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Reporting by Shradha S for Yentha, November 13, 2010.

In session with Rakesh Khanna, the Tamil writer Charu Nivedita has some harsh words for the double standards that prevail in modern Indian society, more specifically in Tamil Nadu. He has been writing in Tamil, English and Malayalam, for the past 30 years with almost 45 published works till date.Charu Nivedita is one of the prominent figures in transgressive, post modern literature, who has four novels in Tamil that has been translated into English, short story collections, plays, various essays and criticisms to his credit. He is also an avid blogger and knows Spanish, Arabic and Sanskrit, knowledge of which has helped him quite often in his writing.In his land, Tamil Nadu, Charu Nivedita is almost anonymous. It is this anonymity that keeps him safe in spite of his provoking writings and explicit content that are almost never published in his home-state. The bureaucrats remain ignorant of his existence though he and his contemporaries have a hardcore readership, be it columns or personal blogs.In contrast, “Kerala has adopted me as their own writer.” The fact that he has his own column in leading Malayalam dailies on world music, film reviews and criticisms attests to it.He is a ‘voracious’ reader of Tamil literature, and thinks that a majority of the contemporary writings are unnoticed because of the Westerner’s craze towards the 2,000 Sangam literature, misunderstood as the sole representation of Tamil literary scene. “We have poets more powerful than Pablo Neruda and they are un-recognised. Tamil writers of today are treated as folk artists and mediocre ones are given importance,” says he.

On his reception among critics, he says: “My writings are labeled vulgar, though they just represents what happens around us, that makes people think am a porn-writer, which I am not.”

Nietzche is his “master” and his works are a celebration of life.

He thinks it is extremely lamentable that writers today reject each other and fight to get better readership and commercial value. He points out: “While Latin American countries either celebrate their writers and make them ambassadors or kill them, in our land they are not even given recognition.”

To him web is an easier space to write without much investment, unlike the early days of having to get your works published, and at times going to the extent of pledging your personal belongings to finance your work.

He thinks the biggest failure in our society is the pseudo intellects and the kind of following they get. On a scandalous note he winds up saying, “I am not averse to anyone. I just want to prevent the dangerous things they are doing to the language.”

The session also saw an interesting reading of excerpts in Tamil from his book ‘Zero Degree’ and the translated versions by Rakesh Khanna and Kaveri, much to the delight of the audience.

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