It is rightly said that Literature feeds the soul, and the people of the Tricity were here to have their share at the 6th Chandigarh Literature Festival, which was held among high spirits and enthusiasm from 10th-12th November, at Panjab University Chandigarh.
The second day began with a power packed session with Kiran Nagarkar & his novel Jasoda- critiqued by Sreenivasan Jain. They talked about the book and the dark streak that Nagarkar’s writings so often possess. Next up was Manglesh Dabral with his work “Naye Yug Mei Shatru”- refined and touching poetry, which was discussed in detail with Asad Zaidi the critic of the book.
Following him was Nidhi Dugar, author of ”The Lost Generation”. Rajesh Sharma was the critic who’d nominated the book and an arresting discussion about the various dying professions that Nidhi had highlighted in her book, followed.
Mythology- in particular “The Mahabharata”- was the topic of discusson next, with Kartikha Nair’s book “Until The Lions”, in conversation with critic Annie Zaidi. The book was an interesting take on the epic, from the point of view of the marginal and less important characters.
Meanwhile in another part of the building, a scintillating discussion on “Contemporary Art of North India” was in full swing, with panelists Dr. Guneeta Chadha, Rajesh Chadha, and Nonika Singh, Assistant Editor, The Tribune with moderator Rajneesh Vats. It wrapped up with an interactive session with the audience.
“Mohanaswamy” a moving, autobiographical tale about a homosexual boy and the challenges he had to contend with in the society, was to sweep away the audience next. Author Vasudhendra, along wth critic Annie Zaidi talked about the issue which has become a taboo, and the isolation that is consequent.
Concluding the night was the much awaited “Qissebaazi”, where Danish Husain and Manu Sikandar Dhingra held the audience spell bound by weaving a series of tales set in a fantastic, imaginary world.
The next day, the avid literature lovers then lend their ears to a conversation between author Rohini Mohan and critic Mukul Kesavan. Mohan has written “The Seasons of Trouble” an account of the Sri Lankan Civil war through the eyes of the citizens themselves.
“Anaarkali of Ararah” was also screened, followed by a discussion on the movie by the Director Avinash Das and critic Mihir Pandya. The audience was immensely engaged in questions regarding the movie.
Next up was Malik Sajad, with his graphic novel “Munnu: A boy from Kashmir” (where he’d documented the human toll of the crisis on people like him), and crtitic Akhil Katyal. The session however, had to be cut short due to a couple of members from the audience losing their cool over the controversial issue and turning to incessant shouting. After the particular audience members had been escorted out of the venue, the program resumed and author and critic were called back on stage and presented with tokens of appreciation.
It was followed by a panel discussion on “Writing Scared: Freedom of Expression and Punjabi Literature” with panelists Prof. Surjit Singh and Daljit Ami, and moderator Amandeep Sandhu. The Gauri Lankesh murder was also touched upon, and there was talk of how the voices of journalists and writers is being suppressed today.
The last book of the day was by author Hansda Sowendra- “The Adivasi Will Not Dance” which brought controversies to his doorstep and also cost him his job as a doctor. Along with critic Vivek Menezes, his book “The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey” was dissected, and the backlash he’d faced from writing about Santhals was addressed.
The power of poetry was witnessed in the event “New Words” where young poets- namely Vikramaditya Sahai, Aditi Rao, Shivam Dhall, Nosheen Prashar, Shrenik Mutha, Puneet Raj Singh- presented their works in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, etc to the delight of the audience. The curators of the event were Akhil Katyal and Amy Singh who also wooed people with their fine works.
“We’re trying to engage with more people, and want the youth to be involved. We’re really happy with the response, and feel like the festival has been more dynamic this year,” said Annie Zaidi, Director of the Festival and an author herself.
The authors complemented by an interested audience created a vibe in the air that was hard to escape.
“I really liked the format of CLF. There are times where you go to Literature fesivals and don’t know what to say- the fixed format made that easier,” laughed Hansda. “I loved being a part of CLF, it was a great experience.”
The festival came to a bittersweet end, and wrapped up with the promise of the next CLF. The dates of next year’s CLF were announced well in advanced.
About the Author:
As you reap, so shall you sow-there’s no fairer judge in the universe than karma.
Hi, I’m Vrinda Gupta, avoracious reader and an avid-writer. Writing, to me, is a way to give wings to your voice, a voice which must not be constrained by conventions,
Or bogged down by have-to’s. There is
No substitute for hardwork; every ounce of effort one puts in, will eventually pay off someday. A
Considerate attitude and an open mind are key mantras to a successful and fulfilling life, and
These are beliefs that I live by.