January 25, 2020
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Karthika Nair

The Paris-based author on her love for poetry and dance, and scripting Akram Khan’s Desh.

Karthika Nair
Karthika Nair

Co-scripting British-Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan’s Desh. How’d that happen?

Akram and his producer Farooq Chaudhry invited me to script the piece. A surprise, because they usually work with established artists.

You call yourself a poet first. Did prose happen by accident?

I am a little suspicious of my own prose. Then Desh happened. It was a script. But the script also produced The Boy, the Bees & Bonbibi.

What’s Bonbibi all about?

Bonbibi is a fable about a very popular goddess in the Sunderbans. It’s an illustrated children’s book that will be published next year.

What inspired you to work on the Mahabharata epic?

It’s a remarkable epic for so many reasons: its positioning of gods as imperfect, its refusal to carve out a central protagonist; of moral ambiguity that it imbues the characters with.

What has been your most memorable moment as a writer?

The premiere of Desh, the fulfilment in watching words become kinetic, aural, visual, magically alive—and knowing that alchemy exists.

Juggling performing arts and writing....

My day job as a dance producer and curator does influence a lot of my poetry. It’s demanding and intrusive, so I write whenever I can.

Any connection between dance and writing?

A profound one. And it is one of most challenging things to capture in writing. Movement, dance, surround us.

What made you write Indian poetry/books?

I didn’t really think about it. Writing’s a way of being alive. An invigorating, pain-free breath.

What else are you passionate about?

Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. Or his creations, rather.

Future plans?

I never make plans. Plans have an alarming way of trying to take over life. And the future’s always been a nebulous word.

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