We used to be a nation of pujas, visarjans, and sale dhamakas during Dusshera and Diwali earlier but the definition of fests seems to have changed. There are now a different set of fests all around and all over the country… just as common as conclaves are for publications and writing workshops are on the social media. Everyone I know is ‘writing’ or is attending a literary fest and sometimes doing both. We are poised to watch our literary fests becoming powerful enough to take on the conventional fests or festivals head-on.
‘What about the CEOs in your Facebook list of friends?’
‘Ah! I had almost forgotten this breed, but they are commoner than wrens today. Pigeons still outnumber them though.’
But coming back to fests let me say that it is getting more and more difficult to think of a fest that is different and not the kind of fest that fests are supposed to be. You know fests where people jostle with each other simply to click a selfie with an author who is anyway trying to click a selfie with another better known writer. Or just sit and listen to some discussion without understanding a bit because the ambient noise has effectively drowned all the finer nuances of expression… and then wait for the next day’s paper or a blog post to learn what was actually discussed. These are the fests that I’m sure even the organisers avoid and do their shopping as session after session of panel discussions meanders between book signings and mild lathi-charges to control the effervescent crowd. I have a mild feeling that most who reach these lit-fests are the sorts who will not be able to differentiate a rhyme from a mime.
It is now time for a #TalkFest to enter
Let me begin by asking: What do Indians do best – write or talk?
Well, then a #TalkFest makes sense, doesn’t it?
And the Talk fest that I am talking about is a new platform for talks, lectures, debates and discussions around the theme of literature and art and it will only be right to call it the Readomania #TalkFest. As Dipankar puts it, ‘The objective is to bring in new ideas and different perspectives on literature, art, reading and writing and in the process encourage interest in the subjects, in books and in reading.’
Sounds familiar, but the dissimilarity is that they don’t plan to crowd a day with multiple sessions making the real connoisseur of words pull his/ her hair in sheer frustration because deciding on what is better than the best is always a task full of indecisions. Readomania has announced that their TalkFest will be held in the first week of every alternate month starting from November at India Habitat Centre… and the first in this series is on November 4, 2015, 7 PM at Gulmohar Hall. The speaker is going to be Mr. Avirook Sen, journalist and author of Aarushi who will be speaking on Journalism and the Art of Creative writing.
Readomania describes itself as ‘a literary brand with interests in e-library for fiction and poetry, publishing – digital and print, literary products and events. Readomania’s online avatar has a membership of 10000+ literary enthusiasts and boasts of a collection of 2000 e-publications that are freely available to readers. The publication division is five books old with ten more in the pipeline in this financial year.’
Now then, will this #TalkFest be infested with mild lathi-charges to keep the tempers under control? Will the speaker be able to hold the audience spell-bound? Will the audience have enough peace to be able to listen to and grasp the finer nuances of the art of creative writing? I do not have any answers to any of these queries right now…
It is only once I have attended the #TalkFest that I can tell you if the time spent there was like a journey into literature and art or just a day spent pretending to be happy amongst those think they can write well. I must inform you that Readomania does claim that their #TalkFest sessions aim to be one or more of these:
- A philosophical perspective on literature and art
- A historical journey of literature and art
- A modern approach to literature and art
- A perspective on the art of creativity and innovation
Talking of fests, isn’t it time that we redefined them as something unrelated to a boisterous coming together of an uninhibited display of your wealth… or erudition… or arrogance… or all of them in an unhealthy alliance? There is a need to encourage an interest in reading, in books, in literature, and in the subtle art of writing well. If the Readomania #TalkFest does this, I’ll be happy. The season of fests needs a reason too.
05 October 2015