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Rare recording of Mulk Raj Anand


Noted litterateur Shri Mulk Raj Anand had said that his novels closely reflected the slowly changing social system of his times.  And it was the impressions he gained and experiences he underwent that shaped the narrative.  The IGNCA had recorded a conversation with him in 1999, when he was 95, as part of its documentation series on Living Legends.  His conversation was with Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, who was then the Academic Director of the IGNCA.  Shri Mulk Raj Anand died at the age of 99 on September 28, 2004.

In this interview he recalled his life's journey and the people who were his companions.  Those people whom he met included such eminent men as Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, T.S. Elliot, Lord Russell, Freud and even Hitler.  Orwell perhaps influenced his political ideology the most.  He said that he had gone to Mahatma Gandhi, to his Ashram in Wardha.  Gandhiji asked "what do you want to do?" Shri Mulk Raj Anand replied "I have come to find our from you."   Gandhiji then told him to find that answer for himself.  He said that he did not decide things for people.  He told him to first know and understand India.

Then Shri Mulk Raj Anand se out on a pilgrimage, all over India.  He said that the caves of Ajanta were mind-boggling.  By then he had already travelled all over the world and seen some of the best art.  But they were all 15-17the century A.D.  Here was something made in 2nd century B.C.!  He said that the stone panel in Mahabalipuram paled everything else into insignificance.  He marveled at the extraordinary achievements of "our people" between 2nd C BC and 18th C .A.D Shri Anand started in 1947 the Modern Art Research Group, which published the MARG magazine.  Each of its issue explored the depths of Indian Art.  To start the magazine, he was looking for financial help.  Dr. Homi Bhabha took him to Shri J.R.D. Tata.  Shri Tata gave him several advertisements (revenue) and also two room to operate from.   The magazine did not sell much in India.  But abroad, it had a good reception.  Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru suggested that the state that was depicted by MARG should buy a thousand copies.

The hour-long interview is in three parts.  The others in the Living Legends series include Kalyanikuttiamma, and Guru Ammanur Madhavachakiar.


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