Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An interview with Ashtamoorthu - Malayalam Short story writer

Ashtamoorthi K V has become a name to conjure with, though when pursuing his passion quietly through the years, he had little thoughts of winning accolades. This short story writer, hailing from the cultural capital of Kerala, commenced his writing career as a novelist. But it was in the genre of short story writing that he made his own mark. Ashtamoorthi started writing at a very young age and was much of a dabbler in poetry in his formative years. “Though I started writing at a very young age, I glossed over my passion for writing for long years. My stories first got published in the college magazine,” he says. It came as a surprise to him, when one of his short stories was published in Mathrubhumi weekly in 1981 without any hassles, which also proved to be a turning point in his life as a writer. In 2010, his collected works was released by M T Vasudevan Nair. A new work, ‘Ayal Kathayezhuthan Pokukayanu’ is set to be published soon.

Ashtamoorthi, who lives with his wife at Arattupuzha, Thrissur, was quite nostalgic while talking about his first published novel, ‘Rehearsal Camp’ where he had narrated the lives of drama artistes, who had come to perform for a festival, in the temple near his home. “They had come for a short stay in my out house and their lives intrigued me for a while, which soon transformed into a novel, the only novel I have written so far,” he says. He won the Kumkumam award for the same novel in 1982. When asked why he had given up novel writing, he says he got stuck in the craft of short story writing too deeply and applauds also came to him much easily in that medium that he got “apprehensive about treading the long winding path of novel writing”.

Ashtamoorthi has no regrets about not having created any character that has made a lasting impression on the readers’ mind. “It was always the situations that had a sway in my stories and not characters,” he says. He has always preferred to write in a simple way. “My writing is not confusing for I never believed in complicating the readers’ experience or giving them any unwanted strain to comprehend what I have to say to them,” he says. Talking about the inspirations for his writing, he says he was amazed by the impact the city of ‘Bombay’ had on his life, during his stay there. In later times, it proved to be a fertile ground for his writing. “I grew up reading M T Vasudevan Nair’s works and it was definitely a source of inspiration,” he says.

The writer also confides that he is quite apprehensive now a days as he feels he is repeating himself. “When many of my readers call me to appreciate my works, they would say that they could identify the author of the story from the style. They did not even have to look who has written the story. Though they say it as a compliment, I am afraid of typecasting myself,” he says. Though he has two awards to his credit, he says he was not awed by them. For him, winning the awards were sheer accidents. He remembered that there were many instances when an award-winning author’s works did not reach the readers. Ashtamoorthi bagged Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Avan Veedu Vittu Pokunnu’ in 1992. ‘La Patha Kathakal’, ‘Kathasaaram’, ‘Pakal Veedu’, ‘Marana Siksha’ etc. are some of his other works. During his busy schedules, he has never forgotten to maintain a good circle of friends - Ashokan Cheruvil, another well-known writer in Malayalam whose camaraderie and works he enjoys, being the author’s dearest friend as well as trusted critic.

His columns for Janayugam news paper has had a wide readership. His blog www.ashtamoorthi.blogspot.com (Vicharam) has almost all of his works. Now that he has retired from SNA Oushadhasala Pvt. Ltd, where he was working as an accountant, Ashtamoorthi feels he can finally have ample time for his writings.

by Shalet Jimmy

(published in the New Indian Express)

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