Diwali Anks register surge in demand with fresh ideas
The century-old journal has launched prominent Marathi writers like Jayant Dalvi, Narayan Dharap and Asha Bage, and poets like Madhu Mangesh Karnik. Today, young Marathi writers who have successfully sold three to four reprinted editions of their books also debuted through the Anks
MUMBAI The Diwali Ank, a respected literary journal published by around 400 disparate publishers across the state between Dussehra and Diwali annually, is seeing a resurgence in numbers over pre-pandemic time. Twin factors have led to the surge: the edition hitting the stands in the middle of the month, therefore making it affordable for the middle-class Marathi reader (it is priced around ₹300); and for the first time, as the journal’s popularity has reached rural Maharashtra, it has managed to draw in a larger readership as well as new emerging talent.
Sanjay Bhaskar Joshi, who gave up his corporate career to open a book shop Rajhans Pustak Peth in Pune, is jubilant with the pre-orders, “which is almost 30% higher than the pre-pandemic era”. “We have asked publishers to provide extra copies,” he said.
Joshi who has been in business for 15 years said, “Marathi readers love the classics, available at discounted rates. This year, editors and publishers have also used stories inspired by contemporary issues. We have offered heavy discounts on the edition. Alongside, as we have also started promoting it on social media (YouTube, Insta), pre-booking enquiries have gone up online.”
The century-old journal has launched prominent Marathi writers like Jayant Dalvi, Narayan Dharap and Asha Bage, and poets like Madhu Mangesh Karnik. Today, young Marathi writers who have successfully sold three to four reprinted editions of their books also debuted through the Anks. These include Ganesh Maktkari, Pankaj Bhosale, Rishikesh Gupte, Pranav Sakhdev and Shilpa Kamble.
At one time, even stalwarts such as P L Deshpande and P K Atre were prolific contributors.
The market for the Diwali Anks spans 21 days; publishers this year are expecting revenues upwards of ₹30 crore – a significant jump from the less than ₹20 crore two years ago.
Jayraj Salgaonkar, editor and publisher of the 31-year-old ‘Kalnirnay’ Diwali Ank, said, “This year, the Ank has undergone a remarkable transformation, with fresh content and innovative concepts and illustrations that are capturing the attention of avid readers. Most publishers have reported robust pre-booking figures.”
Salgaonkar also pointed to a surge in advertisements “as more money is flowing into the market, so we expect transaction of over ₹30 crore, a significant boost for us”.
A single edition has a minimum of 2000 issues. Prominent and popular issues have print orders ranging between 10,000 to over 50,000 issues. “During the pandemic, we cut down on our print order, but last year we needed to reprint our ‘Dhananjay’ Diwali Ank. This year, therefore, we decided to print more to fulfil demands of readers. We plan to release issues in e-book format,” said Nilima Kulkarni, publisher of the six-decade-old ‘Chandrakant’ and ‘Dhanajay’ Diwali Ank.
The surge in demand reflects the evolving preferences of readers. Arun Shevate, editor and publisher of ‘Ruturang’ Diwali Ank, said, “The over 400 varieties of Anks offer an extensive range to readers. The journals are almost an important hook for the avid reader as well-known Marathi magazines have exited the market over the last decade. Diwali Ank has filled that void.”
This year the theme of ‘Ruturang’ Diwali Ank is ‘Our People’. The cover is an image from the Oscar-winning documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, with an interview of author Pooja Sawant inside. The issue, which is already on the stands also has articles authored by poet and lyricist Gulzar who has written about his driver, cook, and two key people in his life in a piece titled ‘My right hands.’ There is also an article on Sahir Ludhianvi by poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar.
“This diversity draws readers who have varied interests, making the Marathi Diwali Ank a versatile and inclusive literary tradition that has thrived for over a century,” Shevate added.
The first Ank hit the market in 1909, with an issue titled ‘Manoranjan,’ edited by K R Mitra, who got the idea from Christmas specials published in USA. The journals were first circulated free of charge, and gradually publishers of other Marathi magazines also jumped into the fray. “Diwali Anks always moved with the times, although major changes in content were witnessed over the last 10 years. From literature, the Anks have now embraced topics such as politics, technology and other concerns that drive the youth,” said Hemat Karnik, Marathi scholar and editor of Akshar Diwali Ank.
Ashok Kothawale, publisher of ‘Deepawali’ and ‘Lalit’ Diwali Ank for the past six decades, concurred: “While the earlier Anks were steeped in culture and tradition, today stories from film, sports and health are also included.” He also highlighted how writers from rural Maharashtra have found a launch vehicle with the Ank. “Readers now have a choice of reads from farming to the economy, suspense to comedy. This helps us connect with a diverse readership.”
On the back of this, Kulkarni said, “for the first-time advertisers approaching us till the day of deadline. It is a significant financial boost for publishers.”
Sushil Atre, a lawyer from Jalgaon, is one of the many avid Ank collectors. He has issues of Dhanajay Diwali Ank since 1986. “I collect them as books. Whenever I wish to read a story by a favourite author, I reach out for one from my collection – they are all there,” said Atre, who also has been a contributor to the ‘Dhanajay’ Diwali Ank since 2012. “The Anks played a key role in my progression from a reader to a writer. These collections are by biggest assets.”