Having to do with Jayanth Kaikini’s Ondu Jilebi

Having to do with Jayanth Kaikini’s Ondu Jilebi


Partha Desikan


An inspiring contemporary young Kannada poet has recently published a collection of his poems and there was a formal release in Bangalore.

Sri Ashoka reviewed the book for The Hindu offering sincere tribute in sober terms, referring to the poet’s humanism as well as his involvement with the here, now and the immediate.

The review has been reproduced below.

Humanism, in the lyrical mode

Ondu Jilebi by Jayanth Kaikini

Jayanth Kaikini has been writing poetry for the last four decades and “Ondu Jilebi” is his fifth anthology. Jayanth – who has also engaged very seriously with the short story and essay form – is basically a poet and his prose writings are but an extension of his poetry. Jayanth, an anchor and a much sought after lyricist, has managed to safeguard his ‘moola dharma’ of poetry. You find him a picture of restraint: still speaking in undertones, whispers, soliloquies and at times silence as well. He has not allowed his poetry to degenerate into cheap lyricism or politically correct rhetoric.

As a poet Jayanth does not go after themes but allows his senses to register the colour, sound and the smell around his immediate environment. His poetry is rooted in the concrete details of everyday life. The quotidian is magically transformed into a rich tapestry and in this process the seemingly dull and the ordinary get illuminated. The housewives, prostitutes, labourers, truck drivers, children, young men and women with their everyday problems, anxieties and challenges are made more familiar and in this new familiarity the readers begin to understand them humanely and compassionately. This is also true of the diction that Jayanth employs in his poems. It is neither high flown nor ornamental. The rhythm of the ordinary speech is slightly altered into the poetic rhythm of free verse.

In the poem “Roopaanthara” the poet wonders how our ordinary day to day actions, gestures and speech make a complex design once they are perceived in their inter-relationships. The poem suggests that if we are sensitive and responsive, life around us unfolds itself in all its hues. Poetry is one such sensitising agent according to Jayanth.

The poem “Kone Shabda” closely examines how the same, familiar, ordinary words begin to shine and mean with purpose and effect in the body of the poem. Hence, one of the guiding principles of Jayanth’s poetry is to render familiar things unfamiliar and vice versa.

Compassion and understanding are the two foremost things that Jayanth attempts to foreground in his poetry. The poem “Ondu Jilebi” is in the form of a mother’s advice to her teenaged son regarding the intricacies of human relationships.

However, the poem is neither didactic nor sentimental. “Anchu” asks if it is the lack of warmth and empathy that drive people into loneliness and insanity. At the same time, the poem “Walkman” disparages the man walking with his ears plugged and making an island of himself; he couldn’t care for the world around him.

Jayanth strongly suggests that only intense human interactions can restore sanity and order to our disturbed lives.

T.P. Ashoka.

*  *  *

The Hindu also came out with a report of the release of the book in Bangalore. The highly respected and senior playwright Girish Karnad used the occasion to expand his views on Kannada and Kannadaness and Jayanth Kaikini had to commence his own speech in sync., though he could go on to the main subject of poetry itself as he continued.

I am reproducing the report here.

Expanding notions of Kannada, ‘Kannadaness’

Special Correspondent


Bangalore: “Jilebi is culturally charged word. As once it establishes a North Indian connection and probably goes back to the Middle East,” said renowned playwright Girish Karnad, releasing Jayant Kaikini’s poetry collection “Ondu Jilebi” on Sunday.

Hitting the nail right on the head, in a typical fashion, Mr. Karnad emphatically said it was time we expanded our notions of Kannada and “Kannadaness”.

“They’re hacking trees indiscriminately, and for whom are they widening these roads? Don’t these trees form a part of our Kannada world? Why isn’t anyone talking about it?” he said.

“It is time we stopped thinking that Infosys and Wipro is Bangalore,” added Mr. Karnad.

Taking it further from here, writer-poet Mr. Kaikini said how we now waste time debating if Tipu Sultan was a true Kannadiga or not, ignoring issues that were burning and contemporary. If the youth of today had been brought back into the Kannada fold, films like “Mungaaru Maley” and “Milana” were responsible. It was a cultural phenomenon in the true sense, he said.

“This phenomenon has been a course of confidence and has brought a perceivable change in the body language of all our Kannada boys who work at the malls,” Mr. Kaikini said.

“I dedicate my book to poets Gangadhar Chittal, A.K. Ramanujan and K.V. Tirumalesh, who put me on this journey of poetry,” he added.

“Poetry is not a cluster of words which throws up a specific meaning. It is an experience. It was Keerthinath Kurthukoti who taught me this,” remembered Mr. Kaikini. Yogaraj Bhatt, director of “Mungaaru Maley”, and writer Guruprasad Kaginele had interesting things to say.

People are able to do different things with jilebi apart from just enjoying the delicious taste.


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