Audity Falguni

Divisional Editor, nari.news

Although it was difficult, I did not give up! -Shahnaz Munni.

Shahnaz Munni is at present Chief News Editor in News24, a private TV channel. She completed her Honours and MA in Sociology from the University of Dhaka. Despite her busy life as is a television journalist, she is a prolific writer. She writes poems, short stories, as well as essays. Her first collection of short stories, Jiner Konnaya, was published in1997. Much of her work reflects the contemporary social and political scene of Bangladesh. 

Audity Falguni: Recently you recalled in one of your social network posts that your father was an Agrani Bank official and his write-ups used to get published in the annual souvenir of his office which caught your fancy as a child to become a writer. So father’s aptitude for writing inspired a little Shahnaz Munni to become today’s poet and story teller?

Shahnaz Munni: It is not imperative for a daughter to be a writer just because her father used to write. However, seeing the poems written by one’s father being printed can give a kind of inspiration. We were a middle class family in the seventies. There was an atmosphere of reading literature at home. My mother used to read“Begum” magazines regularly, Soviet Union, Udayan and Soviet Nari magazines used to come to our house as well.

Whenever I went to my uncle's house in Netrokona, the public library there was my favorite place. I used to take as many books as I could and read those all day. Maybe the desire to write my own was born from all of these experiences combined.

Audity Falguni: Though your hometown is located in Kishoreganj, you were born and brought up in Dhaka? Tell us about your parents, siblings, first school and college.

Shahnaz Munni: My father worked in Commerce Bank before Independence and later in Agrani Bank. Mother passed IA from Netrokona Government College but lived as a housewife. I am the eldest of two sisters and two brothers. The creative entity exists in my other three siblings as well. My sister is an artist. One of my brothers is a journalist, playwright, translator. Although my other brother is a doctor by profession, his hand in writing is excellent, but he prefers to read rather than write.

Audity Falguni: You were a student of sociology in Dhaka University. That was a crucial time with lots of movements against the dictatorial regime of Ershad and DU students were in forefront of the movement. Did that time shape your psychic world as an emerging poet and writer?

Shahnaz Munni: I spent the turbulent period of 87 to 94 in Dhaka University. I very closely witnessed the mass movement, the fall of dictatorship, the rise of people. The effect of that time is naturally in me. I have dreamt of democracy; I have also seen the breaking of dreams. Some contexts of this shines through in my novel named “Baish Anguler Jibon”.

Audity Falguni: You joined MANGAL SANDHYA little magazine during your student life and had the legendary romantic union with another contemporary poet of your time Sarker Amin who is now your husband and Deputy Director in Bangla Academy. Is marriage with a fellow poet or author is more advantageous for a creative person or even something reverse may happen (for in life of Sylvia Plath)?

Shahnaz Munni: Having two creative writers together does not always bring good results. However, Sarkar Amin and I were aware from the very beginning to maintain our individuality in the place of literary practice. Both of us have maintained personal freedom in what to write, where to write, how to write. Besides, we have tried to control our ego. We appreciate each other more than we criticize each other. In fact, it was not much of a problem for us because of mutual respect and good understanding.

Audity Falguni: You struggled a lot initially in your career but finally settled down in the profession of Journalism since joining in Ekushey TV. Today you are in a leading newsroom position in News 24. Also we could know from your social network posts that how tough it was for you as a young journalist and expecting mother to balance the two. Tell us a little bit about this journey.

Shahnaz Munni: I have a career of about 27 years. It's a very long story. But today, looking back, I can say that, although it was difficult, I did not give up. I was hardworking and physically healthy, so when I was in the office, I would give my time there, but when I was home, I would spend quality time with my children and give them every bit of my energy and attention. I would sit with my daughters at the same table and while they were studying, I would be writing with a notebook pen or laptop. I wrote in my breaks in the office. I wrote in the CNG, I wrote sitting in cars, I wrote whenever I had a free moment. Being a joint family, I was exempted from cooking, entertaining, etc. It is not that there weren’t ever any hurdles from family, but it never became unmanageable. Whenever I faced those hurdles, I tried to handle it calmly and patiently.

Audity Falguni: Now tell us about your creative fulfillment. Mention us about your first collection of poems and first collection of short stories and the last book authored by you. Mention us about total number of your books.

Shahnaz Munni: My first book of poetry ‘Rudhdhoshaash Boithoker Por’was published jointly with Sarkar Amin in 1990. My first short story collection ‘Jiner Konnya’ came out in 1997. The number of my books so far is 26.

Audity Falguni: What difference one creative person feels while writing poems and fiction? Can you please explain for us?

Shahnaz Munni: I think poetry expects a lot more attention, pampering. If I can fix the plot, I can write prose effortlessly, but to write poetry, I have to find time to concentrate, think deeply and immerse myself in myself. I wait for the poem, I flatter it, the demand for the poem is much higher. Writing prose takes a lot of hard work and thought, but every word of the poem has to be dug out of the heart.

Audity Falguni: Your first short story “Jiner Kanya” stunned us with its riches of vocabularies and crafts of storytelling. I was also impressed by some more stories like “Amar Juta Jibon,” “Dhanir Chira,” “Rupamoyeer Hat,” “Look Fare and Fine” or the latest one “Gultush” by you. Just mention us about the background of writing two particular stories from all these…I will prefer “Jiner Kanya (it’s very solemn in nature)” and “Gultush (it’s very sweet in treatment).”

Shahnaz Munni: When I wrote `Jjiner konnya’, I was may be 21/22 years old. I was mostly practicing poetry then. But stories were already inside me. I wrote several stories while in school and college.

I wrote ‘Jiner konnya’ from the dream of writing a new style of language, a new form of story. It was based on a rural story I heard from my mother.

Gultush was probably first written in 2002. Then I went to Char Muguria in Madaripur for reporting. There I heard a common story about monkeys roaming in the city streets. The rest is written from imagination.

Audity Falguni: You had and still have a very busy life of a top ranking journalist in this country, a writer as well as a wife and a mother. How much efforts you have to pay to combine all these?

Shahnaz Munni: I have adjusted everything. I have always been a multi-tasker. I keep a lot of files in my head. When I open what I need, I shut down the others. Journalism is my loved profession; writing is my passion. My family, children are part of my life. I have simply tried to accept life as it is.

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নারী'তে প্রকাশিত প্রতিটি লেখার বিষয়বস্তু, ক্রিয়া-প্রতিক্রিয়া ও মন্তব্যসমুহ সম্পূর্ণ লেখকের নিজস্ব। প্রকাশিত সকল লেখার বিষয়বস্তু ও মতামত নারী'র সম্পাদকীয় নীতির সাথে সম্পুর্নভাবে মিলে যাবে এমন নয়। লেখকের কোনো লেখার বিষয়বস্তু বা বক্তব্যের যথার্থতার আইনগত বা অন্যকোনো দায় নারী কর্তৃপক্ষ বহন করতে বাধ্য নয়। নারীতে প্রকাশিত কোনো লেখা বিনা অনুমতিতে অন্য কোথাও প্রকাশ কপিরাইট আইনের লংঘন বলে গণ্য হবে।