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'Nai Kahani' was not started as a movement: Mohan Rakesh

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The 'Nai Kahani' idea was not started as a movement but it became a sort of a symbol for the efforts of those associated with it to alienate the short story from what it was after Munshi Premchand, according to one of its pioneers

(1925-1972) was one of the brains behind the Nai Kahani (New Short Story) literary movement of literature in the 1950s, the others being Kamaleshwar and

The works of are now published in a book titled "Another Life: Thirteen stories and a play".

Edited by and published by HarperCollins India, the book is a compilation with a selection of Rakesh's fiction (authorised by the himself), his play "Adhe Adhure", and two rare first-person statements which have been among the most sought after critical resources on his work - i.e. the "Self-Portrait" and a long, in-depth interview with him.

In the interview with of South Asian Literature, Rakesh says Nai Kahani was not a 'movement' which Kamaleshwar, and he started.

"The fact is that in the middle 1950s, there was a group of writers, about 10 or 12, who were primarily interested in writing short stories. All of a sudden, it seemed, there was a shift away from writing poetry to writing short stories.

"At that time, there was a desire to catch the mood of our time. It was this restlessness which led to the shift of emphasis. 'Nai Kahani' became sort of a symbol for our effort to alienate the short story from what it was after Premchand," he said.

Rakesh wrote the first modern play, "Ashadh Ka Ek Din" (1958), and made significant contribution to the forms of the novel, short story, travelogue, criticism, memoirs and drama.

"The was not started as a movement. Some of us had been writing, and with this shift of emphasis to interpreting the reality around us, many of us found that we had a great deal in common.

"This name was later given to this writing, not as it was emerging. It then came to be associated with our names, just because at one stage in the development of this type of writing, we became the spokesmen for what was then called a movement'. Because the critics failed to do so, we decided to take over and start defining for ourselves and for others just what we meant by Nai Kahani," Rakesh said.

The emphasis of the writers was on the emergence of an idea through the reality itself, not driving the idea into some sort of realistic pattern, but discovering the idea inherent in the reality itself.

"This became our distinctive point. The only good thing about this movement is that no was writing like any other. Most of the writers had their own individuality in Nai Kahani," Rakesh told the journal, of which was the Emeritus, 1963-2002.

More than a decade in the making, and put together in collaboration with the author, "Another Life: Thirteen stories and a play" makes a broad range of Rakesh's work available to English readers. The stories here range from humorous, satirical studies of human foibles, to profound, painful commentaries on the complexities of the human condition.

A translation of "Adhe Adhure", the play that thrust Indian drama into modernity and one of the finest ever written in Hindi, is included as well.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 14:10 IST