Day 1 of GLF Gives a Glimpse into the Writerly World: Balancing Acts Between Idealism and Reality

 

Gujarat Literature Festival 2016 Day 1 On 16th of December in the city of Ahmedabad, book-lovers, recluses, students and curious minds at large came out from under various rocks to witness the coming together of multilingual literary conversations at the Kanoria Centre for Arts. With sessions being conducted equally in Gujarati, Hindi and English, it is extremely commendable to see a Festival of this scale attempting to bring together people from various linguistic backgrounds in the city of Ahmedabad.

A search for authenticity and connection

Particularly evident in certain conversations this day was a ringing search for authenticity.  In India, often the lesser-celebrated minds behind good cinema are the screenwriters – the ones who see themselves more as storytellers trying to bring forth strong characters to their audiences via the circuitous, if not often crazy, a pipeline of ‘show’ business, as Jaideep Sahniwriter of Chak De! India –put it. The struggle to maintain the authenticity of a writer’s original vision and to root that in the context of its characters – their dialects and cultural particularities – is one felt quite deeply by these writers. More so because to remain, good writers, they have to maintain their connection with society, whilst engaging in the blitz of the showbiz world – a process that can lend an insulating effect. Ritesh Shah writer of Pink and Airlift, however, brushed this fear of getting windswept by adulation aside, jokingly, “Thankfully, writers don’t get much credit in the industry anyway!”

In particular, being female screenwriters in an industry that is highly male-dominant – for even within the circuits of directors, the numbers of female directors are far and few – might seem difficult but Juhi Chaturvedi, writer of films with such unique subject matter as Vicky Donor, has a wonderful approach to her work. She emphasised that she does not approach people as a woman. She approaches them “as a mind”, so that differences can be rendered fewer.

IMG_9921

 

Of dwindling attention spans

Another curious concern that has clearly seeped into the world of literature today, as much as it has seeped into online media and news, is the subject of dwindling attention span. Ashwin Sanghi, author of best-sellers Chanakya Chants and Sialkot Saga, backed this concern up with statistics. Apparently between 2003 and 2013, the human attention span has declined by 33%, to a span of eight seconds. “Writers are better off writing for goldfish than for humans!” he laughed. Sanghi, however, is not one to be dismayed. With his background in economics and management – and being a self-confessed banya who even designs his story’s plots on an excel sheet – he has a strategic way of looking at his craft of writing. His goal is not so much to educate – though enormous research supports his historic stories – but to keep readers entertained at every step so that they are compelled to turn the page. This goal seems to be in step with how much of online media today is shaping itself to deliver entertainment in order to garner clicks. Agree with it or not, this is possibly a larger direction that literature is also headed towards.

 

On the flawed pursuit of “pure heroes”

On another note, what promised to be a no-holds barred discussion on whether Gandhi was a racist or casteist – prompted by news of a university in Ghana taking down Gandhi’s statue, and discussions triggered by Arundhati Roy’s introduction to Ambedkar’s ‘The Annihilation of Caste’ – proved to be quite a dignified affair, with the academics present for the occasion all yielding some diplomatic but strong arguments – in Gandhi’s favour. Professor Gopal Guru felt that if ‘untouchability’ is taken as the primary factor in understanding what caste is, then on the basis of Gandhi’s day-to-day dealings with the untouchables, one surely cannot say he was casteist – though he acknowledged that Gandhi may not have been radically anti-caste, unlike Ambedkar. Sudhir Chandra wisely and humbly advised that all should read Gandhi’s words and come to their own understanding of his morality; while Rajni Bakshi passionately deplored this underlying search for a “pure hero” that seems to fuel such oft-seen criticism of venerated figures. She pinned it down to a fear of ambiguity – of the uncertainty of the fact that we are all on “moral journeys” and will always fall short on some aspect in our lives, just as Gandhi may have.

With such discussions on the idealised world versus reality, of authenticity mixed with a yearning to be connected with society – the glimpse into a writerly world of critical thinking and progressive ideas is what the Gujarat Literature Festival is lending. There’s something to take away from every session, and just looking at the faces of the enthralled audiences that are gathering in droves in Ahmedabad to listen to debates and discourses, is inspiring in and of itself.

The festival continues on 17th and 18th of December with the host of promising deliberations on the cards.

Refer schedule here.

Gujarat literature festival 2016

Photographs : Pratik

 

Yatra Archives

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Irrfan-khan.jpg National Award winning actor Irrfan Khan dies at the age of 54

One of India’s most celebrated actors, Irrfan Khan known for his expressive eyes, died after succumbing to a long battle with cancer. He was 54.  A gaping void has been left in the Indian film industry as one of India’s…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/romeo-juliet.png Of youthful passion and star-crossed lovers on Shakespeare’s birthday

While the Globe is streaming free its second dramatic production Romeo and Juliet, today is 23rd April, the day William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is believed to have been born and died. One would seldom find a more spontaneous and intense expression…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Shubigi-Rao-Art.jpg Shubigi Rao selected to curate the fifth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2020

Let’s know Shubigi Rao, who has recently been selected as the curator for the 2020 Kochi Muziris Biennale, for her “exceptional acumen and inventive sensibilities” The format of the art biennale to showcase contemporary visual art, across the world is modeled on…

https://creativeyatra.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Dr-Yatin-Desai-Orthopaedic-surgeon.jpg The call of the mountains: orthopaedic Dr Yatin Desai’s advice on trekking

In this piece 64 year old Dr Yatin Desai, shares with CY his inspiring story of how to scale towering mountains with utmost ease and how this life adventure activity can shape human character and health. Chances are high that…