Interview of Ramnath Sonawane by Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Dr Ramnath Sonawane
Ramnath Sonawane is the CEO of Nagpur Smart City Development Corporation. He is also popular in the literary world. He writes poetry, spiritual lyrics and plays. He is the author of the English play, Lady Diana the Queen of Hearts. Basically, he writes in 3 languages: English, Marathi and Hindi.

Here goes an enriching conversation with this eminent Indian author.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon:  Please tell us about your background, earlier life and actual life?


Vatsala Radhakeesoon
Ramnath Sonawane: I am the son of a farmer. I come from rural background. I have completed my post-graduation in English Literature from Fergusson College Pune and started my career as senior college lecturer in Rayat Siskshan Sanstha Satara. After passing my State Public Service Examination in 1989, I joined Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra as a chief officer/ city manager. At present, I have been working as a Chief Executive Officer in Nagpur Smart and sustainable city development corporation limited, Nagpur.

V.R: At what age did you start writing poems and other literary genres and initially what/who has been your source of inspiration?

R .S: I have been writing right from my childhood but my first collection of poems
entitled Capsule was published on September 22nd, 1997. Though the title is in English, the poems are in Marathi, my mother tongue.

V.R: What do poetry and drama mean to you respectively?

R.S: I prefer poems or plays as forms of writing because as compared to novel as a form of writing, I believe that those genres express a lot more effectively in fewer words. This is basically applicable for poems.


V.R:  What inspires you to write regularly? Are there specific themes that you enjoy bringing forth in your literary works?

R.S: I have chosen the themes thoughtfully. I meet a lot of people during the course of work. I see lots of people suffering in agony from some social evils such as corruption, exploitation, tyranny, terrorism and deteriorating moral values. I try to express my views and awaken people against such social evils through my poems. I have profound faith in God and I believe in spirituality. Therefore, I have written a few bhajans in Hindi on Sai Baba of Shirdi. These bhajans are sung by well-known Playback singers Shree Suresh Wadkar and Anuradha Paudwal. They are available on YouTube. I have recently published my play in English entitled Lady Diana, the Queen of Hearts, available on Kindle, Amazon and Smashwords.

V.R:  Please tell us about your play Lady Diana, Queen of Hearts? What is the main theme of this play, its message and what has been the public response to it when staged or published?

R.S
This play is about Lady Diana. It depicts some real-life incidences and some imaginary scenes to sound it more dramatic.  The fairytale marriage between the Princess Diana and the prince ends with the divorce due to his affair with his first love , Camilla. When Diana discovers this, she feels distressed and betrayed; she tries to find solace in the charity, the purpose which was dear to her heart even before her marriage.  She does not get the desired support from the prince and the royal family.  She feels frustrated and lonely in the palace, whereas, feels happy and homely with the common people who are the victims of war and some social evils. As she was the media attraction, she was often spied and chased by the paparazzi. During the course of charitable work, she comes across some rich and influential people. She has fallen in love with some of them. The media had given wide publicity of her personal life which proved to be damaging to the royal family. The marriage ultimately ended in divorce. After divorce, her decision to marry the Egyptian millionaire’s son invited wrath of the royal family. Destiny played its role and before her remarriage, both of them died in the road accident. The scene depicting the dialogues between the Lady Diana and Dr. Sigmund Freud suggests the inner conflict at the sub conscious level. It reveals her true personality. The sub plot relates to the marriage and divorce between the duke and the duchess. It is a perfect foil to the main plot as it depicts the estranged duchess seeking divorce from the duke who is tolerant enough to accept her extra marital affair for the sake of royalty. On the other hand, in the main plot, Diana takes a conscious decision of divorce, sacrificing her title and even the right to queenship.
The dictum of the Shakespearean tragedy,” the character is Destiny; we are ourselves the makers or the destroyers of our own fortune” is thus proved through the personality traits of the Lady Diana.
It has evoked very good response because the character of Lady Diana has a universal appeal. It is not yet staged.



V.R: Can you elaborate about your poetry collection entitled Capsule – the whole idea that led to its creation and broadly the general themes dealt with?

R.S: On the 50th anniversary of India’s independence, I tried to look back and to introspect the achievements as well as failures of our people and the government. I expressed the public sentiments from my perspectives in Capsule, a collection of poems in my mother tongue, Marathi. There are 34 poems which deal with the rampant corruption, exploitation, tyranny, terrorism and deteriorating moral values. It was published on 22nd September 1997. It was well received and my concerns were acknowledged and appreciated by the readers and some of the renowned Marathi writers.

V.R: Who are your favorite poets and playwrights and how have they impacted on your poetry and plays?

R.S: My favorite poets are John Milton, William Wordsworth, PB Shelly, Keats, Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman, John Donne, Robert Frost and WB Yates.
My favorite playwrights are Mahakavi Kalidas in Sanskrit, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, VV Shirwadkar , Vasant Kanetkar , Madhukar Todarmal, Abhiram Bhadkamkar, Mahesh Elkunchwar and Dilip Pardeshi  in Marathi. Willam Shakespeare, Marlowe, GB Shaw, Oscar Wild and Henry O Nill in English.

V.R: Based on your writing experience, what are the steps involved in poetry writing and play-writing respectively that lead to a good poem and play?

R.S: While writing a poem, I feel that, a poet has to first of all observe the people and the things around him, ponder over it, and then if he/ she feels that he/she must react, then react through expressions in carefully chosen words.
In case of plays, I hardly have an experience of writing one play. Therefore, I cannot say anything authoritatively but I always keep Aristotle's definition of tragedy in mind. An author must keep in mind that the theme he chooses must have universal appeal. Rather than expressing your own sorrow and misery, one must express the pain, sorrow and the misery of others. Then and only then, your work can appeal to the readers.


V.R: Being the CEO of Nagpur Smart City, on a daily basis you are linked to the field of management. Management is both an art and a science. Any branch of management involves dealing with people and being exposed to human psychology in diverse situations. How does your skills and knowledge of the managerial field help you in writing poems and plays? Is there any connection between the management world and literary world? If so, how?

R.S: Management is altogether a different field. A city manager has to be a good communicator as well as a very sensitive individual. The managerial skills do not help me in writing a poem but meeting various kinds of people provides a subject for writing. When people express their feelings, emotions, pain, misery, unhappiness or sometimes share their experiences with me, I think over it, I ponder and if something inspires me to write or compels me to write, I immediately take pen and paper, starts scribbling the way it comes.

V.R: According to you what are the roles of arts and the artist/writer in the 21st century predominated by fast-moving Information Technology?

R.S: In the 21st century, with the advent of information and communication technology the roles of arts and the artist have changed but they have not diminished the importance of arts and the artist. In fact, the ICT has helped the arts and the artists; it has provided an excellent platform for the artists to express themselves through various forms and modes of communication. It has also helped them to reach out to the maximum number of people. Now the writers, painters, sculptors and all other artists can easily cross the geographical boundaries and reach out to anyone from any place at any time.


V.R: What would you advise young and emerging poets/writers?

R.S:
Express yourself freely but follow certain ethical practices and moral values.


V.R: What would be your message to the world as a literary/artistic person?

R.S: Worship your own religion and at the same time respect other religions. Love your country but do not hate other countries. Be a universal citizen.



V.R: We sum up this interesting conversation with one of your recently unpublished poems:

Poem about a girl named Nirbhaya who was gang raped in Delhi:

          “To Nirbhaya”
"Nirbhaya " means one who is not afraid of anyone,
But beware, beware of hounding wolves.
They are everywhere around you.

At all places however safe or secure
At home or office
Hotel or motel
School or temple.

In all professions, noble or sublime
Teacher or preacher
Leader or dealer
Doctor or lawyer.

Of any relation known or unknown
Uncle or father
Cousin or brother
Lover or Teaser.

Some of them do not behave like human beings.
Sometimes they are crueler than the deadliest animals.
They are hungry for your flesh only.
Therefore, beware Nirbhaya, beware.

Ramnath Sonawane


V.R: Thank you very much Mr. Ramnath Sonawane for joining us on Setu.

R.S:
You are welcome.

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