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Kishwar Desai is an award-winning author and playwright who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest book, The Longest Kiss : The Life and Times of Devika Rani, based on the personal papers and letters of the iconic actress will be published by early December. The book has emerged from a fifteen year search for documents and material.

Kishwar worked in television as an anchor and producer for over twenty years before becoming a writer. She is the chairperson of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust that set up the world’s first Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar. She also helped to install the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside Westminster in the UK.

Kishwar is the author of Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt (2007). Her novel Witness the Night won the Costa First Novel Award in the UK, in 2010, and was followed by two others: Origins of Love (2012) and Sea of Innocence (2013). The trilogy featuring Simran Singh has since been optioned for a web series.

Kishwar’s first work of political non-fiction, Jallianwala Bagh: The Real Story (2018), won critical acclaim and inspired exhibitions on the massacre in India, the UK and New Zealand. She also wrote a play, Manto! which won the TAG Omega award for Best Play in 1999. Most recently, in 2019, her play, Devika Rani: Goddess of the Silver Screen, produced by Lillete Dubey, was successfully staged in venues across India.

Kishwar Desai

Panel on - Desire and Sexuality, an unseen side of Society (Educating the Educated)

On 28th Nov - 6.00 pm to 6.40 pm


The Longest Kiss: The Life and Times of Devika Rani

On 29th Nov 3.00 p.m. - 3.40 p.m.

It was difficult to write down Devika's oeuvre. Yet, over 15 years of fastidious examination on her life for a book that caused me to discover Devika's voice. I have put together the book with respect to real material from her unpublished letters and records just as meetings that I directed over the span of my exploration. Hence, I figure, you will locate her story is altogether different from those of different entertainers of the 1930s and the 1940s.

In spite of the fact that Devika's acting ability drew offers from Hollywood, even during the 1930s she drew more consideration for a delayed kissing scene she instituted in the movie Karma with Himansu Rai. Indeed the play starts with a columnist getting some information about the term of the kiss at the debut of Karma. Devika, the fantastic niece of Rabindranath Tagore, was feisty, certain and cosmopolitan since early on. As to kiss, in spite of the reality she was a newcomer to the medium, she nearly lies on top of Himansu and kisses him with complete desert in her first film that was delivered in 1933. Obviously later she fled with her driving man Najm-Ul-Hassan. All that is in the play as are different minutes in her day to day existence which are not referred to broadly however be similarly stunning as this was occurring during the 1930s and 1940s.