Interviewed by Daniel Thimmayya for The New Indian Express, January 21, 2012
They say that Charu Nivedita is a man born of fierce passion and sardonic satire. One of Chennai’s favourite literary sons, even this post-modern Tamil writer could not help but confess that he was “excited” at being a part of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012.
Touted as the biggest confluence of writers, poets, politicians, speakers and literary junkies to gather under one majestic roof on the continent, this has given the Exile author the opportunity to hobnob with some of the world’s biggest names.
But despite sharing literary space with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Shashi Tharoor, Deepak Chopra and even Javed Akhtar, Charu’s sights are set on one person primarily. “I’m a huge fan of William Dalrymple,” he gushes. “Right from the time I read his In Xanadu, I’ve been hooked. I saw him when he came in this morning, but haven’t spoken (to him) yet,” he says and adds as a determined afterthought, “I will definitely meet him tomorrow!”
But when asked about what it was like to be around so many writers and revolutionary essayists, Charu made a strange observation, “They’re very decent….Such gentlemen. Most of them are so revolutionary on paper, but when I met them in person they are actually so docile and quiet,” he says and reasons that this is a collateral damage that comes with increasing power and popularity. He begs to differ, “I’m going to kick up a storm during my session tomorrow.”
JLF 2012 will see three sessions where Charu will be voicing his forthright views. “The major portion of my talks will be focused on censorship and dissent, besides handling one session with writer Bama Faustina called ‘Two voices from Tamil’”, he told City Express from Jaipur. On how he came to be invited for this event that is expected to have close to 70,000 attendees at the Diggi Palace, he says, “My writing was really noticed during the Hay Festival earlier this year. The organisers were very impressed with my voice of dissent against politicians through fiction and word got around to the JLF organisers too.”
But there’s more: “So many Tamil writers are amazing writers but they cannot imagine coming to a place like this (JLF). Why? Simply because they do not publish their works in English,” he reveals. “Most people here and across the world remember me for Zero Degree, because the satire and fire is maintained through translation.”