Crime and Punishment : Homi Bhabha, Martin Puchner introduced by Namita Gokhale, with dramatic enactment by Suhel Seth – Discussion at the Jaipur Literature Festival
Festival director Namita Gokhale started the session by referring Suhel, Homi and Martin as the people who know the novel very well. Padma Bhushan Homi Bhabha talked on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic text Crime and Punishment and the nature of accountability, culpability and morality of the novel. Literary critic Martin Puchner started by mentioning that he is feverish but described it as an ideal state of reading Crime and Punishment.
Homi said that novel has the life of its own as it takes up the issues of the reason behind a crime and it opens up what a crime is and the ‘criminality’ and how people think of killing someone but it is quite metaphorical. Seth went on to say that his upcoming book is thematic of that the intent of committing a crime is a crime in itself, what kind of crime constitutes criminality and what crimes take a form of lesson for everyone. He said that ‘history has the art of reversing criminality’ and how some people become saints overnight from being a terrorist in the opinion of some people.
Martin said that “one person’s crime is other person’s virtue” but the novel is not about what a crime is but what kind of mind produces crime. Homi said that no religion says that murdering is not crime but it’s the lack of education which is causing huge decline humanity. People are spending four times more money on junk mails in comparison to the money spent on education. Seth mentioned a quote from M.J. Akbar’s book The shade of swords that “Jihad is not an invitation to kill but an invitation to die” but there are some religions that use religion that use criminality.
Homi talked about a Woody Allen’s movie “Matchpoint” in which the husband kills her wife to mark an end to the problem of his life relating it to the novel in which the protagonist believes that killing the pawnbroker might be an end to his problem. On being asked about the leaders with criminal records Seth said that India has ‘reprehensible judiciary system’ and we don’t have swift justice as the jury system in India was junked after the Nanawati trial. He also said that “criminality is contextual”. Namita ended the session on a lighter note by stating JLF as the most precisely running festival in India.
By Sunny Kumar
Image Source : Crime And Punishment