Live it like Austen
Initiating the first all-woman Jane Austen Club in Hyderabad, filmmaker Aparna Malladi feels the author’s universe is still relevant in the current scenario
Ever before Aparna Malladi (of The Anushree Experiments and Posh Porisfame) turned a filmmaker, she had wanted to make a Telugu film out of a Jane Austen novel. She still nurses that dream. Watching the American film The Jane Austen Book Club recently piqued her interest in the significance of her characters, their unique identities that continue to mirror our present society, even 200 years after the novels were written.
When Aparna was asked to talk about the evolution of woman-characters in Telugu cinema in a conference recently, she was uncannily reminded of how diverse the women in a Jane Austen’s universe were. This was precisely when her desire to establish a Jane Austen society in Hyderabad grew stronger. Wasting no time, she mooted the idea among social media circles and her friends-she wasn’t alone. The first session of the all-woman Jane Austen Club, was hosted at Jubilee Hills last weekend. The club comprises women from various walks of life who’ve resonated with Jane Austen’s writings over the years.
Aparna says, “At times when gender parity is an issue that concerns many, it’s fitting that one re-observes the author’s nuanced characters that give a new dimension to feminism debates, her observations of a patriarchal society, her need to give both genders enough space to explain themselves.”
The session spanning two hours and attended by dozens of women relieved Aparna of all earlier nervousness. “Some people came from Old city and wanted to revisit Jane Austen’s novels to see how they had matured over time. Most of the members who read her in their teenage, are married now, well past the romance zone. This was their way of reliving younger times,” she shares.
The Club will meet on the first Sunday of every month, and members will discuss and brainstorm Jane Austen’s works in the very chronological order they were written. “The attempt is also to understand the evolution of her writing over the years and the psyche behind it. Some of her books that were posthumously published (like Aparna’s favourite, Persuasion) showcase her writing range adeptly,” Aparna mentions.
Why only a society for Jane Austen? “She was a rebel author in her times when women weren’t even allowed to inherit their father’s wealth. Jane Austen’s women value themselves highly. Her characters could effortlessly wait for true love. In the Tinder-age, Jane Austen definitely has a point.”
Aparna adds that this attempt is also to understand the context and times in which Jane Austen wrote, besides the plot. “She talks of ‘arranged marriages’ in a similar social and economic strata without using the term. She’s an author who placed women as her protagonists and gave a voice to her men too. I think our current setup is totally Jane Austen-like.” Like a character in The Jane Austen Book Club, she says the author’s works are an ‘antidote for life’.
As the first session of the Club concluded, she has opened up to possibilities of uniting with Jane Austen’s societies across Mumbai, USA, England and Pakistan too. “I made it point to not let the group and meetings have a regimental structure; the very point is to advocate free will and forget schedules, so there’s no point of making things sacrosanct.”
As an observant storyteller wanting to make a film on a Jane Austen novel, she considers this initiative a blessing. “I am yet to find the love of my life, Jane too had made that wait. I now get to hear 20 different perspectives on a single novel, it’s just the material I’ll need for my future films too,” she signs off.
Credit : The Hindu