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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Of Literature and Folktales: Tata Literature Live

I'm such a writer, Thought I, to myself,
And then, I felt like an elf,
When people like Malika Booker and Chetan Bhagat I saw,
I couldn't help but gape at them in awe.

Yes, I was at the Tata Lit Fest held every year at the sprawling galleries of Bombay's NCPA. This year there was an added venue of Prithvi Theatre with added sessions and performances. For someone passionate about literature, where to go was a difficult choice. NCPA, I decided. It started off with attending a workshop titled Writing a Killer Thriller and no it wasn't interesting. However, it could be a personal choice because I was dragged here by Sonia Rao, a lady I met at Churchgate station who was also headed to the fest. I moved out midway to "The World according to Chetan". Yes, I belong to the CB club and this isn't the right place to explain why I choose him after reading Coehlo, Arundhati Roy, Rushdie, Arthur Conan Doyle and the likes. So, I'll skip; but it was an interesting session between Anuradha Sen Gupta and Chetan Bhagat wherein Bhagat showed his true personality.

Next in line was Malika Booker's workshop From Composition to Performance and the lady had so much energy that it was heart rending. As eager as I was on attending the Katha Gayan, I had to rush home owing to an emergency.

Day 2, the start was bang on. If I wasn't feeling like an elf already, Kavitha Rao, "The" freelance journalist made sure I did so now. Her session was superb. I am still in an ethical dilemma of whether to call myself a freelance journalist or not, thanks to her session. None the less, the lady was a powerhouse. Post that was a kid's workshop on planning a plot and so, I gave it a skip, looked around a bit. Cyrus Brocha, not interested. Some session on Eastern and Western traditions clashing in literature, not interested. Decided to check out the book swap. What's book swap?

Well, you get as many books as you like and exchange them for the same number of books. How cool no? If for nothing else, you could come to the lit fest just for this.

Of course, I couldn't find the location in a go in spite of the map and I'll refrain from mentioning clueless volunteers here.. oh oops! Well, so, since I couldn't find the place and there was nothing interesting going on, I went back to the kid's workshop and boy! the kids are smart. Real smart! I wouldn't have thought of those plot ideas that they cleverly came up with even after thinking for eons. Plus, I had a refresher on the basics of writing a novel at the workshop and so it wasn't a waste.

This time I was determined to find the book swap location and I asked the anchor. Finally, I was in there and the volunteer here was very sweet, helping and nice. Full marks to him for doing his job correctly. I brought 9 books.

A relaxed tete-a-tete with Akansha Banerjee, fellow journalist and writer found me a new friend and hopefully, a mentor. We attended a session on food literature wherein I learnt there is more to food than just eating and cooking. This is an area I'll surely explore into. Laila Wadia and Samar Halarnkar actually opened an all new world to the foodies Off the Menu.

And no there was no emergency today and I was surely not missing the Katha Gayan. I love them. A Katha Gayan is a performance where in one person, sings, dances, dialogues for all characters and also plays the musical instrument all by themselves. The Pandvaani by Ritu Verma wasn't as mesmerising as many others that I have seen but it was not all that bad either. Considering it takes a lot of hard work to do something like that and it isn't everyone's forte, full marks to her.

Plays, poems and folktales,
Book Swaps and not Book Sales,
My day was made,
Tata lit fest; Enough said!

Awards won at the Fest -

Landmark Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award
M T Vasudevan Nair, legendary Malayalam Author, Scriptwriter and Film Director
Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award
Joy Goswami, the prolific Bengali poet
Tata Literature Live! First Book Award
Fiction: Mahesh Rao for The Smoke Is Rising
Non-Fiction: T M Krishna for A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story
Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Award
Fiction: Damon Galgut for Arctic Summer
Non-Fiction: Rana Dasgupta for  Capital - The Eruption Of Delhi
Tata Literature Live! Business Book of the Year Award
Rajiv Narang and Devika Devaiah for Orbit-Shifting Innovation: The Dynamics of Ideas that Create History

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