Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Raja Azmi & karkuma

Today theSun carries an interview with the film producer cum author  Raja Azmi who have just written about her latest novel Karkuma. The interview took place in art gallery in Publika .... below is the full story that is published in the sun 

Suggested Headline: An Old Age Battle  
By Bissme S

Some people may not be  aware that Raja Azmi Raja  Sulaiman started out as a writer before she became a film producer. She wrote her first novel Black Widow in 1993, followed by Tangkis 
(1996), Jendela Putih (1997), Jijik (1998) and Cinta 100 Ela (2000).
Returning to writing after a hiatus of some 14 years, she has just come out with her sixth book, Karkuma, which explores the age-old battle between good and evil.It centres on Karkuma, a kind gardener, who has the ability to communicate with plants. 
He wins over the heart of Sirehpani, a beautiful maiden in the village, and they marry. Unfortunately, this angers Jameng who harbours feelings for Sirehpani. The man, who claims to be 
a religious leader, is secretly in cohorts with the devil and intends to use evil means to destroy Karkuma. In a recent interview with theSun, Raja Azmi, 55, talks about her new book, how it is different from her earlier works and also her future plans.

*Why did you name your novel,Karkuma? 

Karkuma or kurkuma is the scientific name for kunyit (turmeric). According to Malay folklore, the devil is afraid of turmeric. Note that my lead character also has the same name. I don’t want to be a spoiler by revealing more. Find out by reading the book. 

*You took 14 years to come out  with your sixth novel. Why? 

My last novel, Cinta 100 Ela, was banned in 2000. I went to see the authorities and asked them why they had banned my novel. They said my novel was too sensual.I argued that there are many 
novels in English that are far more sensual than my book and these books do not get banned. You can get these books on the shelves easily. But they said those books are in English and my book is in Malay. I could not accept their argument. They were being unfair. I was so angry and frustrated with the unfairness that I decided not to write novels again. But after 10 years, I began  to miss writing very much. A story was trapped inside me. I decided to forget the bitter episode of Cinta 100 Ela and  started writing again. 

*You started writing Karkuma in 2010 but only had it published  after four years. Why did it take you so long to complete this  novel? 

In the past four years, I was going through many personal crises in my life (her divorce from first husband Jalani Sidek as well as being accused of breaking up the marriage of another badminton player Roslin Hashim, among others). I was not able to give full attention to the novel. Once I had sorted out the mess in my life and cleared my mind, only then was I able to finish the novel. 

*How is Karkuma different from the novels you had written in 
the past? 

When I began my career as a novelist in 1993, I wanted glamour and fame. But now glamour and fame are no longer my priority. As a novelist, I want to leave something of substance behind.
There is a Malay saying: Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama’ (When a tiger dies, it leaves behind stripes; when a man dies, he leaves behind his name or reputation). I do not want people to remember Raja Azmi only as 
a woman who loves to court controversy. I have plans to get an international publisher to translate Karkuma into English and distribute the book all over the world. I also have plans to turn Karkuma into a stage play and a movie. In fact, I am already writing a sequel to the story. 

*Some people say your novels can be erotic. Any comment? 

Sex, religion and love are three important elements in our lives. We should not be afraid to explore these elements in our writing or be afraid to discuss them. I would say the sex element in my novel this time around is more poetic and polite. I was told that people during 
that bygone era expressed their sexual desires in a more subtle manner. 

*Some people may condemn you for writing about the devil. Any comment? 

Every religion believes there are dark spirits that walk among humans. The food for any devil is our hatred and our negative energy. My novel emphasises that you should have more love than hate in your heart and in your mind … You should pay attention to having more positive energy than negative energy. My novel asks this important question: ‘How do you fall in love with God?’ My novel is more about God than the devil. 

Footnote: Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman will be discussing her novel, Karkuma, at the Art For Grabs event at The School, Jaya One, on Aug 24 at noon. Karkuma: The True Colours of Raja Azmi dialogue session is open to the public.

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