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Delhi Literature Festival by Abhishek Talreja

fnbworld exclusive. A roundup: Delhi Literature Festival - Feb. 2014



Abhishek Talreja-fnbworld  By Abhishek Talreja

Sometimes the breeze tells you many stories in a single breath and touches you literally everywhere. I experienced this the last weekend and I’m sure whoever was at Indira Gandhi Center for the Art (IGCA), New Delhi felt the same way. I simply had a gala time at the 2nd Delhi Literature Festival. The 3 day fest started on the 7th February.

Barkha Dutt grilling Arvind Kejriwal-fnbworld

All photos/video copyright: Right Impact Media Inc.

It started with a tribute to Rajendra Yadav, the most well-known writer in Hindi language and the pioneer of the Nayi Kahani Movement. Dr. Nirmala Jain, a renowned critic, Ajit Kr. Chaudhary, writer in Hindi and Rachna Yadav, daughter of Rajendra Yadav and MD, Hans Publications touched upon the issues being faced by Hindi as a language and its literature in the contemporary times while going down the memory lane.  

‘This year we tried to include many different themes associated with literature and also international participation like Brazil and Iran. We saw participation of people from various age groups. This year we also moved to two venues to increase the number of sessions. And next year we’ll take it a step forward in terms of both quality and quantity of sessions and try to include children’s literature, regional literature and several other pressing issues faced by the literary world’ said Ms. #Supriya Suri, the Festival Director.

The festival was inaugurated by Dr. #Karan Singh, President #ICCR in the presence of H.E. Bernhard Curabetz, the Ambassador of Austria, Hamsa Moily, the poet and Dr T. Meinya, Member of Parliament from North East. ‘The Mahabharata’s Secrets’ written by Christopher C Doyle and published by Om Book International was also launched by the dignitaries present.

The second day of the festival started with the Civil Servants of India discussing their various ventures into creativity and writing followed by a session by Iranian artists sharing the history and art forms involved in Persian Publishing. Illumination, Decoration and Calligraphy - the 3 most important elements of Persian Publishing found great interest in the audience as they poured questions of all kinds on the artists.

Holy Smoke - Kashyap-Vistasta-fnbworld

Saturday also saw participation of literary critics like Rakhshanda Jalil and Prof. Harish Narang, a dramatic reading of an unpublished novel, Mutilator by Prajna Desai, a session to discuss the Indian politics by Tabrik C and participation of Ambassadors of various countries like Brazil, Spain and Sri Lanka to discuss the works of Ms. Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt, author of Delhi’s Diplomatic Domains.


Mr. #Somnath Bharti , Minister of Law, Tourism, Art & Culture and Administrative Reforms, Govt. of Delhi was also present to launch the book ‘The Holy Smoke, it’s a GODMAN’ written by #Satish G. Kashyap and published by #Vitasta Publishing.



The Amphitheatre witnessed sessions on an array of topics like Graphic Novels - the Literature of 21st Century, the entrepreneurial journeys in the literary world and a tête-à-tête between publishers, authors and their agents to explore and understand the pressing issues faced by all of them today. The day ended with a live music band performance by Mrigya, which plays a fusion of Blues, Folk, Funk, Latin, Rock and Jazz along with Indian classical music.

The third day began with a session ‘In conversation with Dr. Kusum Ansal’, a prolific writer. Bernardo Carvalho, a novelist, a playwright and a journalist discussed the contemporary Brazilian Literature followed by dramatic reading of Manto’s Satire by #Raza Naeem from Pakistan. ‘Sex & the City: Erotica in Literature’ saw popularity amongst an audience of various age groups.

Panel on New Media-(L-R) Sreemoi Kundu, Darpan Majumdar, Ravi V. Chhabra-fnbworld


This was followed by an enlightening session on Literature in the Digital age and on the panel were Mr. #Ravi V. Chhabra, a seasoned print and online journalist and Managing Editor at - a webzine, profile at: and Ms #Shreemoyee Piu Kundu, the author of # ‘Faraway Music’ and #‘Sita’s Curse’. The discussion started with how in today’s digital age many creative works are being published online and marketed online. Although the romance of reading the hard copy of a book rather than an ebook is still there and prevalent across book lovers, the debate brought out the comfort that youngsters find in reading on smart phones and tablets. The discussion brought out how one can find so much to read online and the kind of dynamism that both authors and readers are faced with. 



Excerpts from what Mr. Ravi V. Chhabra said:

‘You can decide about the reputation you want to have and it can all be done online. Paper will die gradually and it’s not surprising that there is no print media today in a country like Brazil. facebook is like a mini office in today’s times and we will see a lot of more innovations in the way we see and consume stuff that we read. It may be structured or unstructured but it will be very useful in a lot of ways to the readers.

The art stays relevant and so does its marketing and more so in the times to come. The best part is that as an artist you can market yourself that too in the way you want to. You can be your own boss and head all departments be -  it creating content, designing, ideation or marketing on social media. The e-way is the only way forward. Its time to face the challenge...

Excerpts from what Ms Shreemoyee Piu Kundu said:

I feel books are a sensory experience intimately related to physical memories and they have a nostalgic value that never diminishes - like an heirloom that you pass down from one generation to the next. While digitalization is the future and we must adapt to a changing world order that prioritizes convenience, one can never forget or forgo of the past - book stores, libraries, book clubs and the sheer human connect they stand for is to me something that must and will endure. Also, I feel as writers while we are now all slowly embracing the e-book version and creating micro sites for ourselves and our novels - a line must be maintained.


To me books are not just about the commerce and like I said an author is an artist. So I will not paint a picture everyone wants to see. I will paint a picture I want to see, and hope you find a piece of your soul in it. Yes, today authors need marketing tools and to take cognizance of social media apps and their likes, but if we end up commercializing art... there will be no beauty quality as we are seeing happen to Indian fiction, crowded with 'bestseller' titles that actually will not even be remembered 10 years later. What's all the brand building and big bucks worth then? 

The festival paid its second tribute to Safdar Hashmi through a reading of his play ‘Aurat’ followed by a session discussing the art of playwriting and its changing face by playwrights and critics like Mohan Maharshi, Diwan Singh Bajeli, #Bernardo Carvalho among others. Recent Padma Shri awardee, Ashok #Chakradhar, renowned poet in Malayalam and English, K. Satchidanandan, Punjabi poet Dr. Vanita and Dr. #Bina Biswas discussed the craft of poetry and the shifting contours of its form today. Sundayalso saw play performances by Pierrots Troupe and #Jana Natya Manch.

#Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi and Magsaysay Awardee participated in the last session of the 2nd Delhi Literature Festival as he spoke about his book ‘Swaraj: Power to the People’ with #Barkha Dutt, Group Editor, #NDTV.


[Abhishek Talreja is a vegetarian food blogger].


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