Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Oct 30, 2011

TALKING POINT : Hindu Literary Festival - Lit For Life 2011

First day of Hindu Literary Festival 2011 – Chennai
I have been waiting for the Hindu’s Lit For Life 2011 - Chennai – A literary festival spread over two days i.e 29th Oct and 30th Oct. Cancelled all my activities for these 2 days and focussed on only one thing, to find out for myself what the great writers are made of? I am not a writer in professional sense of it. Though I do write, from time to time, some sort of personal poetry, especially a kind of Haiku that I call Haiku T or Free Form Haiku and have this blog where I blog it. So I was surprised when the invitation for this festival came from Siyahi. Why me? But instead of questioning my good luck, I ensured that I am there at the new Hyatt Hotel at Mount Road in Chennai on 29th Oct, at 10 AM and be the kind of people, who Mohammad Hanif wondered about in the very first session – what kind of people turn up for a literary festival at 10.30AM on Saturday?

CMD of HIRCO, the sponsor of the Festival and Mr. David Davidar

The inaugural session was lovely, got to see a beautiful presentation about how the real estate companies like HIRCO are easing up the pressure on the cities like Chennai to take the construction towards satellite towns as well as hear CMD of HIRCO, Mr. Firdose Vandrewala’s one very beautiful story about the tradition of drawing water from the well as a bonding routine for the women of the country side. Well the other story, I am sorry to say (Believe me, it’s coming from a north Indian who has been living in Chennai for one and Half decade), was too much for the morning edition of Chennai crowd (as well as a very old joke)

Just In The Neighbourhood

Mohammad Hanif
The “Just In The Neighbourhood” discussion with Mohammad Hanif got us to a very lovely start and into the hyper mode with an introduction which made him out to be the most versatile conjuror of “F” words, which he later proved it to be true too. Particularly in case of the place he is currently living as he said, "A city which is pretty as well as...". The discussion was very interesting with full of insights from a pilot, who turned out to be a great writer. It was a pleasure to hear such a successful author from Pakistan with so much humility as well as genuine interest to bond with the audience. To top it all, he had a kind of humour that hits you both ways... e.g “Yes there are book shops in Pakistan” – 
But the most amazing and powerful thing that I took from his session are his words “To be a writer, start reading first” Perfect advice and I agree with you Mr. Hanif, so much.

Destination Detectives

Rahul Bhattacharya
As this session set the ball rolling, there could not have been a better way than to call in the Destination Detectives – Rahul Bhattacharya and Latha Anantharaman. Latha’s one comment got me glued to the whole session was “Irritation of an oyster leads to the birth of a pearl” and then Rahul with his charm, wit and his passion took over to really get me into the groove of the festival. It was good to hear that there are still some places apart from Mauritius, where Bhojpuri has an impact (I am from eastern UP, so it touched me) on the underlying culture of the society. Whereas the land of Bhojpuri in India – which is eastern UP and Bihar, is still stuck in the quagmire of politics, poverty and exploitation of all kinds including folk songs, music and films. Later on, when I caught up with Rahul and asked him, about Bhojpuri effect, he says, it would have been wonderful, if he had been a Bhojpuri person like me... So it was heartening to hear that our Bhojpuri folk music has some impact there in Guyana and searched for the specific song, Rahul had talked about in the discussion and here it is... Lotay-La
(You should check this You Tube Video too, called Lotay-La Original too, if you like. Though it’s called original is not actually the original song, Rahul correct me if I am wrong... I put this one here as it has better picture and sound quality...)

Is writing a healing?

In the next session, “Is writing a healing?” I thought was going to deal with healing as individual writers or readers, but not as community. I guess it was my fault in thinking or being narrow minded about it. Though I personally feel that in the emotional sense, writers and his/her words are more therapeutic individually (one to one) rather than at the mass level. At the mass level, I guess, it tends to be more of a rhetoric, or a clarion call like iconic “inquilab zindabad” or kind of movement like Anna Hazare’s, but not something, that one can take to one’s personal space and read or think about... anyways the session was great and as P Sivakami said, later on “In reality all writer’s are healers”. So true.


Then came the most important session, that I was looking forward to – The tragedy workshop by Zac O’Yeah. Since the registrations for the session was already closed, and I wrongly assumed that I can not attend it, so I left for a meeting. Luckily by the time I came back, the session was still on and well it was on for every one of the audience too. So, luckily, I could catch the real essence of the whole workshop – The stages of Writing

A)    Conceptualisaion
B)    Execution
C)    Editing

...and was able to listen to Zac O’Yeah saying, “For me, the editing is the most beautiful part” and he then goes on to give the most valueable advice too, in my opinion, “Take a 6 weeks break before you touch your book for editing. It will give you fresh insight for your work”. Though I have not yet started on the book, but I think I got the best advice from this session and a great powerful software for the writers – Ywriter from SpaceJock. Thank you Zac O’Yeah for this free software, which I think is or should be a ‘must’ for budding writers.

Saugata Mukherji Publisher Pan Macmillan India

The “Other Side of Books” got some of us thinking, that it’s all publishing talk and I don’t have to be here till I have actually written a book but personally speaking, I got it all wrong. The talk was lovely with Ravi Singh, Karthicka VK, Saugata Mukherji along with Urvashi Butalia and It’s really good to know what publishers would like to publish and what not... So here is the inside info...

Ravi Singh Publishing Director
Aleph and Rupa Publication
Management books, 7-ways / 70 or 100 ways to do this or that... is a strict no-no nowadays with reputed publishers. If you want to really get the publishers breaking your doors, especially Harper Collins, write Erotica or Sports Book. Well, come to think of it... Is Yoga is considered a sport or it’s only an thought arresting ... :-)? 

On the side lines, I was wondering where the poor fellows who write spirituality books will go? Self Publish, may be?

The best quote came from Ravi Singh from the session. “Pricing is an occult science” I agree. Could never work that out even after long explanation from the dais...

Suhasini Maniratnam - Actor and Producer
It was an interesting session with Suhasini Maniratnam, Khaled Mohamed and Anna M.M. Vetticad about Film Review, Film critics and social media. The beauty in the words of Suhasini Maniratnam hit me like a bolt from the sky. I always wondered, why the song and if there has to be a song then why dancers etc etc.. and she says, “Song is a multiplication of Joy, and with lots of dancers and chorus you multiply it even more” Then goes on to say, a great film reviewer herself, “That in the final stages of her productions, i.e 6 months before release, she stops buying magazines and looking at the reviews or news about the movies, she is producing, as it will only confuse”

Khaled Mohammed
In the next session, Khaled Mohammed and Anna Vetticad gave some really wonderful thoughts. Khaled says,”Reviewing is a very tough” as well as “Writing is the most difficult art” And I agree, that is the reason I still have not started writing... J And then he goes on to add, “I miss lots of people in my life, that’s why I write – to bring them back” I salute you Mr. Khaled, what a lovely and powerful thought.
Anna M M Vetticad - Journalist and Critic
In the final session, Anna Vetticad gave perfect thoughts about social media which is actually true and very apt in the age of information meltdown.
“You have to be accountable to every single word you write”
“On social media, you need to be more disciplined and less self indulgent”
“(On social media, its) the audience that makes you a great critic”

And the ending was admirably perfect with Vir Das coming on to the stage and wondering, why the hell he is there in a literary festival... a great and powerful stand up comedian who is not afraid to make fun of himself in public.... well I think he needs to do it first to himself, so that he can get away with the way he rips apart other people ... ;-) in the end, here I leave you with his introduction...

Hope you have enjoyed enjoyed my ramblings and will come back for the Day Two of Hindu Literary Festival 2011 – Chennai

Some of the GUYS WHO SPOKE UP...

Well some really did rather bad... 

To be continued tomorrow... Part II
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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