Interview with Santosh Avvannavar

Here are two interesting books-the first one may change the notion about the so called cursed ones around you-the people who are ELISA positive-or you may say the living ghosts on earth-who does know that their deaths are approaching slowly-but surely.It is an anthology of short stories.
The second book is a humors book about the struggle that a budding writer has to make in order to be considered at par with Chetan Bhagat.
We reviewed both the books and considered it is time now to interview the writer on the books. since he is a very busy person deeply associated with many N.G.O’s we have to wait long- but as it has been said the ‘ Sweet are the fruits of adversity ‘.
Here is a bit from the blurb of the books-Surrogate Author
by Santosh Avvannavar-
I wondered how difficult it is for a woman to be a surrogate mother irrespective of the objective. Writing few books have taught – true Devdas are authors.

Here is a bit of the review
Surrogate AuthorSurrogate Author by Santosh Avvannavar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So how does it feel to write a new book?
It starts with scribbling a few words here and there on the white canvas called the paper.
Oops-these days nobody does use a paper-it is on the screens of a computer.
Then the scribbling does get momentum-a picture starts to take a shape.
It’s a picture full of words-trying to tell a story or tell something. Dam it; it is not important what it tries to say but it is important to say something.
It’s like a magician who gets something out of nothing, from his empty hat comes the rabbit, the pigeon and only God knows what.
Then one fine morning (or evening or night or whatever) the picture takes the final shape or the painter (sorry, the author) thinks that it had taken the final shape!
So the end of the toiling days and night-the author thinks.
Now it will only be sunshine at the end of the night-light at the end of the tunnel.
But the author is still a child in fathoming what lies ahead.
It’s only the stat of the beginning of a toiling pilgrimage to the shrines called the publishing houses and the God called the publisher.
Someone will go through your manuscript reluctantly (chances are high the publisher god will read it inverted,( if it is a hard copy)),someone will give you a meaningful smile, someone a mischievous smile –in short in extremely short time the author will be an expert of human emotions.
And then something will happen……………….
Surrogate Author by Santosh Avvannavar and Shilpa Patil will take you to a quest-quest of being an author (or more practically a person who is a slave of writing).
The slave has to write –whatever may come in his way (he is masculine. why that gender discrimination?)
It’s a nine month journey to authordom(even the word is not recognised. what a shame!)-smeared in laughter.

Read the review at…

View all my reviews

And the second one is-Black, Grey & White: “No one is spared from it.”
And here is what the blurb has on offer-

This book gifts its readers five fantastic short stories that has a common aim – to spread awareness about AIDS. It is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against AIDS and show their solidarity for HIV positive people. The book is an eye opener for anyone who wish to see the wave of positive change in society. Everyone including the brave hearts Savita, Chintu, Mithali has the right to live with their head held high without fear of social ostracization. Life does not have to be like this. The time is ripe to act now with one’s sense and sensibility. Break the myths. Come, be the change.
Here is a bit of my review-
Black, Grey & White: “No one is spared from it.” [Kindle Edition] by Santosh Avvannavar (Author), Santosh I Biradar (Author), Rajashree Ghosh (Editor), Jimmesh Paul (Edi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

HIV – is not merely a medical problem in India, but more than a social problem. So much so is the non acceptability of AIDS patients in India that if in a social gathering a confirmed AIDS patient is seen everyone’s face turns pale-as if seeing a ghost walking in front of them. If someone’s relative is found to be confirmed ELISA positive, he or she thinks that it is better to be swallowed by earth. We are not talking of the victims, because society does think they have the right to be denied of all rights by the society-they are the excluded ones. Everybody tends to forget in a hurry that although 87% of the cases contracted sexually and transfusion associated and the rest are from intravenous drug use and vertical transmitted infections. And anybody including those faces of hate can be the unfortunate victim.
The victims are stigmatized in the society leading to severe social consequences related to human rights, health care services, freedom, human dignity and social interaction. and if the unfortunate victim comes from the marginalized section of the society then he or she will compelled to lead a life that the cattle will not even dream (if it can dream) of living. It is all the fault of the individual….
Standing on this backdrop of despair Black, grey and white co authored by Santosh Awannvar and Santosh I. Biradar is a pious attempt to wipe out darkness, ignorance and untruth- the three greatest enemies of humanity, about the killer disease. The book consists of five stories –each presenting unique shades of colours, judging the problem from different perspectives.
The stories are 1. Shahid-the Martyr, 2. Chintu-the earth is round, 3.A game of life,lust and death, 4. Highway sex-a journey of hope, 5. Abraham and His prodigal son. Out of these five stories we shall discuss at depth the first and the third.

Interested to know further?
Read complete review of it at-…

View all my reviews

So we ultimately got his time and here it is-
We first asked him a question that is his niche- Sooner or later the HIV positive patients are going to die –as AIDS is a silent killer. Don’t you think the affected patients require special attention from the society?
To which he answered with a smile-Yes I agree that such patients requires attention and its mainly pardoning, accepting and showing love. During my visits to district government hospitals I explored that government is doing a promising job through counseling and free medicines. NGO’s have also joined hands to reach the objective set up the government. It’s a battle within oneself to begin, then with soceity and lastly with death. With proper advise one can survive longer than otherwise. HIV a first stage and on identification one could live longer than otherwise perceived.

We next asked him- There are blind faiths, superstitions and myths associated with AIDS. How have you tried to explore these issues with your book?
His response was-The first chapter addresses these pointers. I met two people (HIV infected and other who was child trafficked) who gave me insights on people of such myths are contined to be practised. Keep those superstitious and myths a story was woven. The minor detailing (post office incident) was done taking help from experienced postman.

Then we asked him- What should be the attitude of the society to those who are HIV positive?
He answered briefly-I feel if one cannot accept them it wise to leave them live. Our system has to groom us to accept humiliation and failure to see the change in attitude.

The next is my personal favorite- How do you feel that the stigma associated with AIDS patients can be eradicated?
And came his apt answer-Any first discover of diseases henceforth should be handled cautious to pass as an awareness to society. One earlier wrong message will take years to set it right.

Then we came to the subject matter of the book- In one of your story there is a mention of infection of the deadly disease through physical intimacy. What social message do you want to convey through such narration?
He answered-I’m sure many are aware of protected sex can keep everyone safe. Practices like HIV test reports would ensure families to prosper. I also feel sex education should be introduced at high school (from 8th to 10th std).

At this point tea was served and I asked him,sipping on the cup- Is there any real incidence that inspired you to write the stories?
He narrated his personal experience-This all started with unwilling attitude to attend a workshop on Sexually Transimmited Infection organised by Dept of Social Work at Karnataka State Women’s University, Bijapur. Dr. Saurabh talk gave various insights on HIV/AIDS. Two day workshop trigged various thought that formed the beginning of the book. With help of Dr. Sharanbasavaraj I met some real victims and that formed the motivation.

Again I asked-In your last story there are mentions of religious characters. Are the choices deliberate and are there any specific reasons for such mentioning of names?
And he answered-That was a story inspired from a parable from Bible. I wanted to have a story that will have English names that would appeal to larger readers than country specific. The story was of example to mention that HIV/AIDS did exists earlier but it wasn’t discovered.

Our next question was- Do you believe that AIDS patients can be accommodated to the mainstream of the society?
And he responded-If I have take example of our country that has a complex system it would take many more years to accept AIDS patients. I am saying due to various reasons like – HIV/AIDS is realtively new to our country (first identified 1986) and the struggle to streamline has taken over 20 years. There has been promising changes and acceptance level is evloving. Unfortuantely the message ‘dreadful diesase’ that is perculated has lead to stgima.

Then I asked- What inspired you to write about the plight of new writers as a satirical comedy of the Devdas?
He answered-The first book ‘Adhuri Prem Kahaniya’ mostly had extreme reviews – some loved it and for some it didn’t appeal. All those reviews helped in writing Authdas. I was aware that if I want to reach out to people on author’s perspective it definitely has to be drama and comedy otherwise reviewers might down heavy again. The thought of – if Authdas was Devdas, wants to write a book named ‘Paro’ and his inspiration is ‘Chandramukhi’, how would Authdas would be? I narrated this thought peer readers of my earlier book – their reactions gave me confidence that it would work.

Since I have read his book,my Bengali blood was telling me to ask a question and I asked it at last- You have not mentioned the name of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee in the entire book-the original creator of Devdas. Do you have any specific reason in mind in doing so?
His answer was not able to please me-As the idea was origniated from Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie and I would like to give larger credit to it. Thanks for bringing this up, as a cross reference I should have mentioned in the book. We shall add this in the next edition.

I then inquired on the structural form of the story- What made you to write the story in the form of a drama?
He replied-I had liked Devdas (directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali) and visuals of the movie remained always in my thoughts. I felt Surrogate Author (a tradegy one way) can be best correlated to Devdas, as its perhaps one of few movies made in different languages and its accepted by the viewers. We genreally like Hero’s to win and live happily at the end unlike Devdas.

Thinking about myself, I asked him- How do you like to view the protagonist of your story –Authdas from the critical angle of Fa-Mohon- the cruel reviewer?
He answered-Authdas does have fear factor from the reviewer perspective for his first book. It can come heavy sometime because decision are mostly made on high positive reviews or low negative reviews. Over a period of time I have come across reviews who knows to pen down reviews in holistic. As I mention in the book – No person would want to write a bad book. I feel its impact of social (largerly) and economic (partially) that makes a book.

Again on structural form I asked him- You have chosen your protagonist to be an engineer by profession. What made you to portray his character in this fashion? Is it a mere coincidence or have some resemblance with the recent trend?
He answered to it-This is out of personal experience as parents in India believe that there are only (major) profession exists – Doctor or Engineer. On a lighter note every third person is a engineer in our country. The choice of being engineer is mostly forced and in the name of employment it ends being compromise. I took cautious step on the employment front and didn’t end up in a wrong job.

Then came my routine question- If somebody asks to review your book Surrogate Author in a sentence-can you make it?
Prompt came his reply-‘True Devdas are Authors.’

Since he was to go I asked him the last one- And finally why the poor author is a surrogate one?
And he answered in a hurry-Being a Surrogate Author would help authors to accept appreciation/humiliation otherwise it can be very demotivating factor for move on. The same reader who praised for earlier might pen down for the next work in case its deviates from the expectation. Hence I feel that author’s should look into criticism to understand the reasons rather than accepting completely or denying the views.

Interested about the two books?


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