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Keshava – Bhawana Somaaya

Keshava – Bhawana Somaaya

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Keshava – Bhawana Somaaya

Shweta Kapoor

The book has a detailed explanation of the Sanskrit words and a detailed analysis of Lord Krishna’s relationship with the nature. How long did you spend researching before writing the book?

I am asked this question all the time by all the journalists and for all my books. It is a difficult question to answer because I have a regular job and I try to bring out a book a year so the safe answer would be a year of research and writing. 


Lord Krishna’s life is divided into various phases called ‘leelas’. Which part of his life would you say fascinates you the most?

I’m fascinated with his romance with Radha and like all devotees believe that on a full moon night the two of them meet at midnight in Vrindavan surrounded by fragrant flowers and dancing peacocks. They say people walk all night in Vrindavan in the hope of catching a glimpse of Kaanha. I’m as fascinated by his life as Dwarikadish, the emperor and how he balanced his love between his queens specially Goddess Rukmini and the irreverent Satyabhama.


From Lord Krishna’s journey as a man to his relationship with nature – how did you think of this idea and given the title of the book, would you say Krishna is a universal obsession?

It depends; if you are attracted to him He is an obsession. For his devotees he is an addiction. He is easily the most charismatic God in the Hindu mythology for sure. How did I think of the idea for the two books, the truth is I didn’t, He chose me. The first Krishna: The God Who Lived as Man was a translation and happened out of the blue without my trying for it. The second too, just happened. Actually I had written a manuscript on Tulsi but the word count was very little and so I thought of a way of elaborating on it and clicked on this idea. I am happy my publisher loved the idea.


From being a journalist, a notable film critic, an author, and a historian to a Padma Shri awardee – what is next for you? Which book are you planning on writing next?

Two actually three books are ready but are delayed for one reason or the other, maybe all three will be released in 2018. One is a collection of my columns, the second on the embryo and the third, a translation again. I am also working on a film book but not yet looking for a publisher. A book I desperately want to write but not writing is my parents’ love story from Karachi to Kutch, let’s see when I muster the courage to put it all on paper.


You have been a journalist for over 40 years. What changes has the journalism industry gone through all these years? How has it evolved and would you say that it has become easier or more difficult over the years with the advent of social media?

Journalism has changed over the decades, so has cinema and that is the beauty of creative mediums that the old makes way for the new. Technology has changed, perspectives have changed, our attitudes/morality/ethics have changed. Changing is normal but there are some things you have to learn to hold on to and I think it is those things that determine your character. Social media is a boon as well as a curse, we have to learn to make space for it  and use it to our advantage rather than fall victim to it.

About the Interviewee:

Bhawana Somaaya has been a film critic for almost 40 years and has contributed columns to various publications like The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, Pioneer, BBC and many more.
She is the former editor of Screen and has authored 14 books on cinema that includes biographies of Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan. Her books are a point of reference for students studying cinema at Whistling Woods, Manipal University and now Jawaharlal Nehru University.
She has served on Advisory Panel of Censor Board of Film Certificate in India, on Shyam Benegal committee for CBFC and the Governing Council FTII, Pune. She is Chair Person of TIFF (Tigerland India Film Festival), Madhya Pradesh, and on the Advisory Panel of Dhai Akshar, an NGO.
Somaaya is a regular panelist at film and literature festivals and conferences hosted by both FICCI and the CII. She has served as visiting faculty for journalism at KC and MET Colleges, represented film delegation to different countries and been on jury for Chicago International Film Festival.

She is presently the Entertainment Editor at 927BigFM Radio Channel and is the only journalist visible on all the mediums – Radio/ Print/ TV/ Web.
Somaaya was conferred with Padma Shri in 2017, her last book Keshava: A Magnificent Obsession is on the best seller list.