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The other side of the coin

The other side of the coin
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They look beyond the obvious. Sauda- Aruna, the husband wife writer-duo have written stories and plays that bring in the neglected perspectives;...

They look beyond the obvious. Sauda- Aruna, the husband wife writer-duo have written stories and plays that bring in the neglected perspectives; looking at philosophy and mythology through the eyes of the dalits, the socially marginalised and ostracised sections, of the society

the2Aruna Ravi Kumar

Divisiveness perpetrated in the name of caste, religion and gender and the invisible slavery that emerges under its impact are very real in India. War, caste and religion are subjects that hold our interest and we look at philosophy and mythology from the social perspective. Writing about such themes is both our limitation and our strength".

The summing up of their work by the husband wife writer-duo Sauda-Aruna best defines them and their path breaking books and stage plays. Although both of them are writers of repute independently, they have been writing together since 1985 researching analysing and presenting their works with deep insight and perception. Sauda whose real name is Karunanidhi (which he says is forgotten by most people including his mother) initially wrote poetry and later switched to writing novels to woo his wife Aruna when they met at meetings organised by the revolutionary writers association (Virasam).

Sauda who hails from Nellore worked as a journalist with two local dailies and Aruna whose father was a communist leader was the Principal of a school at Vijayawada before they teamed up in real life and as writers. Theirs is also an inter caste marriage with Sauda belonging to the Padmashali weavers community and Aruna to the Yadava community.

The perspective of the dalits, the socially marginalised and ostracised sections forms the main theme of their works that are heavily weighed on the side of these victims. While talking about their independent works Sauda mentions his book on the Kargil war and another book called "Unprecedented mythical works" a left hand mythology.

Wife Aruna's work called 'Yelli' which had three reprints is very popular and is about the life of a girl from the downtrodden Yerukala caste. Her edited work "Pinjari", on the life of "Padma Sri awardee", Sheik Nazar, a burra katha exponent from the Pinjari caste; was also well received. Their works together are published under their own banner which was initially called 'New Syllabus Literature' but now goes under their name 'Sauda Aruna' Publications.

The duo has edited a book called "The last Brahmin" by Rani Sivasankara Sarma which they term is a work written by a "Sanatana Rebel" (ancient rebel). Their play on the last scene in Gurazada's play has been serialised in a local weekly where they express their views on how it would have ended if the writer had not compromised on his original style according to them.

Their four plays Barbareekudu, Bali-Vaamana, Mahayodha Jhalkari Bai Kori and a play on Savitri Bhai Phule have been staged successfully throughout the state raising several questions. The play on Jhalkari Bai Kori reveals that the war against the British was fought by a dalit woman named Jhalkari Bai Kori and not Jhansi Lakshmi Bai who stands as the epitome of courage in history."

Jhansi Lakshmi Bai ran away from the war field and died at the ripe old age of eighty. If you go to Jhansi, there is a place which has a board showing the spot where Jhansi Lakshmi Bai fled the battle field" say Sauda Aruna, who seek to correct what they call various distortions, manipulations and misrepresentations in history.

Sauda �Aruna have their select group of 20 artistes who play the different characters in their plays. The characters of two powerful women in their plays have ironically been played by men. "The Annihilation of Caste" by B.R.Ambedkar is one of the most profound works of our times and we were astonished to read the original work as the translations that we had read had all wrongly represented his views" say the couple who have translated it into Telugu. Ambedkar was the most original philosopher of our times who believed in the emancipation of India and neither the forward castes nor the dalits have understood him properly, they feel. "Most political parties keep Ambedkar in their pockets and serve vested interests like slaves."

All reform movements have been led by the forward castes and most great works have also been read by them. These castes do not pass on their knowledge and the "Thirst for knowledge has not percolated to the weaker sections leaving a large section of people in ignorance" they say. Another book on Communism, written by them questions the basics of this system of political thought followed by many sections of people in our country.

the3On the anvil are projects like a play called "Madhura Vani" a character from Kanyasulkam which depicts her change of heart from a woman of loose morals to a more idealistic existence. Sauda who had earlier directed a feature film says they will be making the Bali-Vaamana play into a full length feature film. Sauda-Aruna have taken a conscious decision not to write for any main stream magazines or newspapers.

Their books are available at their place and at a select counter at Navodaya publications. They also do not accept any awards, donations or help from the government. The only exception to this rule was a "life time achievement award" and a cash prize of Rs 50,000 given by an ONGC scientist from Jordan recently.

How is it for a husband �wife team to write together? I ask on the premise of the difficulties that the relationship throws up in the working sphere. "We have no difficulty whatsoever in working together but deliberations on the subject selection take up a lot of our time. We ask a thousand questions before we proceed on our work as we do not want to be one among many".

The duo say, their sole purpose is to raise their voice against inequalities of every kind that are rampant in society. Unfazed by criticism they find fulfillment in voicing their views through literary works which they believe can be vehicles of change.

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