Back to the roots ….

My childhood was in a quaint village near Mangalore. Stories narrated by my parents and grandparents in Kannada kept made my world large. My fascination for stories began there and made me explore more and more literature and love for the language was developed. With majority of people moving away from villages, settling for a ‘better’ life in busy cities, we find ourselves distant from our roots. Due to the pressure of daily life parents are busy and grandparents are away.  The emphasis on getting better in English has taken far more importance when compared with staying close to our identity as Kannadigas.

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My  niece is 15 year old and she is a voracious reader. She has read Harry Potter , Lord of the Rings and  a whole of host of fiction works primarily in English . This connections is missing with Kannada be it songs or stories as she does not connect with it. It pains me to see kids like her, staying in Karnataka who are Kannadigas  completely out of touch of their roots. This is where I strongly feel that Keli Katheya audio CD has a chance to make a difference.

I was delighted when I first stumbled on the Youtube channel of Keli Katheya, displaying the clips of the stories that will be on the CD. It contains six stories from six prominent writers of the state being narrated by six well known personalities in cinema, theatre and music. I watched each of the preview one by one and by the end of it, I knew that I was going to buy this for my niece. It gave me a feeling that finally I will have something to give her, which will spark a love affair with the language and act as a catalyst to explore the vast literature we have. It may be a long shot, but I feel that it is totally worth trying. It will be almost impossible to make her read a story straight away but from whatever little preview I have seen, I strongly believe that experts narrating the stories in an intimate way should definitely have a positive impact on her.

We all want to hear stories. We read books, we watch a lot of movies to find entertainment, to find a piece of ourselves in the stories. It is unquestionable that the fulfilment, involvement becomes maximum when we can relate to the stories and the characters that are portrayed. It’s easiest to connect when you see characters and settings that are around us, that is native to us and are in our mother tongue.  Itsearching for good stories anywhere else.

Movies of our times don’t tell much about our lives, neither does popular music. But in comparison, literature does far more greater work in reflecting the society we live in. It gives us a glimpse of the heritage, culture and people of the land. It makes you realise the things that makes you an unique individual. Reading to the children is said to be first step towards literacy. This is why I think that Keli Katheya can simulate that intimate story telling experience thereby igniting the love and interest for Kannada in those, who have moved away from it.

My brother, after moving away from Kannada literature for long came across Jayanth Kaikini’s story book and he was so blown away by it and it made him read Kannada books more often. I sincerely hope that Keli Katheya is a project that has the potential to do the same to people like him. Gifting the CD to anyone (whether it is a kid or adult) to whom I think it will be beneficial, will be the best thing I can do from my side. With all the profits made from the CD going to the border area Kannada medium schools, it will be a success for me even if the person who received the gift doesn’t get inspired from it. Success will be doubled if they actually get reconnected with the language! I couldn’t have asked for a better deal than this!

 Sharath Padaru

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Kelikatheya – A story of Stories….

Human beings are fascinated by stories, they love reading, narrating or listening to them. Our urge to narrate and listen to stories are perhaps as old as our prehistoric men and women, cave drawings are reflection of this instinct. Why does he need to tell how many deer he killed? Nonetheless story telling has remained a compelling art form Story telling has taken various formats over the years be it oral narratives, cave drawings, books, theatre or cinema offering different degrees of intimacy and nourishing his imagination. Our first brush with stories been with our loved ones, a grandparent or a mother.

We may not remember the stories they told us but we sure remember the intimacy of the experience. Reading books or hearing someone tell a story is perhaps the most intimate form and allows your imagination. When a book or a someone telling a story talks of a girl next door or a street lined with flowering trees it allows you to imagine “ your girl next door” or a street that is lined with your favorite colors. Cinema or theatre leaves you with no such opportunity. Reading a book or listening to a story today requires time and patience. Besides how does one choose good stories from the millions that get published? Or where can one search for people who can narrate stories to me in a way that touches my heart.

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People do say that they loved reading but they now have no time they are busy commuting or doing multiple tasks and still want the experience of a story in its most intimate format. This need has translated to an audio book industry abroad especially in United States and Germany. In the United States alone this accounts of a 1.2* billion dollar industry in 2011 alone. Infact most book publishers in the US immediately release an audio version of their book. With rapid urbanization the trend is sure to catch up in India. Audio books carry an additional responsibility in India and particularly in Karnataka where people may have totally skipped reading Kannada literature due to a busy life style or otherwise.

The seed of “ Keli Katheya” was initially was born with the idea of creating a world of stories on a audio book to give them the intimate experience of listening to a story in Kannada and in a sense deepen their love for the language at a younger stage. Any idea that can adapt itself well can run longer and stronger and after discussions amongst us we decided to expand the canvas to include stories for adults as well. Since the idea was to create a feel for Kannada literature we decided to select short stories giving representation various human emotions like humor, or the poignancy of a man trying to connect back with his roots.

To underline the similarity of human emotions we have chosen stories set places like New York, Bellary, Bangalore and Mumbai. Apart from impacting people with our audio book we also wanted our ideas to impact other people’s lives and so 100% of the profits would go to support children studying in the Government schools in border areas of Karnataka through the Avirata organization. Not being connected to the entertainment industry, we wondered who would narrate these stories, who would help us with the copyrights of the stories from the author. We were pleasantly surprised when nobody refused our request. So neither the writers nor the celebrities who have read the stories have charged us for their time. They even refused our offer to provide them cabs to come to the recording studio. This only strengthened our resolve to make it an audio book of high quality. Most audio books produced abroad have no music but we have added minimal music to cater to Indian sensibilities and use the audio book as a platform to provide an opportunity to people who wanted to showcase their abilities to compose music despite having other professions. The music for these stories is composed people who are journalists and software engineers.

We have launched the website and social media website so that people experience these stories and they can pre-order the CD and get a discount as well. Furthermore we are partnering with Kannada organizations to spread this unique venture of an audio book in Kannada Our team comprises of Mukund Setlur, Kiran, Nitesh Kuntady, Sateesh Gowda, Roopa Laxmi, Harish Mallya, Pramod Patagar and Mansa Bhardwaj For more information, please visit the website http://www.kelikatheya.com

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