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Mumbai hosts India's first regional lit fest

From reading Bengali poetry to panel discussions on Malayalam writing, celebrate India’s diverse literature as the city hosts the first edition of a literary fest on regional languages

Keen to know where the Marathi publishing industry is headed or who is guilty of pushing regional writers to the sidewalks? Attend the panel discussions at the first edition of Gateway Litfest, India’s first literary festival to celebrate regional writings. Organised by the prominent Mumbai-based Malayalam literary magazine Kaakka, the inaugural edition will be a two-day affair, taking place over the weekend with panel discussions focussing on seven regional languages: Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya and Tamil.

Govind Nihalani
Govind Nihalani

Mohan Kakanadan, the magazine’s editor and executive director of the festival, elaborates, “Whenever we attend a lit fest, we see writers mainly from the English language. This prompted us to come up with a festival for the regional languages. With the help of few friends, we worked on this initiative through the year by aggressively selling this concept. As it is the first time, it wasn’t easy, but the number of authors who will be joining us is an indication of its acceptance.”

A cover  of the Malayalam literary magazine Kaakka
A cover of the Malayalam literary magazine Kaakka

Over 50 big ticket authors representing seven languages are expected at this two-day fest. These include Jnanpith Award winner Pratibha Ray from Odisha, veteran Gujarati writer Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Bengali poet Subodh Sarkar, Marathi writers like Dr Mahesh Keluskar and Malika Sheikh, Malayalam poet Anitha Thampi, as well as filmmakers like Govind Nihalani, Leena Manimekalai and Ananth Narayan Mahadevan. The festival will also host the release and a reading session of Marathi playwright and novelist Makarand Sathe’s book, A Socio-Political History Of Marathi Theatre.

Meanwhile, the advisory panel has renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, writers like Laxman Gaikwad, Ravi Subramanian, Satchidanandan, sound designer Resul Pookutty, artist Bose Krishnamachari and festival programmer Uma da Cunha. When asked why the team chose to celebrate only seven languages, Kakanadan reasons, “At the beginning, we didn’t want to focus on all the languages because of huge expenses involved. Also, we have no objection against English or Hindi. We are merely saying that regional languages should also come into the limelight, and that translations should be encouraged. This is a small attempt to put the regional languages on the same page with English and Hindi.”

Malayalam novelist Benyamin, one of the speakers at the fest, seconds this, “This festival may help us know the depth of regional writings and promote the translations between these languages.”

From: February 14 to 15
Time: 10 am to 7 pm (both days)
At: NCPA, Nariman Point.
Log on to: www.gatewaylitfest.com

Two must-attend events
>>
A panel discussion on ‘Too much global, too less regional: who is guilty of pushing regional writers and writings to the sidewalks?’ with authors Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Pratibha Ray, Subodh Sarkar and Benyamin.
ON February 14, 1 pm to 2 pm
>> Leena Manimekalai in conversation with Govind Nihalani on censorship.

On: February 15, 4.30 pm to 5.15 pm

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