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Day - 4 ( 2ndNov'14 ): Multiple venues, multiple speakers ( eminent personalities of high reputes ), multiple sessions ( debates, talks, creative performances, literary conversations etc ) ~ which does one choose? It can be quite overwhelming when you have so many options to choose from and all interesting topics too! I wanted to attend all, but the timings & venues were clashing. So, since the Awards Nite was scheduled at the Experimental Theatre, I decided to hang around there and attend the ones held there. Unlike the first day, I went under the umbrella of the event's blogging partner and took a media pass. Media Pass entitles one with premium reserved seats with better view :-)
12PM-1PM : I arrived just in time when Jaya Bachchan was in conversation with Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi on the failure of Literature in informing current cinema. First of all it was surreal to see 'Guddi' right before my eyes. She seemed quite humble and so down-to-earth in her approach. She spoke about her background a first time of sorts. Despite making her debut in Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar, Jaya Bachchan confessed that she had never really been "into" his work; adding that Ray was very particular about the minutest detailing of every scene/characters etc. Her cinema had been always the literary stuff and she spoke reminiscing the past how it was important to have literature ( and also mythology to keep the culture alive ) in our cinema. After watching a normal flick, one normally goes to have a burger; but after watching a movie with literary ethics one goes home, thinks and discusses every scene with the family. Which is quite true. "I can stay up all night after a good film, with a cup of tea or coffee, discussing every scene," says Jaya Bachchan.
She also spoke a lot on her father-in-law Shri Harivansh Rai Bachchan, how he gave them all the liberty and freedom to grow. One never grows if they are in someone's shadow, says Jaya. Being a good human being is more important, was HR Bachchan's advise. She recited some poetry from Bachchan's books ( saying they were 'timeless' ) and also hoped to make a film on his life, of the time-period when he was in his 30's and before, as it contained lot of literary value. She also said she might too appear in Television soon ( in 2015 ) and also spoke about her husband, the great Amitabh Bachchan, about how she often asked him "After KBC, what?" Some highlights of her session : "Unfortunately, today's cinema is more business than craft. Why call anything "arthouse"?" she questioned. Literature need not be serious, it can be comedy too, citing example of 'Chupke Chupke'. "There is nothing hypocritical in making masala movies. They are truly entertaining!" she clarified during a Q&A. "Younger filmmakers need to bring in regional flavours to film, and not as caricature. You don't see me on screen because I don't want to be part of what is currently happening in film. Without literature, you can't make cinema." Lastly, she said candidly, "I wasn't worried about this conversation, but I am worried about embarrassing @sdshanghvi."
"Cinema and writing, one form fuels the other," SDS had said, ahead of his conversation with Jaya Bachchan. It was a packed house with audience in full attention to every word spoken. With the length of this section alone, one can guess how attentive I was.
2PM-3PM : The session that followed was one by some of the most renowned dare-devil journalists I had ever seen; with most of them often reporting live from ground-zero ( risking their lives ). It was a pleasure and more of 'awe' really to watch The World Through Multiple Lenses. What is Global Reportage? With Barkha Dutt, Nik Gowing, Pranay Gupte and Govindraj Ethiraj. It was quite an action packed session, full of energy, perhaps because of the vibe these journalists carried via the work that they do. "We, as a news channel, are under pressure to not seem out of sync with our competitors," said Barkha Dutt, also adding that not many times they can't broadcast the news they really want to, wondering if the viewers would want to see that ~ giving reference to the current Syria/ISIS crisis. But with Al-Qaeda's recent India threat, it made the news very relevant, added Nik Gowing. Someone asked about the fiasco that happened during live reporting of 26/11, giving the terrorist-handlers prior information related to security - "it was a lesson learnt," said Barkha taking responsibility, and also informed how a new rule was formulated later to avoid such mistakes in the future. She also reminisced how during Kargil'99, they didn't have any mobile/sattelite phones to deliver the news; and had to largely depend on hand-delivery of the tape via some army guy who would be going next in the helicopter to the city; and how now the scenario has changed so drastically. These days, most important news have been uploaded and sent in by the citizen journalists themselves ( going through the trauma ) using their mobiles eg. Yazidi's plight in Iraq, Korea's recent shipwreck coverage, volcano in Japan etc. Another interesting question was - "How do you justify stretching one news piece for an hour if you claim we've short attention spans?" @BDutt said give alternative revenue models. "Audience sitting in the audience themselves are the TRP."
"Adapt the change" @BDutt also said, adding that exciting times were ahead because of newer technology that could lead to niche/expertise journalism. Television has had to change their way of reporting news because of social media, like in the past 'print' had to change because of TV. "Blogging and availability of multiple mediums have blurred the defining lines of global journalism. Although, as technology makes reporting easier, has the value attached to it become lesser/shallow?" asked @BDUTT. "How much global news is there in domestic media?"
"Be very careful of what you define as an international story," advised @NikGowing, also stretching to get the difference between 'popular' and 'populist' while reporting news; while also shedding light on 'What makes a story, a good international story'. "In past, the sanctity of a story was created by the limitations of technology. We can't expect that anymore," he said.
3.30PM-4.30PM : was the Launch of the Silver Anniversary issue of 'The Great Indian Novel' followed by Shashi Tharoor in conversation with Anil Dharker. First let me say ~ Shashi Tharoor looks too stylish and handsome; that was my first reaction on seeing him ~ and very young too! Another very interesting session it was, with Tharoor describing himself as 'sort-of' politician; advising young India to pursue a career in politics as early as possible to ensure better innings ( compared to him where even those 20 yrs younger than him are 20yrs more experienced than him in politics - as he joined quite late ). The man speaks flawless and with an accent that sounds so cool, so A-M-R-E-E-K-A-N!
"Culture has become much more intolerant in the past few years," said @ShashiTharoor. The book he wrote was in '89, when Salman Rushdie got Fatwa for his Satanic Verses, but in India the situation was not like as it is today ~ where he might have easily drawn the ire of right-wingers had it been published it today. He revealed how he blended mythological figures with modern day characters in his book 'The Great Indian Novel' ( a re-telling of the Mahabharata of sorts ), and then went on to read some chapters from his satirical novel. What made it more interesting was he also acted out the parts quite animatedly. He also gracefully accepted a flaw in his book, indicated by a journalist, who said that a 'Langra Aam' generally stays green even when they ripen and not necessarily become yellow, as mentioned in the book.
"The more I write, more possibilities occur to me," ShashiTharoor, Author & Politician, said, on what inspires him to write. He said, he might write fiction too someday again, but it is much more easier to write non-fiction, where in fiction you create a whole different world & characters and it is quite hard to catch up once you go off to do some other work in-between, which is not the same case with non-fiction, where it is much easier to carry on from where one left off earlier.
@AnilDharker asked: Why don't we write epics anymore?
@ShashiTharoor answered: We don't live in epic times anymore.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the session ;-)
6.30PM-7.30PM : The moment finally arrived, culmination of 5th Edition of THE TATA LITERATURE LIVE, The Mumbai LitFest, Mumbai's premier international literary festival, with the Grand AWARDS CEREMONY! instituted by the festival and hosted by Anuvab Pal, whereby the best and outstanding voices in Indian literature ( spanning a wide array of genres and including both distinguished and new emerging writers alike ), were to be commemorated and felicitated by various dignitaries and jury members. Anuvab being a stand-up comedian, immediately got on to his job like a pro, making everyone nearly fall off their chairs, laughing. He took a dig on every caste/community and how, but ensured that he wasn't showered bullets upon, by making fun of his own first! "The reason I think I've been invited here is because I'm a Bengali," he mused. I wished I had recorded all that he said, and kept hearing it over and over, because it was all just too funny, in such a serious place.
The first Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award went to prolific Indian poet, Joy Goswami, who writes in Bengali. Goswami’s works are vivid, sensuous, and innovative in style that shot to prominence in the 1970s, and are considered important following the era of legends like Jibananda Das and before him, Rabindranath Tagore. Poetry is a genre of literature, that is often neglected and has a very selected niche audience, hence, this award was introduced with the objective of honouring the most inspiring literary form and bringing it to focus. Acclaimed poet, Mr. Ashok Vajyapee and Mr. Khushroo Suntook, Chairman, NCPA, felicitated Goswami at the awards ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Goswami said, “It is quite unbelievable for me to be here at the 5th Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. I am grateful to the jury for choosing me for this award. I would like to offer my thanks to all the literature lovers present here. I was astonished when I received a call from Anil Dharker informing me about this award. He said he has read my poems translated in English. I would like to extend my special thanks to him.”
Joy Goswami credited his wife Kaveri ( also present ), for the award and called her 'the sole owner of this auspicious moment'. He read out some lines, before giving the podium to Shampurno Chatterjee, who has translated his works ~ that took almost eight years to complete with frequent exchange of phone calls & mails. She read out a poem specially written for the LitFest by the poet ( requested by Dharker himself ), as well as another one that was connected to it. Even the anchor Anuvab read out some simple lines from one of Goswami's works, that had great impact.
In the first book Fiction category, award went to Mahesh Rao for his savagely funny and deeply poignant debut fiction, ‘The Smoke Is Rising’. The book is a riveting portrait of a city hurtling towards an epic clash of modernity and tradition, and all the wandering souls – some hopeful, some broken, and a few somewhere in-between – who find themselves caught in the middle. The award was presented by Carol Andrade, a Senior Journalist, an esteemed member of the jury. This year, the fiction categories for the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award and Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Award were judged by Carol Andrade, Senior journalist; Anil Dharker, Festival Director, Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest; Author,Basharat Peer; Author, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi; and Poet and Author, Arundhathi Subramaniam. [PR]
The inaugural award of the Tata Literature Live! Best Business Book of the Year Award, instituted to recognise the best business writing in the Indian literary space, was won by Rajiv Narang and Devika Devaiah for their book, ‘Orbit-Shifting Innovation - The Dynamics of Ideas that Create History’. This book empowers readers to over-
come obstacles to innovation and provides the tools to maximize the impact of transformative change. Narang was part of the National Planning Commission Panel to recommend ‘India's Innovation Strategy’. Devika Devaiah is the Director of Erehwon Innovation Consulting. The award was given away by Ms. Neeru Nanda. The esteemed jury for the Tata Literature Live! Business Book Award comprised Harish Bhat, Member – Group Executive Council, Tata Sons; R. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Tata Sons; Abheek Singhi, Senior Partner and Director, The Boston Consulting Group; Usha Sangwan, Managing Director, Life Insurance Corporation of India; and Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Social Venture Partners India. [PR]
It took over 20 years of research for this book and comprised of a much larger team effort as mentioned by Rajiv Narang in his acceptance speech, while Devika pointed out the fact that both of them were from north and south parts of India but had worked together without a hitch a reference really to Anuvab who had earlier poked fun on such regional divides that India has.
In the Non-Fiction category, Rana Dasgupta won the award for his book, ‘Capital - The Eruption of Delhi’ in which Dasgupta examines one of the great trends of our time: the expansion of the global elite. Capital is an intimate portrait of the city of Delhi that offers a glimpse of what capitalism will become in the coming, post-Western world. Dasgupta’s earlier book 'Solo' won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book: Europe and South Asia. Senior journalist, Dileep Padgaonkar (jury member) announced the winner. [PR] He mentioned the overwhelming plethora of hundreds of books that they had to choose from, which was not easy.
For Fiction, award went to Damon Galgut for his book, ‘Arctic Summer’. Meticulously researched and vividly imagined, Arctic Summer conjures up the figure of E.M. Forster as he struggles to write his masterpiece, A Passage To India. Galgut’s earlier works have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Poet and Author, Arundhathi Subramaniam (jury member) announced the winner. [PR]
Legendary Malayalam author, scriptwriter and film director, M T Vasudevan Nair, was felicitated as the Landmark Literature Live! and given the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the Indian literary space. Recipient of 24 literary awards, and over 30 film awards, Nair, at the age of 81, has received the country’s most prestigious literary awards - the Jnanpith and several Sahitya Akademi awards. The award was given away by Dr. Mukund Rajan, Member – Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, and Founder and Festival Director, Mr. Anil Dharker.
Receiving the award, Nair said, “It’s an unforgettable occasion for me to be honoured amidst such illustrious authors and poets. I stand in front of you to receive this honour, while I remember the struggles of many authors from previous generations. In our times, children were supposed to help their family in agriculture. But that did not stop me from pursuing my passion. In my adolescence, writing was a game I could play alone. After 700 works of writing, I am still nervous like a student attempting his exam. I believe the reason why writers are different from non-writers, is that they are much more sensitive to the pain, the pleasure and other finer aspects of life.”
The jury for both Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award and Landmark Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award comprised Poet Ashok Vajyapee; Author Kiran Nagarkar, Senior journalist, Dileep Padgaonkar; Poet and Author, Arundhathi Subramaniam andFounder & Festival Director, Anil Dharker. [PR]
“These Awards are an endeavour to celebrate the written word by recognising and honouring outstanding literary minds who are either embarking on a literary career or have travelled the journey to success contributing greatly to the Indian literary space. We have introduced new awards this year, and are especially proud of the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award that honours literature in its highest form. The shortlist for the awards this year, were all, in their own right, outstanding and it was an extremely difficult task for the jury to select just one book out of an array of exceptional work by our Indian writers,” said Anil Dharker.
Dr. Mukund Rajan said, “The Tata group has always supported and encouraged art and culture. Our congratulations to the remarkable talent that has been recognized with the Tata LiteratureLive! Awards. A festival like this cannot be successful without the whole-hearted and enthusiastic participation of literary enthusiasts, and we are delighted that they have come in large numbers this year, to participate both in South Mumbai and the North Mumbai venue that we have introduced for the first time. We look forward to the festival going from strength to strength in the coming years.”
With over 120 writers, thinkers and performers from countries as diverse as England, the USA, Germany, Italy, Israel and Ireland taking centre stage at the festival, the TataLitLive came to an end.
Here are my overall thoughts on the #TataLiteratureLive Fest - It was a very well organised event, with such a massive programme schedule spanning four days at multiple venues. Hats off to the organizers as well as volunteers for pulling it off superbly. I noticed festival Director, Anil Dharker walking about the premises several times ( clicked a pic with him too ), ensuring that everything was going smooth, as well as the various crew members constantly on their toes; not to mention the who's who of literary, arts & media world from all corners of India and abroad making their presence felt ~ culminating it into a spectacular event truly a festival of the words and a festival of Bombay too! All sessions ( that I attended ), started in time and wrapped up in time too, which is great. The sessions were kept short, interesting and interactive by the panelists, that ensured none of us slept away mid-way. Although, after every session, everyone was ushered out to make room and prepare for the next, so we found ourselves making queues over and over in front of the same hall. The canteen kept feeding us umpteenth number of sandwiches and coffee; the crowd behaved well and everything was par-excellence :-)
I had a mind-boggling time. Catch you next year #TataLiteratureLive!