Couldn’t succeed due to shallow lifestyle around me: Kher

 Couldn’t succeed due to shallow lifestyle around me: Kher

Saurabh Tankha

Born to renowned Marathi author late BD Kher and classical singer mother (now 91), Rajendra Kher has been writing for over two decades. The graduate from Pune University has published 10 books in Marathi, all of which have been received with critical acclaim. Kher has worked as an assistant director in the film industry on documentaries and as a programme director for a TV channel. Early in his career, he produced and directed the short experimental film, Charlie Chaplin in Bharatvarsha. He has had extensive experience with writing scripts and screenplays and has contributed numerous articles and short stories to newspapers and magazines.

Udayan: The Forgotten Pandava (Platinum Press) by Kher is the story of the direct descendant of the great Pandava warrior, Arjuna and all that remains of the third great Indian epic, The Bruhatkatha and has been translated from Marathi by Prashant Talnikar. We had
In an e-mail interaction, Kher tells us more about the book, his Bollywood experience, Charlie Chaplin and is inspiration. Excerpts:

What made you choose Udayan as the subject of your book?
When I was in the class V, I first read two Sanskrit plays, Pratigya Yoagandharayana and Swapna-Vasvadatta in the context of Udayan. I loved those plays. After 30 years, I wrote this novel in Marathi by studying the original story. Leadstart Publishing published the English translation of the novel.

How much research and time went into its completion?
There are some ancient books on Udayan’s life. Katha Saritsagar by Somdev Bhatt (5 volumes, which are based on Brihadkatha by Gunadhya) and a couple of plays by great Sanskrit poet Bhasa. From this I had to pull out the Udayan story. It took two-and-a-half years to write the novel.

Do you agree or disagree the flow of the story is best felt by the reader in the language an author writes in as Udayan: The Forgotten Pandava was written in Marathi first and then translated into English?
I think the flow in the author’s native language is always best felt than the translation. However, translation transforms the storyline equally good but in some places translation also compromises.

How was your experience of working in the film industry?
Beginning 1979, I worked in the film industry for about 10 years. I started by giving a clap. Later I became an assistant director of many series and films. I worked with Prakash Mehra Productions, Siddharth Kak (Surbhi fame), Cinema Vision, Cinema, etc. After that, I worked for two years as a director and produced two programmes on a Marathi TV channel. But in all my career, I have not had much success. In those days, Hindi films were made in a certain way. Masala movies were booming. But I was not interested in such at all. I wanted to do something different. I wrote many stories, then wrote series, met many directors-producers. But nothing could happen. In those days, there were not many channels. Only Doordarshan! So one had to peruse this government channel authority to make a series. I did not succeed due to the attitude and the shallow lifestyle around me.

What made you bid goodbye to the film industry?
Famous producer late Prakash Mehra (producer-director of Zanjeer, Laawaris) was doing a Marathi film. I was the assistant director. During that time, I got very ill. I suffered from bronchitis and asthma. I lost health, weight and with a broken mind, I left Mumbai and returned to Pune. For about two-and-a-half years, I was in bed. I was already married then but this failure caused a sudden financial crisis. God closed all the doors leading to success. However, only one window was left open. I had heard this thought in the movie, Sound of Music. Book writing was an open window for me. Riding on grief and failure, I started writing a biographical novel on the life of Charlie Chaplin. The 14th edition of that novel was published this year. I got my way and I started writing in my bed. That window took me to great success.

Tell us something more about Charlie Chaplin in India.
Even though I wrote a lot of scripts and wanted to direct them, who was going to believe it was the issue? So I decided to do a trial (demonstrative) film. Charlie Chaplin was my very favourite actor so with that character, I did a 20-minute film with my savings. Charlie comes to India and involved in many pranks was the idea behind the story.

You have been an author, a producer, a documentary filmmaker, a production manager, written scripts, stories and articles. Which of these roles is closest to you and why?
Writer. Because you are the king of your creation!

Your inspiration?
My father.

Any book that inspired you to take up writing?
My father’s highly acclaimed novel on Hiroshima saga, Hiroshima.

What does it take to be a good storyteller?
Experience and thinking beyond conservative trending.


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