Daughter of litterateur Vidyadhar Pundalik, 44-year-old Monika Gajendragadkar, never wanted to become a writer. It was editor and publisher SP Bhagwat, founder of Mouj Prakashan, who recognised her talent and encouraged her to take up story writing seriously. She will be honoured with the Priya GA Kathakaar award on December 11 at Balshikshan Mandir, MES hall, Kothrud. The award is instituted by Pune-based Aashay Sanskrutik and family members of late litterateur, GA Kulkarni. Editor of the well-known Mouj Prakashan, Mumbai, she is disturbed by the dearth of good short story writers. Lamenting that quality writing was becoming rare, she said senior writers need to shoulder the responsibility of shaping young talent to mould quality writers. An MPhil in Marathi, she is known for her short story collections like Aarta and Bhoop. Here are excerpts of an interview DNA had with her:
What is the status of Marathi short story writing? How popular is it with readers?
Though we have had a rich tradition of short story writing in Maharashtra, it is difficult to find good short story writers today. Their numbers are diminishing. A katha (short story) has been a significant form of literature, a strong medium to reach out to the masses. But due to the lack of good short stories, this once popular form is losing out on its readers. Bookshelves now have more of personality development books, cookery guides and novels; but short stories are vanishing from newspapers and magazines. It is only when we give something good to readers that we get readers. Unless there is quality, literature cannot grow. We even face problems in getting good writing for Diwali issues these days.
What should be done to popularise story writing?
We need to groom short story writers to make people read short stories. At the same time, good short stories need good exposure. A short story is a beautiful blend of real life and fiction, where the writer treats an experience artistically. Short stories used to be an integral part of Marathi newspaper supplements. Newspapers, magazines and book publishers have to help this form of literature grow and reach out to more people. Some magazines have been conducting competitions for good story writers, which is a good move. Also, senior writers have to pick up young talent and mould them. Training camps for guidance on story writing can be a medium to hunt for new talent.
From poetry, journalism, short stories to editorship in Mouj, you have come a long way. What are your future plans?
My next collection of short stories, Shilp, will hit the stands in February 2011. I started with poetry while I was in school, but later stopped writing poems. After marriage, I shifted to Mumbai from Pune and started freelancing. It was in 1990 that I wrote the first short story, which never got published. When I handed it over to SP Bhagwat, he guided me about story writing. The art grew under his guidance and my first collection Bhoop was published in 1997. Later, I started assisting him at Mouj. My mentor’s demise in 2007 was a great loss to me. But he had assigned to me the responsibility of Mouj Prakashan before his death.