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Issues in New Kannada Fiction: Tucked Fabric in a Changed World

5 Nov

Fiction, according to a noted critic of Kannada language Dr. Gourish Kaikini, is a testimony to writer’s strength. In Kannada he describes it as “Gadyave lekhakana satwakke sakshi” which means prose, which can be taken as fiction in this context, is a reflection of writer’s creative endeavor. Even though poetry is commonly considered the highest art form, fiction has its own perceptive impact on the readers.

So by choice, I wish to liken this topic to the tucked fabric in a changed world. I like to use this metaphor to overview the recent developments in new Kannada fiction. The new Kannada fiction is as good as the tucked fabric, where the fabric woven with variety of threads of different colours and formats serves as the background, it is tucked evenly in a new fashion to match the expectations of the new world around.

In this paper I will be focusing on three main topics. First will be the brief history of Kannada fiction. Kannada language, with most Jnanapeeth awards to its credit, where the total number is eight and the recent award winner being Dr. Chandrashekhar Kambar for his collective works, has a rich legacy. When it comes to representation in Indian literature prose writing in Kannada is flooded with experimentation. The second part will speak on how the new writers were influenced by the seasoned writers and in the mean time what challenges they faced to overcome the so called written rules. And finally in the third part I will be giving you the updates about present issues of new fiction in Kannada. Well the latter one will cover the major part of our time where the earlier two may just subordinate the main topic.

In Kannada, the literary works never stick to one rule; it doesn’t mean that the ideologies of the writers are fluctuating. The social beliefs and political ideologies of the writers always remained constant but the process of storytelling and the preference for the choice of topics have undergone frequent change with time. Fiction in Kannada never had a stagnant presentation but it always had an easy flow with natural ups and downs. When it comes to aesthetics, running water has its own beauty, a beauty of transparency. Again going to the above illustrated metaphor, the tucked fabric has its own attraction.

Most of the significant fiction works in Kannada came forth in the sixties and seventies with the background of two major literary movements, the Navya or the modernist movement of the sixties and the Dalit movement of the Seventies. Most of the writers, even the women writers who made significant contribution to the Kannada fiction entered the literary scene in these two decades. The Navya writers wrote in introspection. The focus here was on individual psyche, their grief and introvert desires. Intellectualism was a keyword in Navya writings. D. R. Nagaraj, a late Navya critic wrote ones in Vibhava magazine about this. If you allow me to quote him, just listen to this in D. R. Nagaraj’s words, “When ideologies like nationalism and spirituality become the apparatus of the state, a section of the intelligentsia has no option other than to seek refuge in bunkers of individualism. Individualism becomes the politics of the disillusioned.”

As a contrast, the Dalit Bandaya movement of 1970’s gave Kannada literature a social relevance. The leftist ideology was the watchword of this movement. This movement also rendered a great contribution to the treasure of Kannada fiction as the exploited and marginalized people came forth to the main stream and wrote in their own dialects. Devanuru Mahadeva who wrote Kusumabaale is the most noteworthy writer among them. But as every movement, even these two movements had their own flaws. Some of the Navya writers were branded for metaphysical write-ups and some from Bandaya were stigmatized as sloganeers.

Then the postmodernists came to the forefront. They took the essence from Navya movement and activist attitude from Bandaya. Celebration of middle class and cosmopolitan storytelling made this genre popular as it built certain aesthetic taste in the readers as well. But again, some of the writers were the victims of the mediocre created by this style.  Post modern genre did not emerge as a powerful literary movement as the earlier duo did. As another Jnanapeeth award winner Dr. U. R. Ananthamurty puts it, “Movement gives focus on the scattered creative writing. But the real creativity as a whole, even though inspired by the movement, peers beyond that.”

Hence this quality, as a whole can be taken as strength as it welcomed more experiments and convergence in the art forms. Short story writer Nagaraj Vastarey, an architect by profession who is well known for experimentalism in fiction forms, puts all his poems and short stories in one collection and when read as a whole; it gives a feel of delight, which one gets after reading a fiction. This is a success of the new fiction form.

Hence the fictions of the new writers who started writing after post modern genre got carried away neither by their immediate parents nor their ancestors. They are writing in a freewheeling space. They break the rules and often rejoin them. As a result they had a plenty of space for experimentation without any mediocre. And thus, the new Kannada fiction is flourishing with the beauty of tucked fabrics with a new set of enthusiastic writers.

In earlier paragraph I was talking about the space, I feel I should elaborate this point. The space where the writer’s creative world evolve, not only plays a significant role in deciding the form and content of his creative work but serves as the voice as well. It cannot be completely disagreed if one claims that the occupations in which the writers are in influences their fiction content. But it is inescapable to notice that the contemporary generation is freer from the good old hang-ups to moralize the content. The themes are mostly urban centric but some of the new writers who gained momentum from the rural background write with rural essence which give them the expression of transcendence. The changed societal scene which includes the converged media, malls, FM channels and social networking sites also plays a warp and woof in the new literature.

Some writers came to a forefront through the short story competitions conducted by the vernacular newspapers like Prajavani, Vijaya Karnataka and Kannada Prabha. Many of the writers have their own blogs and some of them contribute to the web portals avadhi.mag and The entire scenery is refreshing with a modified set of writers for the changed readers. After the women readership drastically came down due to the invasion of cable television networks, as in the other languages, the number of fictions in Kannada also came down. But it also had an advantage; the readers who are very few in number are very serious consumers of constructive fiction.

When it comes to the use of language, the growth is significant. Uninhibited usage of new language has brought the new fiction its own beauty. The changed language of expression in the changed world has a fresh manifestation pertaining to novel ideas. The use of new language provides as a great tuck to keep the fabric in an attractive shape.

But as like as in any setup, there are some loopholes even here. In one of the earlier paragraphs I was talking about breaking the rules. As William Strunk says, breaking rules are always ideal but to break the rules, we should first know what the rules are. I feel perturbed to make a point that the deep study of past literature is lacking in our new generation. The fast food culture which has seized our tongue to the healthy food intake has come in the way of our attitude towards perceiving the literature also. This is a major impediment of our times.

Story telling without excitement is different from storytelling without spirit. Some fictions in the new era glitter with the colour of excitement and lack the luster of spirit which in turn affects the contemplation of storytelling.

It is good to see that in Kannada each writer writes in his own structure. This can also be taken as a drawback as there are very less seminal works in the new fiction. The cut throat experimentation has come in the way of creating seminal works. Lack of strong decision making attitute has brought severe fluctuations in a writers’ mind and as a result there are no vibrant write ups in the new era.

Despite all these complaints I would like to conclude this talk with an end note. In Kannada new fiction, quality superiors the quantity when it comes to recent write-ups. The tucked fabric, however small, is in good shape and likely we can expect that it fetches some good results in coming days.


  1. ‘Sirigannada- Anthology of contemporary kannada writings’ edited by Vivek Shanbag
  2. ‘Beyond Bangalore’ edited by Kruti.R
  3. Article in Times of India newspaper ‘English poetry by Indians is as good as Indian fiction’
  4. C.N. Ramachandran’s forward to Jayant Kaikini’s short story collection ‘Dots and Lines’
  5. U R Anantmurty’s interview in Mugulu magazine
  6. D R Nagaraj: ‘A note on modern Kannada writing,’ in Vibhava magazine

Presented on 5 October 2012 at: All India Young Writers’ Festival,Sahitya Akademi Auditorium, New Delhi-01


A Poetic Journey of Modern Women Poetry in Kannada

4 Nov

Starting from Belegere Janakamma who was writing up to 1966, more than hundreds of women have enriched the Kannada poetry by contributing their talented works. At the end of twentieth century, the prominent and distinctly heard aspect was this ‘women’s voice’ of new age. Today the poetesses have stood equal to men to raise their voice. Many of them are observed as the important poetesses of Kannada literature. But many of these poetesses have related their poetry to Akkamahadevi of 12th century. (For example, Sa Usha’s ‘Akka Heliddu’).

During this time, the poetesses of Kannada have written the promising works which dealt with experiments in topic, pattern, rhythm and language of poetry. It is not a straightforward task for me to describe the poetic experiments done by different women writers who are from variety of social and geographical backgrounds. Belegere Janakamma (Hennata) wrote in the way to research the identity of women. The dreams and confusions of women were projected in her poems in a very simple language without any emotional obscurity.

The poems of Jayadevi Tayi Ligade (Higgutide Vishwa) was also on the same track. As Akkamahadevi gave up all the facilities of high society life and went in search of eternal search for beauty of life in her poems, Jayadevi Tayi Ligade had also strived to empty her feelings for the beloved after expressing her thoughts in the poems. But we see many differences between Akkamahadevi’s and Jayadevi’s ways. In Jayadevi’s poems, we see the image of searching for women’s identity. In Sunita Shetty’s (Taledanda) poems this search for personage comes as songs. Sometimes, even though the answer is known to everyone, she dares to ask the question again. In the long long roads of summer afternoons, she believes she may find the shade for her lifetime. Here we observe the women expressions changing with time to react to the sociological needs.

But for many poetesses, their poetic temperament is not just the easy theories about the pros and cons of man’s world. The rudeness faced by women on her biological characters has not made them inferior. Instead, they are writing with much more confidence. I can quote Cha Sarvamangala’s ‘Ammana Gudda’ as an example, for it creates the pride to see woman sharing her experience objectively. Vaidehi is the poetess who deemed to have a special and extraordinary voice. The mystic touch which is not seen in much of the modern poets is seen in her write-ups. As the poems of Vaidehi have special binding in them, her poems have gained the secret light.Image

In Kamala Hampana’s (Naanu Amrutamatiyalla) poems the dreams are burnt into ashes but the poet will stand to face it and overcome it. The prosperity, cries, memories, truths are mixed in her poems to project the real life’s dreadfulness. The poems of Shailaja Udachan Imake use of things in the nature. She loves the life in which she is in and enjoys it with all its essence. Leelavati Toranagatti’s (Vishwasa) poems speak about the commercialized culture of buying in the era of globalization. She strives to take the mind out of it and makes the experiences blissful.

L V Shantakumari, in her Maala Bekku exhibits her grief, dissatisfaction, anger and unhappiness but always in pleasant manner. She celebrates her daily life and even the topics related to morning, evening, mother, bird, tree, kite and flute can provide as the content for her poems. Malati Pattanashetty in her Mouna Karaguva Hottu distributes the intimate happiness obtained even during the bad moments. Uttamanuru Rajamma Shetty (Tumbi Kolluttale) invokes the love, marriage, social, political situations in her poems which are in the form of songs. The writings of Shivalingamma Katti have been influenced by the Vachanas but have secured their own identity.

B T Lalitha Nayak (Nam Roopli) writes simple and normal romantic poems. She observes the affairs of life without any hesitation. And that’s why she stands as a very important poet in Bandaya movement. Sarojini Chavalar (Sasya Shyamale) writes on  the silent pain of suppressed women. She also writes in Bandaya style by highlighting the faults of the society we are in. Shalini Shrinivas in Nijavenu Geleya gives the revolutionary touch to her poems about the equality of men and women.

Vijaya Subbarao’s poems in Vasundhareya Praya explains about the patience in life and balanced verve. Shashikala Veerayyaswami’s Pranayini speaks about the philosophical concern and console for woman’s pain. She does not pile it up but explains in a very silent manner. In Bagirathi Hegade’s Hennu Huli, the unpleasant incidents doesnot disturb the poet but encourages the new ways in her.

Bhagya Sudarshan in her ‘Khasagi Kone’ collection brings up the artistic aspect of day today life in words. R Nirmala’s ‘Neenu’ finds its way in nurturing the emotional force which drivens the feelings in heart. Arundhati Ramesh in ‘Belakina Saalugalu’ deals with the exploitation of women folk due to her biological appearance. Leela Kalakoti in ‘Naana Bartinanda’ gently explains the woman’s feeling without feminist attitude.

K R Sandhya Reddy in ‘Badukina Vyathe’ writes on how the human life is travelled on humane experiences. B N Nagaratna in Vikshipta writes on the day today pains without any artistic touch. Pratibha Nandakumar in ‘Nanu putti male nodiddu’ is the proud mother who sees her daughter in a much confidence.

Hema Pattanashetty in Sankara concentrates on intimate feelings when it comes to women’s life. Tulasi Venugopal in Navilugari extends her gratitude to her motherland and its culture as she has settled outside her state. D B Rajiya in ‘Chaya’ writes on how the marriage can become the bridge in making up the minds to face challenges together. H S Muktayakka in Appa is influenced by Allama’s writing style of Vachana Sahitya. Ba Ha Ramakumari in ‘Gini Muti Maavu’ believes that the worldly truth depends on how the mind thinks and she expressed it without any hesitation. Lata Rajashekar in Bhodi Vrukshada Kelage writes on the life’s delicacy in her short poems. Sukanya Maruti in ‘Anaathe’ understands the life in the Bandaya style giving it the touch of fire. Savita Nagabhushan’s poems travels in a silent manner amidst the middle class setup. Her Kitakiyalli Chandira explains the emotional challenges faced by married women.

Sujata Kumata, Mallika Ghanti, M R Kamala, Sabiha Bhumigouda, K H Poornima, U Maheshwari, Meena Mysore, Vijashri Sabarad, K Sharifa, L C Sumitra, Lalita Siddhabasaviah, Madhavi Bhandari have written the powerful poems in Bandaya literature. The dramatic representation of these poetesses will showcase on the life’s truth. H L Pushpa uses the language as a tool to keep readers astonishing. T C Poornima relates her poems with nature. Du Saraswati powerfully writes on the extremeness of this era. Sandhyadevi entered the world of poetry in her middle age but writes very significantly. Ha Ma Kanaka writes how the birth and death provides the instinct nature for love. M S Veda brings rural life and the human nature in her poems.

Jyoti Guruprasad in ‘Chukki’ writes the intimate poems on love. H N Arati sees the darkness of life with pity. Mamata G Sagar (Nadiya neerina teeva) stress on the secrecy of life without selfishness. Dharani Devi Malagitti expresses the poems in Bandaya style. Meena Sadashiv writes the touching poems intimately. Roopa Hasan in Bagilaacheya Mouna writes on the balance of life. Vinaya Okkunda in Bayarike explains how the globalization has affected the life of individuals. Sunanda Kadame in Seeludari writes how the family is important to gain natural rhythm of life. D C Geeta writes on the modern topics with the questions without answers. Sudhasharma Chavati self criticizes in her own way in her poems. Veena Bannanje is influenced by the Akka’s Adwaita in her poems. Prajna Mattihalli believes that the poems bring out the beauty to life.

Besides these poets, we can observe the large number of poetesses enriching the world of Kannada Poetry.

(Originally written in Kannada by Sunanda Prakash Kadame. Translated for presenting in twelveth convention of All India Poetess Conference Khurja held at Hubli on 6,7,8 January 2012)


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