Neck deep in mind

IN A CITY THAT HAS SEL­DOM EN­JOYED THE STA­TUS OF AN ART CEN­TRE, THE NOVEM­BER WIND PROM­ISES TO CA­RESS ITS RES­I­DENTS WITH TWO MA­JOR LIT­ER­A­TURE FES­TI­VALS.

India Today - - SIMPLY PUNJABI BOOKS - BY SUKANT DEEPAK

t is early morn­ing and a pale dawn floats on mist’s shoul­ders. Blush­ing in­side, the nu­mer­ous swans in the lake sud­denly smash the wa­ter. The ef­fect is rem­i­nis­cent of a col­lec­tive burst of laugh­ter. The si­lence at Sukhna Lake prom­ises to make you a pris­oner of words as the ad­join­ing Lake Club gets set to play host to Literati, the Chandigarh Lit Fest in Novem­ber. The non-gov­ern­ment two­day (Novem­ber 23-24) de­but fes­ti­val has man­aged an im­pres­sive line-up of around thirty writ­ers and speak­ers in­clud­ing Jerry Pinto, Rahul Pan­dita, Rahul Bose, Gul Panag, Pra­soon Joshi, Upa­manyu Chat­ter­jee, Ir­shad Kamil, Ashok Vajpeyi, Kish­war De­sai and Nan­dita C. Puri among oth­ers. In­spired by the Jaipur Lit­er­a­ture

IFes­ti­val (JLF), and al­most on the same for­mat, Literati will boast of par­al­lel ses­sions, book­shops, food courts and cul­tural events. Su­mita Mishra, the Founder Chair­per­son and Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor, is op­ti­mistic that the two-day literary ex­trav­a­ganza will find a lot of tak­ers. “Thanks to JLF, which has brought back lit­er­a­ture in the main­stream, ev­ery town is now go­ing through a ‘me too’ syn­drome. What we have con­ceived is a pop­u­lar lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­val in the big­gest sense of the word. It is go­ing to be about repack­ag­ing and rebranding lit­er­a­ture, mak­ing it the ‘in thing’. En­try would be free and we are ex­pect­ing peo­ple from a cross-sec­tion who might come not just to lis­ten to the speak­ers but also to soak up the am­bi­ence.”

Vivek Atray, the Co­or­di­na­tor of Literati, says a sud­den boom in lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals in this part of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the one to be or­gan­ised by Adab foun­da­tion (Chandigarh Lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­val, sec­ond edi­tion) and Khushwant Singh lit­er­a­ture fest that con­cluded in Oc­to­ber, is some­thing to be cel­e­brated. “Like ev­ery­thing else, there is a sea­son for such fes­ti­vals, that is why the over­dose in th­ese months. More­over, most of the peo­ple who go to Kasauli are from Chandigarh. This proves that the city has a large au­di­ence for such events. As long as there are tak­ers for mul­ti­ple fes­ti­vals, what’s the harm if the city plays host to more than one?”

Mi­tul Dixit of Adab Foun­da­tion, which will be or­gan­is­ing the Chandigarh Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val for the sec­ond year in a row, in­sists his

In th­ese lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals, the reader gets to in­ter­act with the per­son be­hind the writ­ten word, which is great, for both. —Rahul­Pan­dita,

au­thor In times when books have taken a back seat as com­pared to other per­form­ings arts, more lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­vals are def­i­nitely wel­come. —Niru­pa­maDutt, au­tho­rand­critic

for­mat has been de­signed to keep all the tamasha away and con­cen­trate only on books. “We have iden­ti­fied 13 ma­jor crit­ics who will dis­cuss books with the au­thors and later in­ter­act with the au­di­ence. There will be two-hour read­ing ses­sions be­sides en­act­ment of some pas­sages by lo­cal the­atre groups,” he says.

All the au­thors, whose books have been nom­i­nated, will be present for in­ter­ac­tions, in­clud­ing SR Faruqi ( The Mir­ror of Beauty), nom­i­nated by Bi­lal Tan­nweer; Manu Joseph ( Se­ri­ous Men), nom­i­nated by Suresh Menon; Jerry Pinto ( Em and the Big Hoom), nom­i­nated by Niru­pama Dutt; Prab­hat Ran­jan ( Bolero Class), nom­i­nated by Satyanand Niru­pam and many more. Man­jula will be con­duct­ing a live ses­sion from New York dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Art and writ­ing com­pe­ti­tions, and other in­ter­ac­tive ex­er­cises have also been planned to in­crease au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion. Films in­clud­ing BA Pass, Ghan­chakkar and Mid­night’s Chil­dren would be screened too. This would be fol­lowed by dis­cus­sions on the films. Shilpa Shukla, the pro­tag­o­nist of BA Pass, who will be present at the screen­ing, tells SIM­PLY PUN­JABI, “I am glad that such fes­ti­vals are

I am glad Chandigarh Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val is also screen­ing films. The amal­ga­ma­tion of lit­er­a­ture and cin­ema should be fas­ci­nat­ing. —ShilpaShukla,

ac­tor

screen­ing con­tent-driven cin­ema. The pre­req­ui­site of a good film is a solid script. Some purists ar­gue about the pur­pose of screen­ing films at a lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­val, but I think this is a great plat­form. You re­ally can’t ap­pre­ci­ate a par­tic­u­lar art­form in iso­la­tion.”

Rahul Pan­dita, the au­thor of Hello Bas­tar and Our Moon Has Blood Clots, says, “As an au­thor, I choose not to go to all of them (fes­ti­vals) for the fear of re­peat­ing my­self. But, con­sid­er­ing that most peo­ple don’t have a prob­lem spend­ing Rs 500 for pop­corn at a mul­ti­plex, but find it tough to shell out the same amount for a book, it says a lot about the so­ci­ety that we live in. It’s im­por­tant that such fes­ti­vals are held in small cities so that the lo­cal au­thors there get a chance to en­gage with the vis­it­ing ones. That is the rea­son I had so ve­he­mently op­posed the can­cel­la­tion of Harud Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val in Sri­na­gar. It could have been a great plat­form for Kash­miri voice.”

Novem­ber’s nip will de­ci­pher how the two fes­ti­vals are re­ceived by the peo­ple. But even if the straight sharp lines bend a lit­tle into er­ratic pat­terns, it would surely be worth it.

Artist Piyush Mishra dur­ing the first Chandigarh Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val

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