Akademi to fete Santhali playwright

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  • Published 22.12.10

Jamshedpur, Dec. 21: When Bhogla Soren dropped out of college, little did he know that one day, he would become the first Sahitya Akademi Award winner in Santhali.

Announced yesterday, Soren will get the award on February 15 in Delhi. The 52-year-old’s Santhali play, Rahin Rawa Kana, a tragi-comedy published in 2008, won him the prestigious honour. Based in Potka and its neighbouring villages of East Singhbhum district, the play revolves around the romance between Charan, a Santhali boy, and Hinsi, a Birhor.

Rahin Rawa Kana has two parallel story lines — one on love and the other on culture. The lifestyle of Santhals, who have taken to farming, and Birhors, who have stuck to their age-old traditions, forms the backdrop of the stories,” said Soren, a sub-divisional engineer with BSNL.

The author, who has five plays, few essays and short stories to his credit, had started exploring his literary skills after his intermediate examination at the age of 18. Soren completed his intermediate studies from Tata College, Chaibasa. However, while pursuing BSc (honours) from Jamshedpur Co-operative College, he left midway for a job in the telecommunications department.

“The recognition will give a wide scope to the litterateurs of this state and will help put Jharkhand on the literary map,” Soren, who has been writing plays since 1984, said. His nine more plays are waiting to be published.

With the honour comes great responsibility, the playwright added. “Till now I was free, but the award has saddled me with a huge responsibility. I need to maintain the standard I have set now. Though literature pours straight out from your heart, I would like to keep up the good show and hence, have to work hard,” he said.

Soren had also received the Ambedkar Fellowship from Dalit Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, in 1992.

About not graduating, Soren said he had no regrets. “Rabindranath Tagore too did not have a degree, still he rules the literary world. A degree is not necessary to buy you name. All you need is dedication,” he said.

Eight books of poetry, four novels, three collections of short stories, four works of criticism, one travelogue, an autobiography and a play in 22 languages were in for competition for the Sahitya Akademi Award, 2010. The awards, which were recommended by jury members representing 22 languages, were approved by the executive board of Sahitya Akademi, which met under the leadership of its president Sunil Gangopadhyay.