Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Author Sumant Batra unveils his book ‘Anarkali’

‘I have tried to piece together the puzzle that surrounds this woman’

- OUR CORRESPOND­ENT

‘What I found very interestin­g was sort of the nitty gritty detail of historical research that came through and this is something I talked to Batra ji about’

Author Sumant Batra launched his best-selling book ‘Anarkali’ in Kolkata on Saturday at a panel discussion moderated by writer and social activist Saira Shah Halim in the presence of writer, editor, festival director Anjum Katyal, National Award-winning director Ashoke Vishwanath­an, and editor-in-chief Om Books Internatio­nal Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri.

During the panel discussion, Katyal said: “... what I found very interestin­g was sort of the nitty gritty detail of historical research that came through and this is something I talked to Batra ji about.” Viswanatha­n added: “If a book called ‘Anarkali’ has been written, it would be enough provocativ­e to look it up you know. I think the book is extremely well written.”

Reflecting on the process, Chaudhuri said: “I have seen Batra’s passion for this subject for the last 7-8 years since I have known him.” Saira Shah Halim also praised Batra’s approach and said: “...when we see deeply toxic films where women are told to lick a man’s shoe, he (Sumant Batra) has given a lot of grace to the character (Anarkali) and also tried to find a closure to it.”

“I have tried to piece together the puzzle that surrounds this woman (Anarkali) whose silhouette is all that we have known, giving her an identity, a name, a family, and a life beyond the tragic love affair she has come to be identified with. What comes forth is a saga, fresh and compelling, reflecting the experience of a woman navigating social structures in the Mughal Empire and bearing the consequenc­es of asserting her desires,” said Batra, an insolvency lawyer of global eminence. Interestin­gly, the book was launched by renowned filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj in December 2023. Impressed by the story, Bhardwaj has even offered to make a film on the book.

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