Regional literature gets a shot in the arm at the third edition of the Gateway LitFest
(Left-right) Mustansir Dalvi, Hemant Divate, Sachin Ketkar, Jerry Pinto and Laxman Gaikwad at a session on Marathi Literature at last year's edition.
Two years ago, Mohan Kakanadan felt a sense of pure joy as he put up a houseful board outside the Little Theatre at NCPA. It was the debut year of the Gateway LitFest that celebrates regional writing, and even having the Little Theatre filled to capacity gave the organisers a sense of achievement. In 2016, the festival shifted to the Experimental Theatre where it will be held this year as well. Kakanadan, editor of Mumbai-based Malayalam magazine Kaakka, and director of the fest, feels the number of attendees has increased: "So far, nearly 600 people have registered this year."
Mumbai is the venue not only because both Kakanadan and M Sabarinath, executive director, are based here, but also since, "the concept of the festival that brings together several languages synergises perfectly with Mumbai, the ultimate melting pot, and will help conserve the city's literary roots, which could otherwise vanish before we knew it," as Sabarinath says. This year, the theme of the two-day Gateway LitFest is the Contemporary Face of Indian Literature, and will focus on Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam and Punjabi. Emerging authors will be part of panel discussions, which the organisers see as a way to introduce them to a wider audience.
"We will felicitate Haldhar Nag, Odisha's Padma Shri poet ,with the lifetime achievement award. He will recite a poem on stage in Sambhalpuri in his typically eccentric manner, and it will be exciting to see how the audience reacts," shares Sabarinath.
The other fresh addition is a college students' debate scheduled on the second day, which has received an encouraging response from colleges across Maharashtra and Gujarat. The debate may become a regular feature and in the coming years, Sabarinath tells us, they intend to discover and hone new talent as well.
Another interesting session, Bollywood is Not Indian Cinema, will be chaired by filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan with panelists like Malayalam screenwriter-filmmaker Anjali Menon, Bengali actor-filmmaker Bratya Basu and Tamil director Vasanta Balan on the dais. Menon who wrote the acclaimed Ustad Hotel, says she is thrilled to be part of the panel at a literary festival. "Films involve writing of a specialised kind but somehow don't receive attention."
Menon also feels that in the past couple of years, the ROI (Return On Investment), of regional cinema has been high; the best example being Sairat which despite being a Marathi film made on a budget of R4 crore, raked in nearly R400 crore last year. Availability and accessibility via subtitles has increased for regional cinema, something that Sabarinath and Kakanadan hope will also happen for regional literature.
AT: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point. FREE
A two-day literature festival will feature authors like Meghna Pant and Kiran Manral, and include sessions, ranging from body shaming to writing about the Indian Army.
ON: Today & Feb 24, 10 am onwards
AT: Grant Medical College Gymkhana
3 MUST-CATCH SESSIONS
Opening ceremony and felicitation of Haldhar Nag
ON: February 25, 11 am to 1 pm
Bollywood is Not Indian Cinema: Three regional filmmakers with several hits to their credit, talk about why Indian films aren’t just about singing and dancing over-the-top-ness in Hindi.
ON: February 25, 5.40 pm to 6.40 pm; February 26, 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm
Script Free Languages: Did you think of Khasi, Mythili, Kosali, and Ahirani as languages that use borrowed scripts? If you did, now might be a good time to learn more about their origins.
ON: February 26, 12.15 pm to 1.15 pm
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