an integral part of our lives for thousands of years. The ancient prejudices; the reinforcement of such prejudices in our times; the difficulty of breaking such prejudices and stepping out.

Then I came to know that Bhyrappa wrote the stories for two of my all time favorite movies – Vamsa Vriksha & Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane. Srothri has always been one of my favorite characters. When I first saw Vamsa Vriksha, I kept asking myself what I would have done if I had faced a similar situation. Again, such a simple question – what do you do if the principles you have lived by are not “complete”? If they cannot help you solve the current, burning problem? I leave it as an exercise to the reader to compare the approach of Praneshacharya of Samskara vs Srothri.

I have always been obsessed with Mahabharatha. Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Bhima, Krishna are not just legends to me, they are real. What can such an obsessed person say about Parva? It is one of the best retellings of Mahabharatha, and my words cannot do justice to this magnificent work. I would just make one tangential point – I think Pavannan’s translation in Tamil  did justice to Bhyrappa’s genius. There is only one question I would like to ask of Bhyrappa. What have you got against Kripa? Why did you make him such a laughingstock?

And there is Saakshi. The scene where the money is burnt has few equals in literature.

Bhyrappa does have an eye for humor – Gangamma in Gruhabhanga is a great example.  All of have met Gangammas in various garbs in our lives. But next time I meet one, I am sure, I would be able to laugh a little more. The Kandi vaidhya who can walk through forests in the middle of the night – is he truly brave or a coward who cannot face consequences of his actions?

I recognize that literary critics may point out that Bhyrappa adapts a straightforward way of writing and is not a subtle story-teller and put forward this as a weakness. I completely disagree. You don’t criticize Michaelangelo and Da Vinci for not using impressionist techniques. The true connoisseur takes their works and figures out what makes them great. It is the critic who has to adapt to the geniuses, and not the other way round.

I have heard from my Kannadiga friends that Bhyrappa is an extremely popular author in Kannada and his books sell like hot cakes. I am told that it is hard to sell even 1000 copies of a work of fiction in Tamil.  Clearly, the Kannadigas have good taste!

I hope that Gyanpeeth Award committee, The Padma Vibushan/Padhmabhushan committees, and the Nobel prize committee honor themselves by honoring Bhyrappa soon.

தொகுக்கப்பட்ட பக்கம்: பைரப்பா பக்கம்

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