Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Pune International Literary Festival - Fine Experience

Attended the 5th edition of the Pune International Literary Festival held at Yashada, Pune form the 8th-10th of September. I was originally to be on a cricket writing panel with the highly energetic and enthusiastic Sfurthi Sahare (Think and Win like Dhoni) on a panel called 'Cricket on My Mind' (moderated by Dipankar Mukherjee). but was then roped into a Jaico authors panel on 'Fact or Fiction' moderated by Vasudev Murthy and comprising of the incomparable Shatrujeet Nath, a very gracious and charming Ankita Verma Dutta and the debonair and intense young director of the popular TV series 'Inside Edge' Karan Anshuman. Both went well.
Fact or Fiction - Me, Ankita (hidden), Vasudev Murthy, Shatrujeet Nath and Karan Anshuman
Day 1 began with the inauguration by Chief Guest Ustad Amjad Ali Khan followed by a sharing of their stories by Javed Akhthar and Shabana Azmi (full house so missed both). Then the programs started at four different venues - the main auditorium, two session halls and an open Book Nook. I attended Keerti's session with Rakshanda Jalil on the writings of Ishmat Chightai and loved it. Keeri really loves and knows her craft and it comes across so clearly.

Day 2 began with another session on the fine art of translation by Daniel Hahn, Keerti Ramachandra and Rakshanda Jalil which was moderated by Prashasti Rastogi and once again it was a fine session with deep insights into the world of translation. There was a session by Sagarika Ghose on her book 'Indira; India's Most Powerful Prime Minister' which I missed. Dr. Mohan Agashe was in several sessions and actress Divya Dutta was in conversation regarding her new book 'Me and Ma'. I wanted to see the stand up comedy by Rachan Singh the humour writer but then Yogesh came and took me for a lovely lunch at the PYC Gymkhana.

Post Lunch Vasu (Vasudev Murthy), a very interesting person and our moderator for the panel discussion on 'Fcat or Fiction' launched his book 'Sherlock in Timbuctu'. A high profile session with Sagarika Ghose, Anu Aga and Nemichandra on 'I am what I am' on women empowerment followed by our session on 'Fact or Fiction'. We discussed whether there is a method to writing fiction, how mush research is involved, the process of getting published and I spoke about the genre of cricket fiction. Couple of questions about how possessive we are about our works when they get made into movies. It was interesting to hear the views of Vasudev, Shatrujeet, Ankita and Karan on the subject. It was well received and Shatrujeet made it very lively with his sense of comic timing and high energy as also some fine moderating by Vasu. Our session was followed by a panel on 'Vpoice of Women in Movies' which had Pooja Bhatt, Divya Dutta, Kirti Kulhar (of Pink fame) and Ashwini Iyer Tiwari (of Neel Battee Sannata and Bareilly to Barfi fame). I was keen to listen to Ashwini and she spoke much sense in the time she got because the entire session was hijacked by Pooja Bhatt (who was entertaining and loud mostly) and the rather boring monologue by Kirti. Badly moderated or rather no moderation. We quickly joined a small audience who gathered to hear a talk 'Writers under threat' moderated by Jayant Kripalani with Manjula and Sreemoyee.
Cricket on My Mind - Me, Dipankar Mukherjee and Sfurthi Sahare
On Day 3 I skipped most morning sessions and joined after lunch to see Keerti in conversation with Daniel Hahn again on translation and it was once again a fine session. It should have been for an hour.  There was a Kavi Sammelan and then my session with Sfurthi Sahare on 'Cricket on My Mind'. Since there was Ekta Kapoor on another panel at the same time and another high profile panel that included Sachin Khedekar, Kinjal Goyal, Dr. Mohan Agashe and Deeksha Kalyani on "No Kidding" we did not anticipate much crowd. But the session was well moderated by Dipankar Mukherjee and Sfurthi bowled everyone over with her confidence and her energy and passion. She told the story of how she was impressed by MSD's mindset and then travelled to meet Sourav Ganguly and then MSD himself and many of his pals and family before writing her book on 'Think and Win like Dhoni'. SI shared the process of writing cricket fiction and cricket non-fiction, the challenges and the aspects of leadership, team building etc as I saw them. The festival wound up with a session on the Hit Girls with Asha Parekh that was moderated by Khalid Mohamed.

I met several new writers and people on this journey. Sfurthi, Vasu, Shatrujeet, Ankita, Karan, Dipankar, Mina Rao, Sudha, Amrutha, Neeti, Varsha, Siddarth, Roswitha, Kulpreet, Koral, Daniel, Rakshanda Jalil, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, Manjula and I am surely missing a couple. Path, Maria, Raja, Milind and Medha came to support me and to participate. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and so did everyone else. It was fun hanging out with the Jaico team - Sonal, Reena, Akash and the rest.

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