While I very much enjoyed reading ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ I was again and again bothered by the fact that I do not get to see intellectual-ism, so to speak, in Indian Modern Fiction. In whatever Indian Modern Fiction I have read, I see only two or three main streams – a transition from rural to urban or its version of from India to Abroad, if its a woman’s tale, it is always set in the context of a family (husband, mother-in-law, kids, daughter-in-law, an extra marital affair or all of them together) and finally contrasts between upper, middle and lower class. There are many others like college love stories, mythological stories with a thrilling twist (hint: Ashwin Sanghi) but they are still so bad that I am not categorizing them as literature in the true sense of the word. They are books, novels to read, probably enjoy, and then forget.
But amidst all this, where is the intellectualism?? Some authors who tend to be intellectual become too preachy, almost pontificating from a pedestal. Others, Either don’t have the capability to or don’t bother to venture in that domain. It saddens me. It saddens me because I want to read about the current intellectual discussions going on (Are they going on?) in the Indian context. And, I feel that there must be such discussions somewhere. After all, this country is going through a mini cultural, social and political crisis – the crisis of ethos.
TV debates are not doing enough justice. We see propagandists of various parties coming and spouting propaganda (what else) in the name of debate. Its an inane display of shoddy intellectualism. Those who do have a point which makes sense, are afraid to put it forth on TV. So, where are these voices going?? I am not even hearing these voices. Where are they?? Where are the thoughts which these young people are brewing in their heads?? (Well, those apart from chasing girls or imitating blindly a ‘badass’ attitude.)
Print is a very good medium to record these voices, to make them be heard or seen by a vast majority. There should be good books. This is a good time for quality indian literature.