An insight sharpened by experience

Sahaja by Desha Kulkarni

Rs. 140

Desha Kulkarni is a poet, critic and short story writer. He has wide reading sharpened by insight and his discriminations are worth consideration. In his book of criticism Sahaja, he has written about eight poets, six short story writers, four novelists, two critics and one playwright. In a short review we can only notice his most striking aspect, his critical sensibility.

Poetry takes the first place in his criticism. Here is a sample of his pronouncements: Vi. Seetharamaiah did not create his own poetic idiom like Kuvempu, but his poetry can be enjoyed as it is; Aravind Nadkarni is a conscious poet. His verbal exuberance is characteristic of his poetry; Shailaja Udachana does not pay attention to metre, rhyme, imagery and structure of poetry; Jayant Kaikini's modern sensibility is the soul of his poetry; H.S. Venkatesha Murthy shows a new trend where the style itself becomes the content. When you read this you feel that more is implied than what is said.

When Desha Kulkarni comes back to the short story he says: Vyasaraya Ballal's language has the flow of a river. His endings are not as clever as O'Henry's, but they surprise us by taking natural turns and twists, which is natural to love. The stories of K.V. Tirumalesh are neither traditional nor absurd. They are not fantasies. The form of the story becomes the theme and that reminds us that he is a poet. For Mahabalamurthy Kodlikere, the characters are more important than what they do.

Desha Kulkarni makes some interesting observations about some novels too.

Talking of Kum.Veerabhadrappa's novel Shamanna, he feels that experimentation itself becomes the end of the experiment. He feels that the last part of U.R.Anantha Murthy's novel Divya is like a political pamphlet. It has cinematic ending.

The novelist has tried to cram into the novel, mysticism, mythology history and politics.

His articles on criticism distinguish the approach of two critics K.D. Kurtukoti and G.S. Amur. Kurtukoti does not believe in evaluating his works of art. He believes that insights would decide the value of a work. And according to Kurtukoti, Karnad's Tughlaq is the most successful western play written in Kannada. Dr. G.S. Amur's study of the works of Sriranga is academic and is loaded with references. Finally, Desha Kulkarni takes to task Karnataka Sahitya Akademi for asking individuals to prepare the anthologies of 20th Century poetry, criticism and short stories. He feels that the academies should set up committees to prepare anthologies.

This is a brief review. But Desha Kulkarni needs much more attention.


From food to everything

An insight sharpened by experience

Vichitranna by Srivathsa Joshi

Geetha Book House, Rs. 220

This is a compilation of 126 weekly writings for a Kannada Internet paper. One advantage is that you can start reading from any piece. For example, if you are fond of food items, you can easily spot quite a few.

There is a variety, and majority of the pieces do succeeded in entertaining most readers. The language is lucid and flowing.

The "Kanglish" employed here gives an additional dash of fun at times. The author is equipped on a range of subjects. Beginning from a teddy bear to nagaswaram to popcorn to newsreaders, to Kuvempu's vishva manava sandesha.

The author's humour is natural and spontaneous. The titles are catchy and he can surprise you with twists. Not only is the author modest, but he is also keen to interact with and get feedback from the readers. Pun is his forte.

He gets to the root of many small things (lemon, aspirin, necktie, shopping cart...) with the zeal of a researcher.

It is indeed remarkable that an employee in the IT division of a Biotech company, away from his home State, has kept himself abreast of subjects with respect to Karnataka, and that to of such a wide range.

"A Kannada writing filled with pun, bun, wit, humour, jokes, riddles, fun and frolic," this was the mandate given by the web portal on the book. Kannadigas working abroad, especially in the U.S., were its target readers.

The author has catered to and fulfilled their yearning to remain connected their culture. But when the domestic readers read all the pieces in the form of a book, and after a passage of time, it may even seem pedestrian.

I'm sure the size of the book could be reduced with serious editing. The author's fascination for Sanskrit shlokas and religious rites (very Brahminical), the book may find favour with only a few.

On the whole an engaging read.

H.S. Manjunatha

Leafing Through is a fortnightly column that features Kannada books.

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