The fall of a leader.

Lost reverence for VS Achuthanandan Writer wants his book on the leader dropped
news Literature Wednesday, November 09, 2016 - 15:46

“I can’t let his shadow be cast on my literary career spanning three decades. He has fallen in my eyes, by clinging on to power even at this stage of his life. He no longer inspires me.” 

These are novelist P Surendran’s words, as he begins to speak about his controversial Malayalam novel “Greeshma Mapini” -loosely based on the life of veteran communist leader and nonagenarian VS Achuthanandan and other Left heroes of Kerala. 

Six years after its release, Surendran has now decided against any more reprints of the same, as the Leftist trailblazer whom he once revered, has now lost his halo, according to him.

A recipient of the prestigious Kerala Sahithya Academy Award, Odakkuzhal Award and Padmarajan Award among others, Surendran had penned “Greeshma Mapini” in 2010, published by DC books.

The novel had generously borrowed from the lives of many communist veterans including EMS Namboothiripad, Comrade Kunhali and VS Achuthanandan. But it was wrongly interpreted and to a great extent, limited to being described as VS’ biography, Surendran tells The News Minute.

“The main character CK is not based solely on Achuthanandan, but was built incorporating myriad elements from other communist leaders too. Instead of focusing on its narrative style and merits, it has since been read as his biography,” he rues.

Even with almost 3000 copies sold, Surendran decided to discontinue further prints. He would retain his authorship, but does no longer want to stake claim to it.

“I cannot possibly withdraw my work….it is out there….people have read it. But as its creator, I have decided that I do not want it to be known as one of my works….not anymore,” he avers.

Drawing inspiration from VS' life had made the novel a controversial one, even at the time of its publication. But in the years that followed, this literary piece somehow became synonymous with the leader himself, thereby portraying Surendran as a VS sycophant.

"It took the right wing to make an exceptional author like Perumal Murugan to even be noticed by the mainstream. That in itself is not something to be proud of, just as I am unable to perceive the shadow VS has cast on my literary creations as a positive stroke,” he remarks.

Surendran claims to be apolitical these days, with VS -who had once upon a time inspired him- having lost his charismatic sheen in his eyes. Surendran firmly believes that VS should not have deigned to contest the recently held state Assembly elections in Kerala. That he chose to do so, only revealed his greed for power. 

The ‘fall’, according to Surendran, began when VS began to toe the party line, be it in the TP Chandrashekharan murder case, or how he approached the 2016 state polls.

"He is one leader who rose in the eyes of the common man through his political stance that chose not to be dictated to, even by the party. But it is no longer so. Now, we see a VS who hungers after power, a VS who demands a cabinet post. Earlier, the VS tag that my novel bore disquieted me, but now, it has become unbearable.”

Deciding against bringing out any more prints is also a mark of protest against the Malayali readers, who are not able to appreciate the literary aspects of a work, he opines: "This one book seems to overshadow all my other literary works. I do not want to be known as someone who authored VS' biography." 

He sees nothing unusual about his present stance, as people do evolve over a period of time, and so do their politics and their sense of identity. 

"Once I asked Kanu Sanyal -one of the leaders of Naxalbari uprising- what inspired him to quit violence, and opt to form a political party instead. The answer he gave is apt in this context, that is, penning this book was the right thing to do at the time. A sense of right and wrong too however does evolve over the years. Not going for reprints happens to be today's right.”

(Edited by Chintha Mary Anil)

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