Varanasi novelist gets Sahitya Akademi award

After his popular work Kashi Ka Assi failed to get him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award, Kashi Nath Singh, Hindi litterateur from Varanasi, is happy to get it for a novel based on globalisation and its impact on the villages.

Singh has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi for his novel Rehan Ka Ragghu, along with 21 other writers in different languages across the country.

Talking to The Indian Express over phone on Thursday, Singh said: "I had lost hope of getting any award for Kashi Ka Assi. It was a popular novel but was often dismissed because of liberal use of the language with local flavour. Logon ne use gaaliyon ka pulinda hee man liya (people dismissed it as a collection of abuses). But now, I am extremely happy to receive the award for a work that underlines the impact globalisation is having on villages. Perhaps it is a fact that the field of literature is dominated by elitism. Otherwise, the novel Kashi Ka Assi was more popular."

Published in 2008, Kashi Ka Assi, which captures the eccentricities of Varanasi displayed most prominently on its ghats, is now a feature film called Mohalla Assi directed by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi. Dwivedi has been associated with popular and critically acclaimed television serial Chanakya and also made a film Pinjar based on the novel by the same name written by Amrita Pritam.

Singh, however, said he never wrote with films or theatre in mind. "Writing for films takes the sheen away from the litterateur. Take the example of Kamleshwar. He wrote par excellence as a writer but it took time for people to accept him as a serious writer because he wrote for films. For that matter, Kashinama - based on Kashi Ka Assi - has been staged nearly 125 times in India and abroad. But I did not write the book with film or theatre in mind. It was the directors of these two mediums who found potential in the story to be developed as a play and a movie," said Singh.

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