Thursday, March 15, 2012

Manjula Padmanabhan


Manjula Padmanabhan has worked as a playwright, journalist and a children’s book author. She was born in 1953 and went to a boarding school. She was born in Delhi and grew up in Sweden, Pakistan and Thailand. After passing out university, she began to further her interests in writing in the publishing and media industry. At the moment she lives in Delhi.

She has written Kleptomania which is a short-story collection. She is the creator of the iconic Suki, a character for a comic strip that has been turned into a comic series for the Sunday Observer. She has worked as a cartoonist for leading newspaper, The Pioneer. She has also writer plays such as Lights Out!, Hidden Fires, The Artist’s Model, Harvest and Sextet. She has written books such as Escape, Getting There, Hot Death, Cold Soup and Kleptomania.

Manjula Padmanabhan’s most famous play is Harvest. It focuses on body organ-selling in India. It is a futuristic play that throws light on the desperation and the survival of a man and his family to sell organs via an agency to someone in the first world for a paltry amount of money. In the process, Om’s (the man who has been selling organs from India) life is turned upside-down and monitored by the agency. The agency is obsessive with controlling the health of Om’s family which includes his mother, wife and he; while the recipient from the first world watches them on a video-conferencing mode and treats them like human dross. The play is heart-wrenching and Manjula Padmanabhan won the Onassis Prize in 1997 after it was declared the Best New International Play.  Govind Nihalani is working on a project to film this play.

Manjula Padmanabhan’s latest book is Getting There; it is a partial-autobiography. She has described it as loosely based on her life between 1977 and 1978. Her short-story collection, Kleptomania is based on extremely versatile and has a host of speculative fiction themes ranging from mystery to science. It also centers on a post-apocalyptic world which is bleak, as-a-matter-of-fact and wry. It has story of love deceptions, rude awakenings and sexual realization. Further these stories are timeless in their themes and universal in their appeal.  Manjula Padmanabhan’s humor is stark and real and makes a reader step out of a reverie. Escape is a harsh sketch of a dystopian world that reveals the life of the only girl in the world where the rest of the women folk have been wiped out.

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