Swati Chandra | October 27, 2017
Nikhil Sachan is one of the most promising names among contemporary Hindi writers. His first book, Namak Swadanusar, a collection of short stories published in 2013, was praised widely in literary circles. It also made it to BBC Hindi’s top 10 books of the year. Born in Kanpur, he studied engineering from IIT BHU and completed a management course from IIM Kozhikode. After another anthology of short stories, Zindagi Aais Pais, Sachan has recently released a full-length novel, UP 65, which he says is not a typical college story but is relatable to anyone of any age who has been to or lived in Banaras.
In the preface of ‘UP 65’ you mention that Hindi has less number of authors but many critics. Can you explain?
Hindi doesn’t have a wide readership now. Hindi mein likhne walon ka utna achha reception nahi hota jitna angrezi mein likhne walon ka hota hai (Hindi writers are not well received as compared to their English counterparts). Critics question your content. Questions are raised on the style, language and linguistic experiments.
When did you realise that writing is your call?
I have been writing from the very beginning and was always inclined towards Hindi literature. During college days, I always had it in my mind that I would get published someday.
Your writing has glimpses of local languages of Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, pure Hindi as well as Urdu. How do you experiment?
It is necessary to keep the language simple. It should appear familiar to people. If the language appears tough to readers, they might find it a heavy read. Hindi padhna waise bhi ab logo ko boring lagne laga hai (Reading Hindi appears boring to people). The journey of my language began in the towns of UP. I am an avid reader. So, I assimilated both of these in my language.
How do you take the epiphany to its culmination into a story or novel?
Every writer has a different process for this. When I get an idea, I sketch a draft and draft it further for days. On realising that the sketch is ready, I start writing.
What do you think is the future of Hindi literature?
Hindi’s narrow readership is a concern. Publishers have no faith in Hindi literature. The publishing and distribution industry need to change their outlook for Hindi. About 90 percent of my books are sold online. Only a few copies make it to the bookstores. Enter any bookshop, you will find that the share of Hindi books in the bestsellers category is only 10-20 percent. Books are not reaching bookstores or readers. Unless this outlook changes, nothing will change for Hindi literature.
What do you think of literature festivals?
I have attended quite a few festivals and I find the concept really encouraging. Earlier, only established and senior writers used to be the part of such festivals, however, these days literature festivals are open to young writers as well.
Are you planning to write for films?
I am not putting in any conscious effort right now. I may write. Things are in the pipeline.
Don’t you want to switch to full-time writing?
Writing in Hindi is not financially fruitful. Until I complete a couple of assignments for films, it won’t be a wise idea.
(The interview appears in the October 31, 2017 issue)
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