“The only way a man could defy time was to leave behind buildings that would not die.”― Kiran Nagarkar in Cuckold
Fierce yet lyrical, political yet irreverent…Kiran Nagarkar, known as one of the leading lights of modern literature, passed away in Mumbai on Thursday, 5th of September.
Kiran Nagarkar’s Work
Sahitya Akademi award winner and author of eight critically-acclaimed novels, Nagarkar began his career as an educationist, journalist and a screenplay writer for advertisements. Kiran Nagarkar’s first book, Saat Sakkam Trechalis was published in 1974, which was later translated from Marathi to English and published in 1980.
Cuckold (1997), his most acclaimed work was celebrated widely in the literary circles and brought him Sahitya Akademi Award in 2001. With Meerabai’s husband, Bhoj Raj as the protagonist of the story, the book is an unconventional take on love, politics, and pragmatism. In an interview, Nagarkar said, “My Meera isn’t a cluster of cliches”, talking about the book.
In 2006, his book God’s Little Soldier was published, stirring a political discourse about the New India, bigotry and extremism in religions.
Kiran Nagarkar’s well-known play, Bedtime Stories (1978) received wide-spread flake from Hindu fundamentalists and was banned in Maharashtra for 17 years, accusing the literature of being provocative and offensive to fundamental Hindu parties. The play was later published in the form of a book.
Jasoda, published in 2018, Nagarkar offered an unflinching perspective to the stories of women whose heroic struggles generally go unrecognized. The book told the story of post-liberalization India and a common man’s ordeal against ‘development’.
Deeds That Cancelled All Of The Above
Strikingly opposite to the reflection of his personality in his political and literary work, Nagarkar was outed by three women journalist for inappropriate sexual behavior during India’s #MeToo storm.
The first allegation posted by Sandhya Menon on Twitter revealed the story of a journalist who was harassed by Kiran Nagarkar in a hotel room, where they had met for an interview. She shared how the novelist pulled her in a forced hug and asked her Skype with him at night.
“I can still remember him lingering on my bra strap”, she said.
The second allegation was made by Poorva Joshi who accused Nagarkar of inappropriate behavior such as sitting too close to her during the interview and asking for a hug at the end of the interview. “His hands lingered on my arms after, as he held my hand, asking me to keep in touch”, she recounted. She said that the environment at Kiran Nagarkar’s home was “one of the most uncomfortable ones I have been in.”
The third allegation was made by a Times of India journalist from Chennai, Shilpi Guha, who accused Kiran Nagarkar of inappropriately touching her during the interview.
“I was pretty shaken up when it happened a few more times… I froze and didn’t know how to excuse myself from the discussion. I was close to tears but somehow managed to move his arm and excuse myself from the conversation,”Shilpi said.
Nagarkar strongly denied these allegations and defended himself with, “I am not trying to deny that it has affected me”, in an interview. No further investigation was carried out, but the accusations were not retracted by any of the three women.
Remembering Kiran Nagarkar for the building he left behind.
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