Mumbai, By Kabir Ali
The first edition of Lit O fest, a literature festival with a difference opened with a unique garland of ideas and experiences at the JJ School of Arts. Creative expression was at an all time high at the literature carnival that first time brought novice as well as veteran writers on one platform.
The festival was inaugurated by the celebrated erstwhile TV journalist, currently Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson, Ashutosh. He spoke at length on ‘Mukhote ki Raajneeti’ and shared valuable insights from his book on corruption in conversation with Quasar Khalid.
Keeping up the promise of thought invigorating sessions, the day opened with ‘Indian Literature – The Writing On The Wall!’, a session where who’s who of the literature fraternity deliberated upon the signs of coming change in the literary world. Hindi as a language was under spotlight with three panel discussions, ‘Hindi bhi hai trendy!’, and ‘Aao Hindi, Sapne Dekhein’ featuring diverse speakers. While the first session discussed how Hindi is no more limited to just text books, the second session brought out imbalance of opportunities for Hindi writers from publishers; and the third envisaged whether our mother tongue can help India progress in the changing world.
Concerns over the dwindling population of one of India’s most literary community, ‘Parasi’ were discussed in ‘Parasi- Going Extinct?’. The day was replete with other flavours of the writing world with sessions such as ‘Cook Book!’ on the scope of creativity in food writing, ‘Tale Me A Story!’ discussing what is the origin of mythological books and stories – theory or grandma stories, and an all women session ‘She Writes She!’ brought out how their life experiences influence their writings. There was also a session on ‘Dalit Literature’ addressed by legendary author and activist Prof. Avinash Dolas.
Since every trend, new, old and emerging, was being discussed, the session ‘Publish or Perish!’ too highlighted the changing norms of online vs. offline publishing and its technicalities. ‘Sahitya Aur Cinema’ brought out nuances of the confluence of literature and the film world.
The festival broke the conventions of literature festivals of the past and kept engagement levels soaring. Workshops such as ‘Hansi Gulzar Hai’ on Humour writing in Hindi by Shailesh Lodha, ’Music Speaks!’ on the journey of Indian Bollywood music by Salim-Suleiman, and ‘Wild & Woolly!’ by Deepak Dalal encouraging young adults to write about the birds and the beasts of India ensured literature lovers got more than their hands full of ideas and insights. A speech by Col Lalit Rai on ‘We Salute You!’ intrigued and inspired everyone with the told – untold stories of the ‘Indian Army’.
As the sun went down, authors, new and old were pre-ordained to meet publishers and discuss prospects of their writings. The action-packed day gave way to an Awards night where Lit-O-Fest Mumbai awarded four manuscripts of exhibiting authors with spot publishing deals by partners Jaico Publishers, Become Shakespeare.com, Vani Publications and Srishti Publishers. Self published and newly published exhibiting authors in fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry categories also bagged awards adjudged by the jury panel comprising Akash Shah, Head- Jaico Publishing House, Saurabh Daftary, Founder- Ebizz Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd., renowned poet Sunderchand Thakur, acclaimed film critic and journalist Ajay Brahmatmaj and Mehrab Irani as well as Anjali Kirpalani, both authors of bestsellers.
Remarking on the infectious energy at the Lit o Fest, Smita Parikh, spokesperson of Lit o Fest, shared, “We anticipated Lit o Fest’s first edition to receive unparalleled love and response, but the vibe here has far exceeding our expectations. We started out with a wish to make a difference to everyone who is associated with the literary world – authors, book lovers, poets, and cinema creators; established, and emerging alike and reach new heights. It feels great to see our vision coming true.”