ST: How did your journey into story telling start?
It all started when I met Radhika Menon,MD Tulika for the old girls meet. She offered me a marketing job and I took it up. I was marketing books by Tulika and Tara books(They were together at that time). One day, as the translator was not available, I got to translate Cathy Spagnoli’s Priya’s day into Tamil and presto! For the book launch, I did the story in Tamil and the professional story teller was born.
What is the difference between the story writing and story telling ? As an audience, it is similar to watching a movie at home and a play at the theatre.
Exactly!!! Nothing like live performance. I hate to see myself on a video without audience!It is important for both the teller and the listener.
Storytelling needs these three: Story, Teller, listener!!!
You are an awesome storyteller. Does that hone the writer in you? How do they impact each other?
Certainly!!! Specially in my Tamil translation. Tulika specifically gives me certain books to translate for they know it needs a storyteller’s perspective.
Do you prefer to do stories that are unknown or ones that are familiar while narrating? Why?
The ones that touch my soul!!!
Who were your favourite writers when you were growing up?
I love fairy tales!Silly, but true.
Who are your Top 5 favourite storytellers from across the world? Why?
I can only talk about those I’ve met.
Cathy Spagnoli US/INDIA: Absolutely awesome teller who can capture all audiences with ease.
Dianne Ferlatte, US: Vibrant.She can make you cry as much as she can make you laugh!
Roger Jenkins, Singapore: I love his improvisation.
Dr.Wajuppa Tossa, Thailand: Petite but grande raconteuse!!!Effective use of voice!
Craig Jenkins, UK: I love the way he adapts to the country he addresses.
What all languages are you comfortable writing in? And narration? How different is the experience in English versus one of our regional languages?
I love to play with Tamil because you are best in your own tongue. Neverthe less,I’am comfortable with English but it won't be too flowery! Rather simple!!
Some story tellers use props. What are your tools when it comes to story telling?
Voice, gestures, movements and facial expressions.
What is the biggest no-no in story telling as per you and on the contrary, what can help make a story teller successful?
Never imitate!!!Always Be yourself!!
How would you describe the Story Telling scenario in India today? How is Indian story telling received elsewhere in the world?
It is moving towards a bright future!!The next decade will be lucky to win awards in par with other performing arts. Very well!! They love the animated Indians….
Do you think that the traditional storytelling methods are prevalent only in the Indian villages or are they being revived in the modern context?
I think now every one wants to go back to roots, hence it is moving for the rural to the urban set up.
Any anecdotes you would like to share from your intriguing career so far?
Ever so many just to quote what the president of Singapore Mr.S.R.Nathan,told me at a high tea after my performance during the photo shoot:
Me:Wow!A proud moment,taking a picture with the president!
President:I’m the lucky one.
President:Because, you can become a president but I can never tell a story!!!
Anything in particular that you would like to tell the contributors and readers of Saffron Tree?
Storytelling is from the womb to the tomb!!!Never stop telling stories.They are the best bonding tools!
Jeeva's original writings include Malli, a bi-lingual book in Tamil and English, Gadagada Gudugudu, in Tamil, A vilirunthu akku varai, a Tamil alphabet book and Kasakasa parapara, a book in Tamil verse . For more on Jeeva visit here.