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.
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,
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