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Urdu festival Jashn-e-Rekhta begins in Delhi

By Supriya Sharma

In the season of spring and literary festivals, this perhaps is the sweetest offering and the biggest of its kind. The third edition of Urdu festival Jashn-e-Rekhta (JeR) opened this Friday and over the weekend, scholars, writers, poets, singers, artists and admirers of the language will gather at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts in Delhi to celebrate Urdu in all its forms. The roster of the two-and-a-half-day festival includes panel discussions, dastangoi (storytelling) sessions, mushairas, qawwalis, ghazals, baitbaazi, street plays – to be held simultaneously across four venues – as well as a book exhibition, a calligraphy workshop, the Urdu Bazaar (presenting the antiquities and handicrafts of Old Delhi), a food festival, and more.

“This year, we’re trying to revive baitbaazi, which is like antakshari but with Urdu poetry, by showcasing it at the bigger venue, the stage lawn,” explains Sanjiv Saraf, festival director and founder of the Rekhta Foundation. “We’re also having a number of mushairas this year: a grand mushaira, one for women poets, one for the youth and another focusing on humour and satire.”

The festival will host over a 100 eminent speakers from the world of cinema, arts and culture, including lyricist-poet Gulzar, screenwriter and playwright Javed Siddiqui, adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, Urdu poet Wasim Barelvi, actor-director Saurabh Shukla, actor Nadira Babbar, journalist Saeed Naqvi, food critic and historian Pushpesh Pant, actor Sharmila Tagore, advocate-littérateur Saif Mahmood, poet-politician Kumar Vishwas and actor-radio host Annu Kapoor. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Kankana Basu

By Aminah Sheikh

kankana-basu

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Growing up in a big family of book-lovers and where the head of the family was a distinguished author, it was inevitable that one got books as birthday gifts. Added to that was the daunting task of delivering an oral essay of every book read to a stern panel of adults! The love for words, consequently, was destined to bite very early. Although I trained for commercial art and worked as an illustrator-visualizer in my early years and aspired to paint in oils someday, the weight and thrust of words and story ideas was too great at one point and they threatened to erupt and take precedence over everything else, including my domestic life. I had no option but to sit down and put pen to paper. All of life’s experiences appeared to be translating into words somehow, and the need for self-expression took the form of writing (both fiction and non-fiction). Painterly aspirations went flying out of the window.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What are you trying to say or achieve with it?

My most recently published book is a collection of short stories, Lamplight: Paranormal Stories from the Hinterlands. Some of the stories in this collection are loosely based on the ghost stories handed down from generation to generation in my father’s family. My grandparents lived in an old rambling house in Munger, Bihar, where all kinds of creepy things are supposed to have happened and I’ve taken inspiration from these.

I’m a huge admirer of the subtle form of story-telling, especially when it comes to the paranormal. Authors like Henry James, Stephen King and Ruskin Bond who create menacing atmospherics with the crafty use of language, where the reader’s mind can come unhinged with terror and imagination run rampant by the mere use of subtle suggestions, is the kind of craft I aspire to. Not for me the over-the-top spooking with blood, bones, screams and a whole lot of pyrotechnics. In Lamplight, I’ve taken an empathetic stance towards ghosts. Along with being chilling entities, I’ve tried to portray ghosts as piquant, funny, amorous, lovable and even gluttonous! I’ve allowed my ghosts to have the blast of their lives (or death, as the case may be!) in the stories.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I was barely nine when I read this magical novella called The Grass Harp by Truman Capote. The plot remains fuzzy in mind, it had something to do with an orphaned boy and two elderly ladies sitting on a branch of a tree and observing life. But till date I remember the vivid scene created by the author’s prose, that of a sea of emerald green grass waving in the breeze, bright golden sunshine, an idyllic summer’s day and a child with a head full of impossible longings. I love the auditory and visual qualities that certain writers conjure up by the magic of their prose. Some books titles are forgotten, one may even confuse plots but certain passages remain in the mind with their wonderful imagery. A rainy city at dusk, the lapping of waves against a boat on a starlit night and the silent aftermath of a riot-torn area are just some of the assorted bits that have stayed in memory after reading a couple of recent books. A book’s plot is of prime importance, for sure, but the rhythm of words, vibrant imagery and the ability to create a frequency that connects instantaneously with the reader is what I hope to achieve with every work of fiction I write. It is also immensely interesting to explore the secret worlds that people inhabit. There is a gray zone between what most people appear to be and what they truly are and it is an author’s privilege to explore this no-man’s land. Fictitious characters are almost always based on real life models, the twists and loops in their personalities, the angled perceptions of reality by different characters (reality, as it is, is a very subjective affair), mirages of the mind and the point where the real often blends into the surreal….. I try to explore these aspects in my writing.

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New Release: Suspected Poems by Gulzar

gulzar“He had the blue cow tattooed on his right shoulder

He would have been killed in the riots yesterday

But they were good people—

Seeing a cow, they let him go!”

Written in Gulzar’s inimitable style, the poems in his newest volume of poetry reflect and comment, sometimes elliptically through a visual image, sometimes with breathtaking immediacy and directness, on the political reality in the country today. Powerful, poignant and impossible to ignore or gloss over, the fifty-two threads that make up Suspected Poems unfold across the entire political spectrumfrom the disturbed climate in the country and the culture of intolerance to the plight of the aam aadmi, from the continued oppression of Dalits and minority communities to fluctuating Indo–Pak relations.

Published by Penguin, Suspected Poems has been translated into English by Pavan K. Varma. Suspected Poems will be available in a special keepsake bilingual edition.

About the Author:

Gulzar is one of India’s leading poets; he has published several volumes of poetry and short stories (many of which are available in translation) and is also regarded as one of the country’s finest writers for children. A greatly respected scriptwriter and film director, he is one of the most popular lyricists in mainstream Hindi cinema. He gained international fame when he won an Oscar and a Grammy for the song ‘Jai ho’. Gulzar received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2004. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He lives and works in Mumbai.

About the Translator:

Pavan K. Varma is the author of The Great Indian Middle Class, Being Indian, Becoming Indian and several other books. After a long and distinguished diplomatic career, he served as cultural adviser to the chief minister of Bihar, and was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 2014 to 2016

 


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JLF 2017: Poets Gulzar and Anne Waldman stress direct action

By Zehra Kazmi

In the end, the first session at this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival was all about the voices. Lyricist and poet Gulzar’s familiar baritone – gentle, gravelly – and American poet Anne Waldman’s powerful, breathless recitation of her verse.

It was a morning of poetry for the eager audience at Diggi Palace’s front lawns. Voicing his thoughts, Gulzar told the audience that he often asked himself the question, “If I didn’t write, would it make a difference to the world?”

He explained his creative process as water coming to a boil: the ubaal, or boiling over, is what drives him to put pen to paper; the bhaap, or steam, is his writing, his poetry. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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Manoharrai Sardessai: The crown prince of Konkani poetry

By Gauree Malkarnekar

Celebrated lyricist Gulzar, on a visit to Goa in December 2009, said of Goan poet Manoharrai Sardessai’s literary work, “It is the saltiness of the winds that blow in Goa that give his poems flavor and the swaying palms that give his words the rhythm.”

Gulzar, in one line, described the same vivid imagery from Goa that dominated Sardessai’s poems, while also demonstrating how this Goan’s words stirred a strong longing for one’s home, irrespective of the reader’s origins.

Sardessai was born on January 18 1925, a date that happens to fall just two days after Goa celebrates ‘Goem Asmitai Dis’. It is on January 16, 1967, that Goa voted against its merger with Maharashtra, a verdict in which Sardessai’s poems played a critical role. Read more

Source: The Times of India


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India: Gulzar to get LitFest Poet Laureate award at Tata Literature Live!

gulzar

Veteran lyricist, writer and filmmaker Gulzar has been chosen for this year’s Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate award, which will be presented to him on November 17 during the 7th edition of the Mumbai LitFest, organisers said. “For a moment, I felt like there might have been a mistake, akin to walking into a dimly lit room, where it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust.”

“It is a great honour to be receiving this award; it gives you a little more confidence and assurance in your work,” the 82-year-old poet, who will be reading a few of his works at the festival, said. He won his first National Film Award in 1972 for ‘Koshish’ and went on to collect a string of accolades and trophies, including an Academy award for the song ‘Jai Ho!’ from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Read more


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Tata Literature Live festival: Talks, performances to feast on from November 17

Over 130 writers and thinkers like John Gray, Amitav Ghosh, Simon Armitage and former finance minister, P Chidambaram will be a part of the seventh edition of the Tata Literature Live! festival from November 17-20.

The festival will be held at two venues — the NCPA and Prithvi Theatre. Those listed for this edition include Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient; Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic poem The Odyssey; former minister and writer, Jairam Ramesh, Girish Karnad, Keki Daruwalla, Kiran Nagarkar and Jayant Narlikar, besides Gulzar and Karan Johar. Read more


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Punjab has zero literature for children: Gulzar

gulzarIt is disappointing that Punjabi is ‘zero’ in children literature with nothing available for them in the language, said noted poet, lyricist and film-maker Gulzar on Wednesday.

During his first interaction at Punjab University with students, faculty members and staff after he assumed the Tagore Chair professorship, Gulzar said, “It is a matter of grave concern that we don’t have children literature and we are making no effort to write for them. Writing for children is very difficult. The language used for writing for an eight-year-old will be different from what you use for a 12-year-old.”

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Gulzar on Dubai, literature, friendship

gulzarA Three-day Theatre Fiesta, written by celebrated Bollywood writer, Gulzar, showcasing the versatility of his writing and dramatised by well-known theatre director Salim Arif will begin from January 15 at DUCTAC, as part of DSF. Using words as mindscapes in poems and songs, Gulzar has the rare ability to redefine the connotation of commonly used expressions and stretch their meanings to new horizons. Be it his short stories, film scripts or songs, Gulzar’s contribution in all these genres in the last fifty years has been prolific and consistent. We caught up with Gulzar over the phone from Mumbai ahead of his visit to Dubai this week.

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Gulzar: Literature should be presented without entertainment

GulzarIndian literature is very rich and directors should be careful when they adapt them into a film or a TV series. It should not have unnecessary tinge of entertainment, feels poet-lyricist Gulzar.

The 79-year-old director, who is this year’s Dadasaheb Phalke awardee, adapted the works of well-known Indian writers for the big and small screen.

Gulzar said literature can not be reformer, it can only remind or record the past era. Continue reading