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Poetic Depiction


Anand Prakash

KUCHH RANG BENOOR
By Suryanath Singh
Indraprastha , Delhi, 2010

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 2 Febuary 2011

At present, Hindi short fiction, an important genre emerging in the postIndependence period, is at a crossroads. After confrontingNai Kahani(New Short Story) andAkahani (AntiShort Story) movements, this fiction moved towards commitment in the nineteen seventies; here it dwelt persistently on themes of exploitation, injustice and oppression. Interestingly, the seventies also saw the emergence ofSamantar Kahani (Parallel Short Story) that adopted the stance of being rooted in the contemporary situation. Also, theSamantar Kahani felt threatened by the thematically committed stream and was avowedly sceptical about writers such as Bhairav, Markandeya, Amarkant, Shekhar Joshi, Israil, and Vijaykant, to name a few; these writers believed in stressing the desirability of taking up cudgels against the surrounding bourgeois society and culture. The nineteen eighties and nineties were witness to experimentation in the short story genre even as the new crop of writers in these decades adopted a centrist approach. Both experimentation and centrism remain the hallmark of short fiction in the first few years of the twentyfirst century, too. However, debates about Hindi writing in general and short story in particular tell unmistakably of a scene powered by ideas and opinions. These come to mind, understandably, when we look at Suryanath Singhs short story collection under review. By the authors own admission, the stories in the collection are poetic depictions of the actualthey evoke rather than tell or explain. Making words do service to capture moments of life, the writer seeks to convey shades that disturb as well as amuse. There is a sense behind descriptions, call it the authorial intent if you like; it raises questions about society generally and the attitude adopted by characters specifically. The evocative nature of comments impresses on many an occasion. InKuchh Rang Benoor (Faded Colours), for instance,darkness and fog descend on the village together at dusk ... as the houses and trees are engulfed in the fog, with faces of the people in the village becoming unrecognizable (p. 70). Suryanath Singhs short introductory note refers to the pressures under which stories included in the book and a few others took shape. One important compulsion came in the form of the Gujarat riots that urged him to make a statement. This was the broader inspiration to write fiction. Going theoretical, Singh states thatsometimes conditions change the individual and at other times, the individual changes himself in the course of watching the changing conditions ... My attempt is to comprehend ...


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