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Bangalore Literature Festival

The Faculty members, Research Scholars, and Master’s students from the Department of English, Faculty of Languages visited the Bangalore Literature Festival, Bangalore, as part of a literary tour for the academic year 2023. The festival was scheduled for two days that is on 2nd December 2023, Saturday, and 3rd December 2023, Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00pm on both the days at a five star hotel called the Lalit Ashok.

Day 1

On day 1, the students and faculty members attended the session titled “The Magicians of Mazda” Ashwin Sanghi with Poulomi Chatterjee at 11:15am. Ashwin Sanghi is a writer who specializes in Historical Fiction and has written a series of compelling novels on the illustrious kings of the Mauryan Empire and others. The session was informative and students learnt about the writer’s process of writing fiction. The session was arranged at “Lawns”.

The second session was an interesting one. It was organized at Poolside. It was titled “Common Yet Uncommon: Stories from Daily Life”. Children’s writer Sudha Murty was in conversation with Milee Ashwarya at 11:45am. It was a promotional event for her new book, a collection of short stories based on characters drawn from real life. The session attracted large number of crowds and was punctuated with humour and anecdotes from the author’s life. The session concluded with a questions and answer segment.

The third event attended was a poetry reading session titled “Meter and Magic: Poetry Readings” by renowned poets Amir Or, Anupama Raju, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Mamta Sagar, Mani Rao, Ranjit Hoskote and Ruth Padel at 12:30pm. The poems recited included subjects such as war, household duties, familial relationships, and even featured poetry in Kannada and Sanskrit taken from the Mahabharata. The poets delivered a spectacular performance. The event was intellectually stimulating and introduced students to some of the greatest contemporary poets writing in India and abroad. The students got a chance to engage with poetry. The session took place at “Lawns”.

The next event of the day was Big Stories of Small Towns” held at 2:30 p.m., near the poolside of the hotel. Abdullah Khan, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Malathi Ramachandran, Sajita Nair were the writers who engaged the literature lovers with their interactive conversation with the host, GJV Prasad. The writers were of the view that even a small-town writer carries a lot of potential to create big stories. The session was held with the intention to inspire young minds who belong to small towns to make history and achieve remarkable success.

The most popular event of the day was the one which featured a book launch by well-known Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi who released her book titled Zeba. The book launch was followed by a conversation titled “From Monica to Zeba: Reel to Writing” featuring Huma Qureshi with Sidharth Jain at 5:00pm. The famous actress talked about her foray into book writing and spoke about the evolution of the book. She said that her acting helped her into imagining the lives of her characters. She read parts of her books to the audience. She also mentioned that the books had already been selected to be turned into a film.

Day 2

The second day began with an interview titled “Icelight: Poetry From the Edge of Epiphany” which featured a conversation between Ranjit Hoskote, the poet with Anupama Raju” at11:30am. The session included readings from the collection of poetry by Ranjit Hoskote and featured lively discussions on diverse themes like climate change, the role of poets in it. The duration of the session was half an hour and took place at “Blue Couch” located at the entrance of the hotel.

The second session for the day was an interview that featured famous literary novelist Anita Nair who was in conversation with a Swedish novelist Zac O’Yeah. The Session was titled “Hot Stage: Inspector Gowda Returns”at 12:15pm. Anita Nair spoke about her intention to write a crime thriller in opposition to the literary novels she has written earlier. She mentioned that the new novel Inspector Gowda Returns explores the underbelly of Bangalore and her character’s conviction about the culprit which was at odds with the popular belief and the character’s determination to prove himself right. The session featured discussions and question and answer session with the audience. The faculty members also got the opportunity to click pictures with the author. The session was especially a beneficial one because one of the Research Scholars Mainuddin Nalwadi has chosen Anita Nair’s novels for his PhD thesis. The Research Scholar found the opportunity to discuss important aspects of his Research with the author.

Mohammed Shujauddin Safi attended a session titled Caste Among Indian Muslims Muzaffar Assadi with Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed at 12:30pm. The takeaway from the session included an understanding of caste among Muslims and the role it has played throughout the long history of Muslim condition. The writer was of the opinion that Muslims should assert their caste identities to derive political and social benefits in terms of reservation granted to other members of caste in Hindu society.

The next session held at 12:45 p.m. at the Lawn featured the writers, Anjum Hasan and Devika Rege. The session titled “Facts in Fiction: Novels Navigating New India” was attended by Dr. Athiya Sultana, Ms. Zainab and students. Anjum Hasan as a North-Eastern writer living in Bengaluru explored on the lives of people who have migrated from their native places to earn livelihood. She finds city as a strange place yet it inspires her to write and blend facts into fiction. Another writer, Devika Rege opines that novel is the way to express the truth (particularly political truth) of the society.

Mirch Masala: On the Indian Food Trail was the next session attended by Dr. Athiya Sultana, Ms. Zainab and students. Sadaf Hussain, Tarana Husain Khan, Zac O'Yeah were the eminent personalities who graced the event with their interactive conversation with Krish Ashok at 1:15 p.m. at the Lawn. This session highlighted the diversity of Indian cuisine and how it has become a medium to connect different people of India. Next session was featured by Chandrashekhar Kambar, a poet, playwright, folklorist and the President of the Sahitya Akademi. “Listen, I will Tell You” was the name of the session held at 2:45 p.m. in which he pointed out the significance of criticism of literary works.

This was followed by another interesting session titled “Raw Umber: A Memoir” that featured Sara Rai with Urvashi Butalia at 1:30pm. The session was supposed to be moderated by Rakhshanda Jalil but was replaced by Urvashi Butalia. She was in conversation with Sara Rai who is the granddaughter of Premchand, a renowned Hindi writer. She spoke about her new book which is a memoir on her father. She recollected her childhood which was heavily influenced by Urdu Culture and her familiarity with Urdu ghazals. She also highlighted the difficulties of choosing between Hindi and English as a medium of expression for those who grew up speaking both. The session took place at ‘Blue Couch’.

The fourth session titled “Silent Spring: Thinking about Climate Change in Poetry” was attended by Mohammed Shujauddin Safi, Asst. Professor, at 2:15pm. Ranjit Hoskote, contemporary Indian poet was in conversation with British poet Ruth Padel. Both of them talked about the need to engage deeply with the issue of climate change and highlights the significance of poetry and the role of poets in bringing about an emotional engagement with the geopolitical and social responsibility in dealing with climate change. The session featured poetry readings from both the poets. The session was organized at ‘Tennis Court’.

The session at 4:30pm was entitled “Jainism: Feasting with Gods, Fasting with Monks” featuring Devdutt Pattanaik, a renowned writer on mythology with Krish Ashok. The session was one of the most popular events and managed to attract a huge crowd. The author discussed various traditions and rituals of the Jain monks and important tenets of Jainism which lays much importance on Fasting. He traced many food myths and delved deep into Indian mythology which forms basis of many eating practices in India.

The previous event was followed by another session entitled “The Tharoor Confabulate” which featured conversations between Shashi Tharoor with Smita Tharoor at 5:45pm. They talked about their childhood experiences and their early exposure to language through their father who happened to be a language enthusiast. The session attracted a huge crowd.

The following session featured lively conversations between Arundhathi Subramanian, a poet and biographer and Sharda Ugra at 6:15pmtitled “Women Who Wear Only Themselves”. The session featured discussions about the book with same name. The author Arundhathi spoke about the dearth of women saints and philosophers. Her new book, she told tried to fill the gap. The book beings together seven different women saints and philosophers who have been inspirational. The session took place at ‘Tennis Court’.

The last session for day 2 was attended by Mohammed Shujauddin Safi. It was a session titled “Taxi: A Delhi Novel” at 6:30pm. Manjula Padmanabhan, a playwright, novelist, science fiction writer based in America was in conversation with her editor Anupama Manral. Manjula gave a short reading from her new novel Taxi. Manjula spoke about her experiments with fiction and the process of book publishing. The session

The two-day literary tour was immensely beneficial for the students. It offered them the opportunity to meet some of the authors they read in their syllabus and to engage actively with the texts. They were inspired by literary environment that would increase their awareness of the literary world and contribute to their intellectual growth.



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