The second day of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest saw the launch of Shobhaa De’s Never a Dull De by director Gauri Shide.
Both Shobha and Gauri stressed upon the need for more gender sensitivity in the country, while reading excerpt from the book, largely based on this issue. “We have a tradition in Marathi’s that we a boy is born the elder sister dips her hand in kumkum and puts on his back as an auspicious sign. When I was born, my elder sister in her innocence asked my grandmother if she should do the same for me.
My grandmother replied put cows dung on her back not kumkum and she cried so hard on the day I was born. My mother also cried looking at her and finally my father put a stop to this by holding me in his arms and saying he is proud to have a third daughter in the family,” reminisced Shobha.
The day saw a host of book launches, interesting workshops and sessions. Literature enthusiasts had a lot to talk and be happy about by the end of it.
The day saw the launch of the much spoken about Naresh Fernandes’ memoir of his beloved city Mumbai, ‘A City Adrift’. The launch was followed by a discussion with the author, Ajit Ranade, Charles Correa and Simpreet Singh, chaired by Mustansir Dalvi. The discussion gave an interesting perspective on Mumbai, its inhabitants and the unique culture that is held within its limits.
Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code by Vikram Chandra was also launched. A discussion was conducted later with Ananya Vajpeyi, Farrukh Dhondy and Vikram Chandra, chaired by Dilip D’Souza. The discussion traced the fascinating connection between the seemingly different yet similar worlds of Literature and computer coding. The talk revolved around literature, science and sanskrit as a language that has not changed for the last 25 years, and expanded to include an explanation of theory of relativity by Dilip D’ Souza.
Two books on the legendary writer Rabindranath Tagore were launched together today at the festival. Sugata Bose’s Tagore: The World Voyager and Sudhir Kakar’s Young Tagore: The Makings of a Genius brought the inner and outer worlds of Tagore to the audiences. The launch was followed by a discussion with the authors chaired by Ananya Vajpeyi, where the life of the celebrated artist Tagore was reconstructed and a glimpse into the psyche of this Literary Hero was presented.
Launch of Evald Flisar’s ‘On the Gold Coast’, followed by a discussion with Amitava Kumar, Dr Sunandan Roy Chowdhury and chaired by Kishwar Desai was quite heartening and fascinating as well.
Asian Identities beyond the Global Novel: A Masterclass on writing fiction that is truly Asian by Tash Aw was a learning experience. The interactive session addressed many issues that writers face when writing for a global audience but still being true to their roots. His exercise where one wrote about the first home one lived in as a child and the one they are living in now provided insights into how fiction ans fantasy come together when we look at our past, how one needs to create a balance of it and manipulate, imagine and be real about it all in one go.
Basharat Peer, Shifra Horn, Tavleen Singh shared their experiences of writing from a conflict zone. The session ‘A war of words: Writing in a conflict zone’, chaired by Dilip D’Souza gave the audience a taste of what it feels like when you are writing about stories from sensitive areas and things that one should be mindful off when dealing with such places and situations. The political pressure a journalist feels, the Kashmir issue, the failure of UPA government and a hope that Kashmiri Pandits will one return home were some of the hot topics in this discussion.
Nosedive: The story of how Air India went into a Tailspin was another session that held its audience in rapt attention. With Anil Dharker asking questions like “Would you say Praful Patel was the worst thing that ever happened to Air India,” and Jitendra Bhargava, author of the book ‘The story of how Air India went into a Tailspin’, replied “Well politicians before him were as bad for the company. He just did more damage to it the most”. The candid discussion spoke about the beaurocracy of a government institution and the politics played by those in power.
Current politics and state of our democracy was discussed at ‘The Making of Modi: Myth or Magic,’ by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Pavan Varma, Tavleen Singh, chaired by Ankita Mukherji. A masterclass on historical biographies took us back in time and resurrected an era gone by and personalities which were nothing more than names earlier.