“Future of creative writing is good in J&K”

Ashok Sharma
Prakash Chander Sharma, popularly known as Prakash Premi is a household name not only in Udhampur but also in the whole Duggar region.He is an eminent Dogri and Hindi poet,critic,short story writer,satirist,scholar and person par excellence. With a sweet smile always playing on his lips,he commands a pleasing personality and is always ready to guide and help others.Having been born in a remote village Kasuri of Tehsil Ramnagar, he received his early education in the local Primary school located at a distance of about 3 Kms from his home and then Middle School (now Hr.Sec.School) Ghordi. He had a sharp intellect right from childhood and he was encouraged by his father and uncles to learn by heart Sanskrit stotras and other religious material from scriptures.After passing the matriculation,he served for some time in Lipton India Ltd.and then got the job of a teacher.It was his posting at a remote but pictursque school in region Basantgarh, where he developed a keen interest for reading and writing.In due course of life, he came in contact with some other writers who founded organisations to promote literary activities. He continued moving from one place to another on transfer and made new friends and founded new literary organisations.In the meantime, he continued acquiring higher education did postgraduation in Hindi,Dogri and Sanskrit,in addition to the professional degree of B.Ed.The momentous time for him came in 1985 when his first epic in Dogri ‘Bedan Dharti Di ‘, masterpiece, was published which was a claimed as one the finest works of Dogri literature and it brought him Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987. There was no looking back and he continued to pursue his passion of reading and writing and composed other literary masterpieces and translated some others into Hindi and Dogri. He commands enviable respect in the social and literary circles.He retired from government service as Lecturer in the School Education Department in 2001 and started devoting full time to writing. Only a month ago, he published two books of critisism and culture titled ‘MERI NAZR CH’ and ‘GULDASTA’. Though, a septugenarian, he is quite active and agile and agreed for an interview.
Here are the excerpts from his interview :
AS: What motivated you to write and when did you start writing?
PP: The death of my mother in 1964 left a void in our life and the whole family felt disturbed.Our life became stable in 1968 when I got married to Satya Sharma who took over the responsibility of taking care of the family.I was posted at Basantgarh and It was the pristine natural beauty of Basantgarh and poverty of people living there which had a great impact on me and I started composing poems on Nature and life of poor people living there.During this time I had sufficient time before and after the school hours and I studied in detail Hindi literature.Goswami Tulsi Das, Sur Das, Prasad, Nirala and Dinkar influenced me very much. I also studied Bankim Chandra Chatterji, Sharat Chandra,Prem Chand, Tagore, George Bernard Shaw and many other writers. I also came in contact with Desh Bandhu Dogra ‘Nutan’ who provided me Marxist literature which I studied deeply and was influenced by Marx,Lenin and Mao-Tse-Tung. So I started writing progressive literature and my poems were praised by the masses.
AS: That’s great , Did you go through Dogri literature at this stage?
PP: During my service as a teacher, I visited almost the whole of Duggar and studied Dogri folklore and literature deeply. I was much influenced by Sanskrit literature and Dogri writers like Dinu Bhai Pant and KS Madhukar. So I developed keen interest in Dogri literature.
AS: What initiatives did you take to promote Dogri literature?
PP: When I was promoted as Senior Master in 1981 and posted in Hr. Sec. School, Bhaddu(Kathua), I founded ‘Kavi Dattu Sahitya Sanstha’ with the help of some local writers like Romal Singh Bhadwal, Uttam Singh Pathania, Darshan Darshi, K. K Kerni, Krishan Singh Krishan, Shiv Dev Singh Sushil and others. I am also the Co-founder of Dogra -Pahari Kala Kendera, Basantgarh, Sabras Adabi Sanstha, Batote and Rachnakar Kala Sahitya Academy, Udhampur.
AS: What are the main literary works published by you?
PP: In 1979,I published first collection of satirical and humorous articles ‘ Trumban’ In1984, my short story collection ‘Ik Kotha, Das Duar’ was published and in 1985, my first Dogri epic ‘ Bedan Dharti Di ‘was published which brought me Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987.I am also co- author of the biography on Swami Nityananda Ji and the writer of poetry collection titled ‘Lalkar’ and monographs on Prof.Shiv Nirmohi and Prof.Madan Mohan Sharma.Then I turned to translation of great literary works and translated monographs of Nirala and Dinkar from Hindi into Dogri. I also translated Mohan Singh Slathia’s award winning plays ‘ Apani Dafali Apana Rag’ from Dogri into Hindi.I also translated other writer’s works Marhi Da Deeva by Dr. Gurdial Singh (Punjabi into Dogri), Darshan Darshi ‘s Dogri novel ‘ Gaas Opera, Dhart Begani’ (Dogri into Hindi) Desh Bandhu Dogra Nutan’s novel ‘Unni Saw Santaleen ‘ ( Dogri into Hindi), Prof N Gopi’s Telugu collection of Sahitya Akademi awarded poetry ‘ Kalini Nidra Ponivannu’ (Telugu into Dogri). I have also translated many Sanskrit works including Panchstavi Bhaj Govindam and Shiv Tandava, Bhawani Ashok and Nirvana Shataka into Dogri.
AS: Which are the main awards and honours that you have received for your literary works?
PP: I received Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987 for my epic in Dogri ‘Bedan Dharti Di’. In 1997,I received J K Accession Committee Award from Dr.Karan Singh.In 2005,I was also awarded Senior Fellowship in Dogri by Ministry of Culture & Tourism and completed ‘Dogri Sahitya Ka Alochanatamak Itihas’ in 2007.I also received Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize in Dogri in 2010 for translating Punjabi novel ‘Marhi Da Deeva’. Besides, I have been honoured by many social and literary organisations of Duggar such as Dogri Sanstha ,Akashwani etc.
AS:How has life change over the past few decades?
PP: I think each period of life whether new or old is good. What matters is that we must learn the art of living and art of adjustment to new situations. Change is the law of Nature and one must accept life as it unfolds.Life is always enjoyable and a beautiful gift from God. We must learn to face the difficulties smilingly.
AS:Your views on literary output in the UT of J&K, Sir?
PP: Literary output in our state is not satisfactory, particularly in Jammu region. Basically, we are not cautious about our situations. We remain clung to the past and don’t live in the present. This tendency is very bad and we should take note of the happenings in the present and should kill the habit of saying ‘PIDARAM SULTAN BOOD’.
AS: How do you foresee the future of creative writing in J&K?
PP: Future of creative writing in J& K is good but bickerings among literary organisations and hatred among writers should be avoided. They should encourage creative writing and learn to appreciate each other’s views.
AS:What is your advice to the budding writers, Sir?
PP: Budding writers should first develop the habit of reading. They ought to go through the immortal works of great writers of different languages.They should not be in a hurry to publish more and more books. Quality must be given preference to quantity.They must be sincere about the high quality of their own creative works. The tendency of publishing of immature creations can lead them to wrong path. They should also pay attention to writing poetry and prose in an easy and understandable manner so that a common man can read their works and appreciate them.