Kavita Kane, a senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, she quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Poona, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Karna’s Wife is her debut novel, released in 2013 which was a bestseller the credit to which she gives entirely to the protagonist Karna – the most enigmatic, popular and the most tragic character in Indian mythology.
The second novel – Sita’s Sister – out in December 2014, also deals with another enigmatic personality – Urmila, Sita’s sister and Lakshman’s wife who silently braved tears and tragedy those fourteen years of separation, living her own private exile. She is probably the most overlooked character in the Ramayan.
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , she currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband, two teen daughters, Dude, the friendly Rottweiler and Babe, the unfriendly cat.
NAW- Tell us about your book, Sita’s Sister. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about?
Not many know that in the epic Ramayan, Sita’s younger sister Urmila, was married to Lakshman, Ram’s brother. The book is about this extraordinary woman. Urmila was the bride Lakshman left behind in the palace of Ayodhya while he accompanied his brother in the 14 year exile. It is her untold story, her personal exile, her travails, trials and tribulations as she waited for him, but yet lived her life without tears and self-sympathy. She was a strong woman but not much is known about her as she unfortunately is one of the most overlooked character in the epic. She fascinated me and the fact that I didn’t have much on her made her all the more enigmatic. I wanted to unravel that enigma.
NAW- What drew you to mythology?
It’s sheer depth, diversity and dynamism forms the perfect canvas for your own thought and argument. Indian mythology is like a living past, an ancient fiction which is still very close to us in our daily life – we have theatre, songs, folk lore and even those ancient names we thoroughly enjoy to christen our sons and daughters!
NAW- How long did you take to finish the book? Given that peripheral characters are not developed and elaborated upon in Indian epics, how did you research for the book?
The actual writing took about six months but the research was exhaustive and exhausting! And where Urmila was concerned, there was nothing much about her at all besides a mention and some stray incidents. And I had to flesh out her character and an entire novel based on these skeletal facts. That was where I had to juggle fact and fiction.
NAW- What can a novice reader expect from Sita’s Sister?
It is not a retelling of the Ramayan. It is not about Sita as seen through her sister’s eyes. It is about Urmila, a young strong-willed girl and her journey as she grows into a woman waiting for her husband’s return but by also building a life and identity for herself. It is about love and separation, faith and disillusionment and also a story of these four sisters (the younger two were cousins) from Mithila who married the four princes of Ayodya. It is about them and the life in the palace once Ram left for his exile with Sita and Lakshman.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
My debut novel released last year was Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen and as the title says, it was about Karna, the tragic hero of the epic Mahabharat as seen through his wife’s eyes. And how inevitably she too led his life of hurt and humiliation yet won her war in the end. Sita’s Sister is my second novel.
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey.
I was a journalist and Features Editor of a local daily before I picked up the pen to write my first novel. And I was clueless about the publishing world. I didn’t have an agent and I blindly sent the first three chapters of my manuscript to all the leading publishing houses of the country. I had my share of rejection and recognition! Fortunately, the book got published soon after!
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
Watching films! I love cinema and try to watch at least three good films in a week. And I love being at home hanging with my two grown up teenaged daughters and husband and being with the family. The best time is when the four of us are together – which is not too often as my husband is a mariner.
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
I don’t have any favourites – I love and respect all those writers who have influenced me all through my learning years. It is a continuous process. Each writer has his/her individual charm and argument that woos you and it’s not fair singling one or a few out. All helped me to become the person I am today.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
Guess mythology again – I can’t seem to resist it!
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