9th January 2018
The 52nd An Author’s Afternoon session presented by Shree Cement was the first one in 2018 with the very multifaceted Dr Kusum Ansal as the guest author. With someone who has authored 32 books including short stories, travelogues, novels, autobiography and plays there was no dearth of topics to discuss. Dr Lavlin Thadani, chairperson of Muskan Productions, who has pioneered many breakfast shows and anchored innumerable shows and whom Dr Ansal fondly calls “Chutki” was the conversationalist for the session. Needless to say they were on the same wavelength right from the word go.
Dr Lavlin guided the session adeptly, asking Dr Ansal about the highs and lows of her life. Dr Ansal shared her life’s journey from a humble middle-class background to losing her mother when she was an infant and being adopted by her aunt in Aligarh followed by early marriage and motherhood and after that how her literary journey began. The turning point in her life came when she joined Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA).
Dr Lavlin artfully helped Kusum to unveil her many hues – a poet, a sensitive writer with an eye for the detail, screenplay writer and so on. Dr Kusum scaled many little Mount Everests of her own in her career spanning decades, creating in the process numerous characters and breathing life into them. And then, often being influenced in real life by the very characters she created. Perhaps, her philanthropic dispensations stem from her sensitive nature pained by many social issues.
Dr Ansal recounted her journey to South Africa where she stayed on for months researching and probing. The fruit of her efforts was her book “Beyond Silence” - a saga on the Indian community in South Africa and their historical struggle against a sordid society and regime of the past. Dr Ansal also recounted the miserable life of the widows of Vrindavan by reciting a touching poem and also alluded to her book on them called “Widows of Vrindavan”.
Another milestone in her life was when film director Late Basu Bhattacharya made a film based on her novel “Panchavati”. Writing the screenplay for the film was Kusum’s maiden venture.