Interview: Swati Kale discusses her journey of writing a thought provoking book 

Prof Dr Shiv Sethi

Swati Kale discusses her journey of writing a thought provoking book about the great epic ‘Mahabharata’ and also, translating many books
from English to Marathi.Eminent writer of “Goshtipalikadche Mahabharata’ is also a renowned translator of English books  “Dogboy”
,”I am another you”,”ten amazing teachers in the world”.
She  has also compiled the history  of Indirect Taxation since 1935 and has written a book “Yesterday Today and Tomorrow of Indirect Taxation’ which has won many acclodes.By profession,a bureaucrat,she believes in the famous quote of George Elliot; ‘lt is never too late to be what you might have been.’
Her recent book , ‘Goshtipalikadche Mahabharat’ received many prestigious awards and established her as a literary marvel and embodiment of creativity. Here are the excerpts of the conversation depicting her glorious journey so far.

Question:Was it difficult to write on Mahabharata?

Ans:I was not sure if I would do justice to such a vast and intricate subject.but I took up Vyasa’s Mahabharata as a challenge.It was a
struggle writing on this great epic as all the events happen at many different planes.There are multiple existences of the same
character.Mahabharata happens on many different  planes at the same time.It happens on metaphysical level and at the same time ,on the
existential level.and yes, understanding the different levels and writing about them was challenging.

Ques:How did you start writing?

Ans: Anne Frank said, “I can shake off everything as I write,my sorrows disappear.My courage is reborn.” In my childhood,I always wrote a diary and forgot everything about the world.As a child,I was always surrounded by authors.My grandfather was an advocate and author.My father was a historian,and my mother too is a renowned author.So,writing is in my blood.It just happened naturally.Journey started without knowing it was a journey.

Ques:Tell us about your other interests other than  writing.

I like to travel,read and study in different areas of Academics.I am  visharad in Kathak Classical dance, completed my graduation in French, comparative Mythology and Indian Aesthetics.Apart from Law background,I also completed Masters in Archaeology.I love to explore different fields as I believe,Versatility is the extra string to a player’s bow.

Ques: Do you think ,Mahabharata is still relevant to us?

Ans:Few years back,I was doing a project on ‘Pandavani’.It is a folkart form of Mahabharata and I had the opportunity to talk to Padmavibhushan Tijjanbai who is a Pandavani artist from Chhattisgarh. During that period,I researched intensively about this great epic and had a revelation that this ancient epic is relevant to us even today.There is still a conflict existing between two ideologies.I would mention two ideologies as nothing is in black and white in this world.There is always a  shade of grey in between.When I started writing,I felt as if an invisible hand was guiding me to write about this great epic.

Ques:What is your take about the status of Indian women in the Mahabharata period?

Ans:The status of women in the context of emerging janapadas in the epic period and the new changing dynamics of the nascent  agrarian society is the subject matter of deep research.However,there are many instances where one can observe that women in Mahabharata had their independent existence which was used cleverly in the given sociopolitical context.Thought processes of women in Mahabharata are genuinely independent. Satyabhama was an equal partner of Krishna and so was Droupadi.

Ques:Please tell me about your translation experience.

Ans: Translation  is my passion and I translated many English books into Marathi.”.Dogboy”, “I am another you”, “Ten amazing women teachers in the world” are some of my translation works. As I always feel, translation work is more difficult than writing my own book.Translator reads author’s mind without interfering with his own imagination.Translator must be wise enough  to understand the nuances of the words.

Ques:Are you a disciplined  or spontaneous writer?

Ans: I am a blend of both. For my research work, I spend many sleepless nights in the solitary confinement.While writing ‘Goshtipalikadche Mahabharat’,I used to spend whole day in libraries for collecting references.As every written word required a thorough research and deep understanding of the subject.At the same time,my take on Vyasa Mahabharata has plenty of soulful moments, moments of creativity and spontaneous overflow of emotions recollected in tranquillity.
So,I feel,I have the mind of a spontaneous writer with a soul of researcher.

Ques: What do you like to read?Do you get influenced by the books that you read?

Ans:I mostly read Philosophy,mythological fiction books,Biographies,Autobiographies.I don’t get easily influenced by any book or writer.but I read some books repeatedly.My all time favourite is the classic novel “Gone with the wind”. Dan Brown’s ” Angels and demons”, “The da Vinci code” and “Lost symbol”. Among
Marathi authors, I like G.A.Kulkarni. But most of the time,I read research books.

Ques:Do you think interpreting the events of mythology is relevant today?

Ans:I feel,retellings and interpretations are always important as they remind the readers of their culture and heritage.They are relevant today as the new
generation can easily connect to the roots through our heritage.They should know they belong to the rich inheritance and culture.My book aims to convey this message.Also,there is a difference between mythological fiction and retellings of mythology which one needs to understand.

Ques:How do you decide to start writing?

Ans:I like to write  something which is supported by my research work.My writing is never purely fictional.So,I always start my research and dive deep into the subject  and then start to write. But,who knows,in future,I may write fiction.

Ques:What do you think about today ‘s trend of adapting books to the large screen.

Ans:Book reading has many options today.OTT platforms are in search of stories constantly.Adapting books to large screens is a good trend as authors get the bread and butter and audience also get to see some good screenplays.

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