Kitne Pakistan

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Rating: 4.3/5

Author: Kamleshwar

Publisher: Rajpal and Sons

Publishing Date: 2000

Language: Hindi

Genre: Political Fiction

ISBN-10: 8170284767

ISBN-13: 978-8170284765

Format: Paperback

Pages: 364

Cost: Rs. 354 (Paperback), Rs. 400 (Hardcover), Rs. 273 (Kindle Edition)

Plot:

It follows as: in a fictional court, various historical characters are brought to the witness's box and asked to narrate their version of history. These historical personalities range from Mughal emperors Babur and Aurangzeb, Spanish adventurer Hernando Cortez, Lord Mountbatten, Adolf Hitler, and Saddam Hussein, along with political leaders, religious zealots, and even scheming Gods of mythology, many are accused of creating innumerable divided nations and people, and a legacy of hatred and distrust. The only arbiter standing for the humanity is an unnamed abeed (slave). He listens to the witnesses and mulls over the casualties of Kurukshetra, Kargil, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nazi Germany, East Timor, the Aztec civilization, and mythological Greece to Bosnia.

This book breaks every ordinance of novel writing and makes its own space with an altogether different style and brimming creativity.

Review:

Kitne Pakistan is a Hindi novel by Kamleshwar, the noted 20th-century Hindi writer, a pioneer of the Nayi Kahani ("New Story") movement of the 1950s. The novel combines allegory and realism, and it follows the rise of Sectarianism, Nationalism, Hindutva, and Communalism- raising questions about the true motives of the people who make decisions on the behalf and for common people, who throughout the history have borne the brunt of their decision.

The author presents the different versions of the historic events that gave birth to such intense animosity between Hindus and Muslims. He revisits the sufferings of the common man who ultimately had to be in the receiving end of those in power, the author narrates:

“…I’ve lived here all my life and now I’m supposed to go to Pakistan to die, am I? Well, I’m not going to Pakistan, whether the Koransharif or your Kishan Bhagwan in the Gita says so.”

In parallel to all these, there’s a love story happening in this novel between Adeeb and Salma who have similar dreams. The plot of the book is very flexible to different perspectives. On one hand. the book may appear to be historic- analysing and comparing different historical opinions and judgments and on the other hand, it may feel like a drama with unacquainted characters arguing with each other. The novel becomes heart-rending and miserable when it portrays extreme human trauma.

On reading the book, one can witness the violence, separation, and bloodshed in the aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 and examines the nature and futility of divisive politics and religion.

The Sahitya Akademi once remarked about the author: "his utter self-restraint in experimentation both with technique and form lends a forceful character to his treatment."

Milestones of the Book:

  • It won the 2003 Sahitya Akademi Award for Hindi, given by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.

About the Author:

Kamleshwar (6th January 1932- 27th January 2007) was a prominent 20th-century Hindi writer and scriptwriter for Hindi cinema and television. Among his most well-known work are the films Aandhi, Mausam, Chhoti Si Baat, and Rang Birangi. He was awarded the 2003 Sahitya Akademi Award for his Hindi novel ‘Kitne Pakistan’ and also the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

His works depict the trials and tribulations of a fast-changing society, groping for new values in the face of the collapse of the old value system. He writes about the woes of contemporary society, which he sees as being in the grips of excessive materialism.

He has held important positions such as Additional Director General of Doordarshan, Editor of ‘Dainik Jagaran’ (a Hindi daily newspaper). He has also scripted for many Hindi motion pictures. Kamleshwar wrote 12 novels, 14 story collections, and screenplays of around 100 films in his 65 years of life.


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