Locked away 9 years, self-taught,
now a leading Tamil poet
‘Salma’ – the film and the writer at MIFF
On February 5, 2014 at 11 am at Tata Theatre
‘Salma’ directed by Kim Longinotto tells the story of Salma Writer and her extraordinary personal journey from a captive in her household for 20 years
to a top name in Tamil literature today. Salma is in Mumbai at the Mumbai
International Film Festival of Documentary, Short and Animation films.
For nine years, until she agreed to an arranged marriage, Salma was trapped first by her family and then again by her husband – physically locked away, unable to continue her education, discovering her need to write poetry but forced to write her passionate words secretly.
Salma’s anger and determination kept her focused on obtaining her freedom. When her deeply felt poems reached a publisher, her frank and open observations about her sexuality, her forced marriage and her village’s customs all made her an overnight sensation, much to the displeasure of her family and village.
Pushed into running in an election as a village leader by her husband, Salma unexpectedly is elected and becomes the voice for women imprisoned by the same fate. Her legendary refusal to follow traditional Muslim customs and her forthrightness about the treatment of village women secure her status as a true rebel in the face of an ancient and brutal tradition.
Ms Salma is a well-known name to readers of contemporary Tamil literature. With 2 volumes of poetry, Oru Maalaiyum Innoru Maalaiyum (One Evening and Another evening, 2000), Pacchai Devadai (Green Angel, 2005), a short story collection - Saapam (The Curse) all published by Kalachuvadu Publications and a novel Irandaam Jaamangalin Kadhai (The Hour Past midnight, 2004) published by Zubaan. All have been translated into several languages. Salma has made her mark as a distinctive literary voice.
Lakshmi Holmstrom’s English translation of her novel, entitled The Hour Past Midnight, was short-listed for the Crossword Book Prize and long-listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, also long listed for the Man Asian Prize. Her novel has been translated into German, Galician (from Spain), Malayalam, (DC BOOKS) and Marathi MANOVIKAS.
Salma’s poetry and fiction have carved an undeniable place for themselves in the Tamil literary world for the articulation of desire and sexuality as well as emotions that animate the domestic space every day, subjects that are often avoided in Tamil literature.
Salma was the only representative of Tamil literature at the London Book Fair in 2009. In 2007, the University of Chicago organized a two-day seminar, as part of the annual Norman J Cutlet Conference, to discuss her literary work. Salma’s poems have been translated into English and published in important anthologies.
Besides being a woman of letters, Salma has also been a committed public servant. She was the elected President of the Ponnampatti Panchayat, 2001-2006. She served as the Chairman of the Social Welfare Board, Govt. of Tamil Nadu, during which time she was instrumental in establishing several welfare schemes, including some landmark ones for the transgender community (aravani/hijra) in Tamil Nadu. She was on the selection committee for the Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Award, for 2009-2011.
For interviews with Salma, email <email@example.com>
Tel 91 22 22826699, 22873513