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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Preti Taneja Recreates Shakespearean Magic In Her Book About The Battle Between Will And Fate

  • IWB Post
  •  January 30, 2018

The name ‘Shakespeare’ will never need of an introduction for his words have kept his legacy alive- the greatest writer and poet of his time, he continues reigning over the literary world. As a literary fanatic and an ardent fan of his work, listening to Preti Taneja talk about her book based on one of his marvelous plays was something I was not going to miss out on.

It was with high hopes that I had braved the scorching sun to hear Preti talk about her work at JLF 2018’s session, Revolutionary Poets: On Hamlet, Haider and Shakespeare’s Ability to Speak Truth to Power, but the session, centered on Vishal Bharadwaj and his films (which I agree are magnificent) compared to the impossibly small discussion over Preti’s book, We That Are Young, did not sit well with me.

So, naturally (well, yeah!) when I spotted her leaving one of the sessions on the last day of JLF, I tagged along and being the humble lady that she is, she was more than happy to answer my queries. Excerpts:

While you pick up many pressing matters in your book, do your own experiences as a brown woman living in a white community shape it in any way?

I think that’s a really interesting question. The experience defined my writing by giving me the idea about the structural discrimination in society so I can completely understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it. There is this layer of things that are not accessible to dark-skinned people and that’s quite harsh and I could write about it only because I’ve felt it.

Preti Taneja

‘We That Are Young’ is a powerful adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear and Preti has wonderfully portrayed the story’s greed, violence, corruption and the thirst for power in modern India. The theme revolves around the fate of three sisters who although were given a prosperous upbringing remained bound in the patriarchal restraints of society.

I read a recent interview where you talked about playing with sentence formation, and the one you mentioned was the line ‘All will fall.’

Oh, that! It is a three-word sentence and I took a long time to get it just right. I wanted to let it be known that all that we impose on this world is just maya, an illusion and that ‘all will fall.’ But when we stumble across the words, it sounds like ‘wilful.’ So while everything, borders, politics, rumors, money, is destined to fall, why don’t we be wilful, doing what we want to do and not pay any heed to the baseless discrimination and oppression the world throws at us.

A principle we should all live by. In your book, the three sisters can be seen battling between their will and the fate that society has decided for them.

All I want to say is that I want to live in a world where no one tells me what my fate is, where I am not governed by society’s preconceived notions. I want to know and understand something based on my own thoughts, form my own opinions and decisions without waiting to adhere them to someone’s acceptance criteria.

You have said that your book covers ‘gender violence and toxic masculinity.’ On that line of thought, do you agree with the feminists who say that the #MeToo Movement has not gone quite right?

I can’t really comment on whether the older feminists are right or wrong because the movement is not really over. After learning for years to just shush about sexual abuse they went through this is a highly positive change. I don’t think we can write it off as ‘not going right’ as of yet.

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