Express literary festival opens a new chapter in Odisha - The New Indian Express

Express literary festival opens a new chapter in Odisha

Published: 07th Oct 2012 10:21:02 AM

Marking a new chapter in the literary scenario of the state, the Odisha Literary Festival 2012 got off to a flying start here on Friday. Inaugurating the two-day event— the first literary festival of the state—hosted by The New Indian Express Group, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik termed it path-breaking.

Even though volumes of literature are produced in the regional languages every year and are read, enjoyed and appreciated by millions, these hardly get the publicity they deserve. “Not many institutions come forward to promote these writers. Against this backdrop, the effort of The New Indian Express (TNIE) in organising this festival is laudable,” he stated.

The start of the festival could not have been more exciting and interesting as Patnaik was drawn into an impromptu free-wheeling session with TNIE Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla and senior journalist and author of  Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage Through Crisis  Shankkar Aiyar which dealt with everything from politics, economic scenario, culture and literature.

Chawla said regional writers were lauded by the government in their home states but rarely are they granted the national recognition they deserve. The TNIE is trying to change that by providing regional writers with a larger platform and wider constituency. The Odisha Literary Festival is the first step in that direction.

The festival saw convergence of top writers, poets, film-makers, politicians and spiritual leaders to involve and engage themselves in furtherance and enrichment of literature in the country as well as the state. The festival featured talks, discussions, book readings, debates on a wide range of subjects from mythology, feminist and children's writing, translation, poetry, religious writings, politics and films, etc.

The first session of the festival was devoted to the topic ‘The Magic Lure of Mythology’ where best-selling author Amish Tripathi engaged with Jnanpith awardee Dr Sitakant Mahapatra on the issue. Moderated by eminent academic and translator Bikram Das, the session saw the celebrated writers term mythology as timeless and inseparable from mankind.  The succeeding session on ‘Has chick lit killed feminist writing or is it the new feminist writing’ had writers Jaishree Mishra, Yashodhara Mishra and author-moderator Paramita Satpathy stating that chick lit might sound offensive but now it is past semantics into normal usage, thanks to the marketing-driven publishing industry. Chick lit had established itself as a new genre and was here to stay.

The session on ‘Relevance of Poetry in contemporary society’, moderated by poet-writer Purabi Das, saw poets Sudeep Sen and Prof Soubhagya Mishra strongly defend the form of artistic expression and rebut any perception that poetry was losing its sheen in the 21st century. Poetry appeals to certain groups of people. It does not matter if the last man in the crowd doesn't read it, they said.

As exciting the beginning of the festival was, the end to the first day was equally thrilling with Chawla engaging Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev in an interview after he delivered a talk on religious writings. In a session marked by trademark Ramdev wit and retorts, the yoga guru raked up the issue of alleged amassing of wealth by Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and warned of a political storm in the next parliamentary elections.

The second day of the festival set off on an absorbing note with eminent writer Ruskin Bond narrating stories of his life along with reading stories and poems to children of different schools of the city in presence of Resident Editor TNIE, Bhubaneswar, Srimoy Kar. Bond also interacted with them on different aspects of writing.

Critically acclaimed film-makers Vishal Bhardwaj, Nirad Mohapatra and Anik Dutta dwelt on the topic of ‘writing for films’.  Sessions on translation of regional literature and one on Butterfly Generation with author Palash Krishna Mehrotra followed.

The highlight of the day was an intensely absorbing session on ‘Ideological Literature: Dead or Alive’ with Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and academic analyst Pushpesh Pant taking part.

The sidelines of the festival also held special charm for the audience as celebrity chef Michael Swamy dished out exotic cuisine live on Friday. The curtains were drawn on the festival by a splendid performance by playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj.

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