Sunday, 19 October 2014

Litomania – My Experience, Day 2

Amongst the most anticipated and probably one of the most houseful events of the entire fest was ‘Do happy people make great humour writers?’
While the anchor tried to bestow comic authors with compliments before calling them on stage, her mic ran into some technical error. In the middle of recounting his achievements and testing our patience, Vikram Sathaye barked from the front row, ‘Just call me on stage yaar’.
     And that invited the first howl of laughter from us.
The discussion and arguments sent roars of laughter through the crowd every five seconds with Sorabh Pant ‘disagreeing’ with whatever others said and providing humorous yet extremely insightful answers.
houseful, comical, total fun
The pretty girl who’s witty in her writings but admittedly not so much in real life, Parul Sharma and the round Rishi Piparaiya who gets a ‘chunk of days’ in a year when he’s ‘most witty’ so he can churn out a humorous book invited applause for their views on the topics too.
The discussion met the same fate like most other discussions do. With ‘no conclusion’, according to Vikram.
One of the situational jokes I’ll take home with me— a pilot saying to himself, ‘Oh clouds. Oh, more clouds. Oh my life sucks, more clouds.’ And after a swing of hoots and heartbeat of silence, ‘Oh WTO’. – by Sourabh Pant, amongst all his other spontaneous puns.

Another event included book launch of Ramayana- the rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas Das.
For the first five minutes Vilas Das narrated Hanuman’s flight to save Seeta and the hurdles He faced in doing so. Vilas Das weaved life lessons into it and i was amazed at his interpretations.
Not a huge fan of mythology, I surprisingly enjoyed the session and the two following this—

1.     ‘Does mythology need a twist’ and
2.    Book preview of ‘Ajaya- Rise of Kali’

‘Does mythology need a twist’ was led by mostly silent and invisible Christopher Doyle, prudent and kind Shubha Vilas Das, funniest and cutest writer with a typical South Indian accent Anand Neelakantan.
Meghna Pant moderated the discussion, accepting and asking questions on our behalf.
Christopher, Vilas Das, Megha, Ravi
Anand Neelakantan, the adored and popular writer of ‘Asura- the tale of vanquished’ previewed his latest, third book ‘Ajaya-the rise of Kali’.
What connected him to us was his modesty, simplicity and his lack of inhibitions to pull a joke on himself.
He  writes books because he questions everything. He says he's a common man and no scholar to rewrite Ramayana. ‘Even my mother won’t believe if you tell her I’m a scholar,’ he jokes.
But he dares to question and ventures to write what he feels. His first book gives the flip side of Ramayana, portraying Raavana as the protagonist. And he was thankful he  hasn't received any death threats for it yet, much to Meghna’s surprise.
All in all, I loved his casual, laid back stage presence, pleasant personality and his deep knowledge on these popular Indian writings of Ramayana and Mahabharata referred to by Vilas Das as ‘ithihaas’ or histories, as opposed to what British called it ‘mythology’.

After this session, we headed to the lighter side of fiction. Romance.
The topic discussed by moderator and writer Shoma Narayana; a soft spoken woman with a timid voice Leena Varghese, honest and funny Sudeep Nagarkar and Sachin Garg was ‘Are Romance Novels just a happy bubble? Does reality often burst it?’
A girl in the audience came up with an interesting solution to the discussion. Instead of marking romance genre as a ‘happy bubble’ far from reality, we can actually read and learn from it to be better lovers. And since the story is a part of the author and has elements the author has been through, they’re as much real.
Sudeep opined, ‘men are more romantic, they just don’t show it that often. And are neither daring enough to agree to it’. With a few smiles, the male audience seemed to agree.

After the session I met with Leena Varghese, the debut author of ‘A perfect mismatch’. I owned her book and asked if she could sign it for me.

Kind enough to sit down and have a chat, she did and wrote across the first page ‘to my first fan’.
We talked for about five minutes and I couldn’t be happier getting into the lift with all these amazing people.

Because of time constraints I couldn’t attend my most anticipated session where one of my favourite Indian authors Preeti Sheenoy along with Ravinder Singh and Madhuri Banerjee would discuss the ‘shades of love’.

Some of the events also included a musical evening with Swanand Kirkire, Shantanu Moitra and Vikram Sathaye. A masterclass by Priya Kumar – Follow your dreams and book preview of Daddy by Tuhin Sinha amongst others.

One of the stalls sold TTT t-shirts, post cards and other stuff at the desk. TTT or Terribly Tiny Tales are shortest tales told in about two or three sentences that blow your mind off. They’re trending wildly on Facebook lately. Wanting to help them as a regular reader of TTT, I bought three post cards.

Every reader went home with an eco-friendly bag containing a tiny notepad, a cute pen and a bookmark.

All in all, I hoped the fest was on for more days and I wished some of the events did not overlap. But suffice to say, this first attempt was a grand success. Thank you to the team for bringing a literary celebration to our doorsteps. :)
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Litomania – My Experience, Day 1

I’d always been a fan of litfest which is an event where authors and readers stand on the same ground and talk about the common thread that bonds them, books. We have a few famous lit fests in India like TATA lit fest that takes place in Mumbai and JLF in Jaipur every year. But now we can add Litomania to the list.

Litomania was a two day literature festival held at one of the plush B schools of Mumbai Welingkers Institude of Management, 2014 being its first year. The event was grand and generous.
On the first day Sangram Surve, brain behind this fest, introduced us to the festival in a majestic auditorium packed with people.
The hall was later addressed by confident and shrewd articulator Amish Tripathi, intellectual and wise Ravi Subramanian, subtle and kind Ravinder Singh and cute and witty Ashwin Sanghai.
They contemplated on ‘what is India reading’ and concluded with what Indians most relate to.

As soon as the session ended we headed to the quiet room of Nirvana. Four chairs for four pretty ladies— upfront, honest and sweet Madhura Banerjee; the quiet woman who exuded power, simplicity, intelligence and wisdom all with her husky voice, Amrita Chowdhury; and the strong willed woman who dared, adorning a beautiful white saree, Bhaavna Arora— sat at the panel to discuss ‘Is India exploring the fifty shades’.
They talked about struggles they faced with writing bold books and talked openly about sexuality amongst other things.
Rachel Lopez from HT, a young, vibrant woman who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind moderated and tossed questions around for everyone.
All four of them were an epitome of strong, independent women of 21st century and at one point I almost longed to be like one of them.

One of the most anticipated events of that day was master class by Ravi Subramanian on ‘How to write a book and get it published’.
Though it was an ‘invites only’ event, people without invites were allowed to sit in.
Ravi started off with asking the roomful of aspiring authors, ardent readers and dreamers why they wanted to write. All those who raised their hands ‘for money’ chucked the notion by the end of the session.
Someone asked him ‘how can one market a book? What was the technique that he used?’
Ravi sipped a glass of water and said, ‘I’ll give you my example.' When he wrote his first book ‘If God was a banker’ the first review he got in a newspaper said ‘don’t bank on this book’. One old lady approached him at one of his book signings and said, ‘you know, there’s a grammatical error in the title of your book. It should be if God were a banker.' One of the first online reviews he read said, ‘Ravi did what no one else has ever ventured to do. He wrote a book worse than Chetan Bhagat.’
    People shook their heads, and when the room fell silent again he explained, much with a sad voice, ‘But fortunately or unfortunately, that was what worked for me. Negative reviews created hype for the book. So don't be disheartened. Just keep writing.'

Amongst other events that ran in adjacent rooms were—
1.     The search of desi Harry Potter by Preeti Vyas, Payal Kapadia, Anusha Subramanian
2.    ‘India’s obsession with gastronomy’ by Sanjeev Kapoor,
3.    A stand-up comedy Act by Sorabh Pant,
4.    Shaping the future of corporate and B-school and
5.    When writing mythology, does the writing change the writer led by Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Shanghai.
old prized collection of authors present at the fest
I have never been to a true lit fest or been around other scattered book lovers who are not simply interested in the story, but also in the art of storytelling. How the characters come to life and breathe through the pages. How story tellers create a parallel world for us.
I enjoyed strolling through the floors, mesmerized and dazed, taking in the vibe, browsing through stacks of books and seeing authors live. My only regret probably was not participating in any of those amazing contests they held and getting to choose from those towering piles books. But apart from that, it was worth bunking college for.

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