(Last Updated on : 17/07/2010)
Before delving deeply into the exceedingly diversified genre of contemporary Indian literature, it is of tremendous importance to comprehend the fraternal terms of `modern`, `modernity` and `modernisation` in the Indian context. These three terms in the modern context are quite significant and highly condensed terms for historical experiences. Keeping in mind the chronological pattern, the twentieth century is considered to be more modern than the nineteenth century, but that does not exclude the 19th century from contemporary literature in India genre. The criterion involved here is not qualitative, but rather simplistic. Furthermore, anything which is fashionable today is considered modern whether it is desirable or not.
However, the more significant aspect of modernity is a value-based approach. Particular attitudes and ideas are conceived more progressive and hence it is natural to condition them as modern as opposed to what existed before. The chronological sense is in a way implicit in this concept. The Indian context of contemporary literature bears an essential relation with the social and political history of the country during the mid-19th century, which indeed had marked a breakthrough. English education had gradually disseminated in India during the first half of the 19th century, but its effect is seen manifestly in Indian literary creation only in the second half of the century. A new approach towards literature had emerged in the major languages. There indeed had existed an unambiguous novelty in form and content, mostly in both literatures, as form and content are always cohesively bound together.
Language in Contemporary Indian Literature
The distinct Indian flavour was back in the English language and thus the works of the modern Indian writers reflected the Indianised English. Be it Salman Rushdie, Shahshi Tharoor or Amitav Ghosh the deconstruction of the British of English was quite evident. The regional languages were freely used in the prose forms; thus once again breaking, restructuring and adding a new twist and dimension to the traditional narrative patterns. . Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi writers adhered to the `modern` and `post modern` idiom of writing. For instance, Mulk Raj Anand`s work is replete with Hindi and Punjabi words like `haa naa`, `saalam huzoor`, `shabash shabash` (Coolie). Most path breaking is Arundhati Roy`s use of untranslated malyalam words in day to day conversations in her The God Of Small Things
like `chacko sir vannu`, `she is very beautiful sundarikutty`, `oower, orkunniley, kushambi.`
As far as poetry was concerned, it did not necessarily rhyme. Rather rhyme was done away with consciously to bring forth the discordance in the life of modern man. Both Indian English and regional poems deliberately distanced themselves from rhythm.
Themes in Contemporary Indian Literature
Post independence, India was faced with a number of crises including social, political and economic. The society was in a continuous state of flux. This time the writers were no more eulogising their nation. Rather they were bringing to the forefront the reality through their works. Both verse and prose were time and again emphasising on the dominant crises. In order to establish a new narrative, to break away from the colonial mind set, contemporary Indian writers adapted new narrative patterns to put through their notions.
Experimentation in Contemporary Indian English Literature
Making a move from the 18th or 19th century, that had indeed sowed the budding phase of then referred contemporary Indian literature, writers belonging to contemporary India are additionally very conscious about their own culture and traditions. Hence can be witnessed a massive body of vernacular language and literature flourishing in it. While some of the authors pen in English, most of them continue to write in their colloquial languages. The philosophy and thought behind their works exhibit influences of western thoughts and principles. It is quite laudable that these authors have been successful enough to maintain the unique flavour of their region in their works and tinge it further with a modern dimension The literary genre of the contemporary Indian literature are manifold. Present Indian readers have novels, plays, short stories, literary criticism, science fiction and poetry to choose from.
Contemporary Indian Regional Literature
Besides the Indian English Literature, the regional literature o the subcontinent reflected significant changes as well. For instance, in Marathi literature changes were creeping in after 1800which was the period of intellectual fervour and reformist didactism. Many English books were translated in Marathi. Ram Ganesh Gadkari and Prahlad Keshav are also shared the stage with stalwarts like, Mohan Agashe, Sriram Lagoo, Kashinath Ghanekar, Prabhakar Panshikar started playing many immortal characters written by geniuses like Vasant Kanetkar, Kusumagraj, Vijay Tendulkar
. This movement in drama was suitably supported by Marathi films which did not become a roaring success. There were pioneers like V.Shantaram and Dadasaheb Phalke
and Marathi cinema had a tremendous impact on contemporary film industry.
Modern Marathi poetry commenced with the works of Jyotibha Phule but the later poets like Keshuta Balakavi, Ravi Kiran Mandal wrote poetry inspired by romantic and Victorian English tradition. But the major paradigmatic shift occurred in the mid forties with the poetry of Mardhekar and in the nineties in the hands of Abhidhanantar and Shabadavedh. The Little Magazine movement which became powerful in the fifties because of radical and path breaking writings gained momentum in the nineties too in the hands of Manya Joshi, Hemant Divate and Sachin Ketkar.
Similar developments were also witnessed in the South Indian literary circles. In the 19th century the south Indian literature was inspired by European genres but in the end of the century things started to change with the help of modern writers like VVS Aiyar and Subhramania Bharati who started developing new forms. Modern south Indian literature boasts of great stalwarts who have left their imprint on the mind of numerous readers the world around.
Indian Contemporary Litterateurs
Contemporary writers like Jhaver Chand Meghani, Dharamvir Bharati, Mulk Raj Anand
, Arundhati Roy
, Vikram Seth
, Jhumpa Lahiri
and Amitav Ghosh
have won international awards and put India firmly on the world`s literary map. The two most famous names are the Mumbai
born Salman Rushdie
who received a booker price for his Midnight`s Children and the Keralan author Arundhati Roy
who also bagged a booker for her God of Small Things. Other important writers are Shashi Deshpande
whose A Matter Of Time revolves around the problems in the middle class household when the husband leaves; Rohinton Mistry`s Family Matters and Fine Balance where he deals with Indian society keeping Mumbai as the background. R.K. Narayan is another renowned south Indian writer who scaled great heights with his works revolving around the south Indian small towns of Malgudi. His chief works are Swami and his Friends, The Financial Expert, The Guide, Waiting for the Mahatma and Malgudi Days. Kamala Markandaya`s
Nector in a Sieve describes the heart wrenching struggle of a south Indian woman against the ravages of time and the destructive forces of nature.
Kaka Saheb Kalelkar is another celebrated writer in pre-independent India. His philosophical writings demonstrate his vast erudition, his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
, his essays on culture, his travelogues, his translation of Gitanjali had won him applauding appreciation from all quarters. The other eminent personalities that contributed to the literature world redefining contemporary Indian literature during this period comprise: Vempalli Gangadhar
, K.K.Munshi, Joy Somnath, Khushwant Singh
and many others.
Indian contemporary literature is colossal in its scope and encompasses literature of various genres and styles. Contemporary literature in India is influenced considerably in content by the western philosophy and thought. However it knows how exactly to maintain its unique Indian flavour and assorted richness. In the arena of international literature, contemporary Indian literature occupies a position of pride for its sumptuous affluence and originality. Literature of India still bears some of its ingrained colonial impact and present-day writers often base their works in the colonial backdrop. However, this is not something heavily peculiar for a nation under colonial rule for such an extensive period of time. Contemporary Indian writers have taken to writing in English but time and again their themes are based upon an Indian backdrop and household.