Monday, September 05, 2011

Meet Jeeva Raghunath

Jeeva is among the liveliest story tellers around. Her energetic and animated story telling leaves you wondering if this was just one person or many narrating the tale. She has translated many books into Tamil and written some fantastic picture books and more for Tulika. We are pleased to feature this immesely popular storyteller, here at ST.

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.


Tulika Publishers said...

Hurrah for the madly funny Jeeva Aunty!

Choxbox said...

Jeeva Aunty you are needed in Bangalore - when are you coming?

Artnavy said...

chox- last we saw her here was at the Tulika Panchatantra do

TulikaP- one just can't help being mesmerised by her

Lavs said...

I have had the pleasure of attending two sing along sessions of Jeeva. Her personality and voice mesmerizes everyone.My wish is that she should do more sessions provided her voice permits.

Another request is that her story telling schedules should be duly updated in her website so that ppl like me can plan in advance.

May her tribe increase.

Praba Ram said...

Great having you here, Jeeva! A neat exchange of thoughts between the two of you & a real treat for the rest of us!! Especially loved this line on - "storytelling is from the womb to the tomb"!!

Speaking of wombs, as crazy as this might sound - for a long time, one real-life story-telling in the family that would get my girls ROTFL was the "bringing them home as newborns from the hospital and narrating all the things they did the first few weeks..." we used to go crazy over special effects - coo-ing, hiccups, burps!! and also li'l fun stories about god-showing-pretty-flowers-in-their-baby-dreams that'd make them smile while napping and so on and so forth..!! :))
The girls used to love demonstrating growth milestones such as rolling over, crawling and such for me...LOL! Nothing like being the central characters of a story that's about u, right? :))

Thanks for sharing with us your real-life story as a story-teller!! You are the best! :)

sandhya said...

I had the pleasure of watching and listening to her storytelling at the Panchatantra session in Bangalore, and the one impression I carried away with me is her energy.

Poppins said...

Loved the only storytelling session by Jeeva that I attended - Stone Soup and the Monkey and Capseller. (Thanks Chox!) My daughter still talks about it, nearly a year later. You got to see her to believe her. She is amazing.

Artnavy said...

praba- I can imagine the fun

Not difficult to see that Jiva has a huge fan following among us!

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